Nickel and Dimed in Nickel Essay

Pages: 2 (727 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Careers

Nickel & Dimed

In Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich learns from personal experience what it is like to work low-wage jobs in the United States. Like Ehrenreich, I have also put in many hours toiling at low-wage positions while at the same time knowing that I would be able to someday break out of that cycle and move on to a more meaningful and rewarding career. However, Ehrenreich points out that not all Americans have the opportunities or wherewithal to break free from the cycle of working poverty.

Needing a temporary job while living in my parent's house, I walked into the local Blockbuster movie rental store and asked for an application. I was asked to return for an interview, and when I did they asked me for a strand of my hair for a drug test. This was the first time I had ever heard of strands of hair being used for drug tests, and the request was a bit shocking. Reading Ehrenreich's account of the urinalysis she had to take reminded me of my position at Blockbuster. However, the manager who interviewed me was a nice person and I was hired for the job. I believe that peeing in a cup is a more degrading experience than offering a strand of hair, even though drug testing is itself an invasive procedure.

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No knowledge, skills, or training were necessary to work the entry-level position at Blockbuster Video: with the job title of Clerk. The staff in my position were all young, and some of them were in high school. We simply needed to show up for work on time, and we also needed to know the alphabet because a large portion of our job consisted of scanning returned videos and filing them back on the shelf from the return cart.

Supervision was relatively loose for the clerk position. The largest number of staff members consisted of clerks like me, whose main job was restocking shelves. We also took turns at the register, checking out videos. However, only managers could open new accounts for customers. Managers did not watch over our shoulders; they were relaxed and left most of the clerks alone.

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