What to include in the letters to your partners:
*Paraphrase your partner’s thesis.
* Is the thesis arguable? Why or why not?
*Does the thesis answer “how?” and “why?” and “so what?”
* How can the thesis be stronger?
* Did the introduction provide a clear overview of the topic and lead into the thesis?
* Is there a balance between summary, paraphrase, direct quotes, and responses?
* Are direct quotes properly cited?
* Are the topic sentences arguable?
* Do the direct quotes support the thesis and topic sentences and provide textual evidence?
* Does your partner analyze the quote in each paragraph?
* Does your partner answer “why?” throughout?
* Does your partner answer the “so what?” throughout?
* Does your partner dig below the surface of each textual example to provide full analysis?
* Is the thesis supported throughout the essay?
*Does your partner stray too far from the main idea of the essay?
* Does your partner transition smoothly between examples and paragraphs?
*Are there places of confusion? *Is there any repetition of ideas?
*Is the organization/structure of the essay easy to follow?
*Point to any grammatical errors and/or problems with sentence structure and word choice.
The essay I used was Serving in Florida
Everyone who works 40 hours a week makes at least minimum wage and it is obviously different
wages depending on the state you are working in. Is minimum wage enough to live off though?
In her essay “Serving In Florida” Barbra Ehrenreich starts off by making well over the “average”
person. She was a Scientist but then became a writer. This brings me back to the title of her
essay. She decides to do an experiment in that state of Florida. She studied the working class in
the United States and relocated to several cities working as a server, trying to live off the wages
she received. Many Americans were preoccupied with the economic growth in the 21st Century,
turning a blind eye to poverty.
Barbara Ehrenreich witnessed that people living off minimum wage could live the “American
dream”. Barbara’s introduction is based on her entire experience; after her first shift as a waitress
at a diner by the name of Hearthside. She then goes on describing the work environment at the
Hearthside diner. You get a feel for each of the employees as she describes their living scenarios.
Basically half of them live in tiny apartments with more people than rooms, some live in hotels,
and one of them even lives in the back of a van outside of the diner. I think she described
minimum wage perfect when she says, “you might imagine, from a comfortable distance, that
people who live, year in and year out, on $6 to $10 an hour have discovered some survival
stratagems unknown to the middle class. But no.” (pg. 208).
She leans on another waitress who trained her by the name of Gail. During one her shifts Gail
starts explaining that she needs to get out of her overpopulated apartment and is probably going
to end up living in the hotel for $60 a day. Barbara blatantly says to her how do you think you’re
going to be able to even afford that? She then goes on explaining that she has nowhere close to
enough to get her own place. It comes along with not only rent but a deposit comes with it as
well. Barbara began her low-wage life with $1300 that soon dropped down to nothing after 1,000
for the first month’s rent and deposit. After she pays rent she then goes on to talk about her other
expenses, “$100 for initial groceries and cash in my pocket, $200 stuffed away for emergencies.
In poverty, as in certain proposition in physics, starting conditions are everything”. (pg 210)
If you can’t put up the two months rent you need to secure an apartment, you end up paying
through the roof for a room by the week. Barbara then explains “If you only have a room with a
hot plate at best, you can’t save by cooking up huge lentils stews that can be frozen for the week
ahead” (pg 210). That basically forces the lower class to eat fast food or hot dogs that can
potentially end up making you sick from your local gas station. Which leads to health insurance.
At Hearthside the insurance plan didn’t even kick in till three months of “proving” yourself. She
talks about how she makes 5.15 an hour plus tips but depending on weather and time of the
month her tips didn’t really make a difference for her. After adding up all her money at the end
of the month including her emergency money she realizes she is still $100 short for rent. Unless
she wanted to be living out of her car she knew she would have to get another job.
The way Barbara talks about her job search is that she applied to five different hotels and plus a
half dozen locally ran guest houses and still heard nothing and that was weeks prior to the diner
she currently works in. The key element is showing how hard it is when applying for any
low-wage job. She wastes several mornings waiting for assistant managers to show up even
dipped her toes into some sketchy places that clerks greet you from bulletproof class and sell
pints of liquor over the counter. She tries to get work in housekeeping. Although the author does
not say so directly, she apparently assumes that because she is a white, native English speaker
she is stereotyped as a waitress.
After all of that work, she finally gets a response from another dumpy diner under the name of
Jerrys for another server job. This diner was a lot busier than Hearthside. She compares the
atmosphere of Jerrys to the human body and not in an appealing way. “The kitchen is a cavern, a
stomach leading to the lower intestine that is garbage and dishwashing area, from which issue
bizarre smells combining the edible and the offal: creamy carrion, pizza barf, and that unique and
enigmatic Jerry’s scent, citrus fart.” (pg.212)
The two job idea was going horribly she only had a few minutes in between jobs. The only times
she was able to sit was either driving to either job or using the bathroom. Barbara describes how
hard and how fast she has to work at Jerry’s. She even goes on to say how surprised the new
waitress that was training her was that she even showed back up for her second day. High
turnover is a major symptom when it comes to low-wage work since such workers are constantly
in an economically and financially precarious situation. The turnover is not because of laziness,
but because continuing in a job is impossible.
I think that Barbara Ehrenreich put a lot of thought in conceiving this project. The chapter title
lets the reader know that she will not be the one being served but she would be doing the serving.
I think that the experiment was a success, success meaning that one can’t live off minimum
wage. I think she did a fine job exaggerating the low wage workplaces to people who never had
to do that type of jobs but to someone who has she might come off as judgemental just because
those types of people will continue working those jobs probably for the rest of their lives while
she goes back to her middle-class life.
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