Barbara Ehrenreich is a writer to stands up for individuals in poverty and the treatment that they receive because of it. In her novel, Nickel and Dimed, she describes her life when she experimented with disconnecting herself from her past world and completely devoting her time to work low paying jobs and living in cramped spaces. In reality, the test seems to show how difficult it is to get by on such little payments and being looked down on by others.
When she moves to Main
e to see if she could get by on a different set of jobs, she takes on a cleaning job for The Maids. They work long and strenuous hours in relatively expensive houses and are paid very little for vacuuming, dusting, and scrubbing. Their boss, Ted, holds all of the power and none of the other maids have the courage to stick up for themselves. When Barbara expresses her frustrations on their drive back to the office after Holly had hurt her ankle while on the job, the other women do not stir or say a word. She explains how she was "shaking with anger (at Ted), betrayal (in the cases of Marge and Denise), and most of all at my own total helplessness" (112). Barbara is so affected that she takes matters into her own hands. When Holly agrees to call Ted to report her incident, she repetively apologizes and wheeps over the phone. Enraged, Barbara takes the phone and yells at Ted that he "can't keep putting money above his employees' health and [she doesn't] want to hear about 'working through it,' because [Holly] is in really bad shape" (110). Luckily her rant turns out to only help her as well as Holly when she returns to the office. When she confronts Ted, he rewards her with a raise to $6.75 an hour and excuses Holly to go home, but still get paid for the day.
Sticking up to a boss is intimidating for anyone, especially if you work for very little and could be replaced in a heartbeat. Awful work conditions have lasted throughout centuries all around the world sand very few people take the initiative to use what little voice they have and stick up for themselves and their coworkers. Barbara is still keeping her secret about her project from the new people that she meets, but cannot stand such oppression and little voice that these women have gotten in the work place. How they support multiple family members on a salary meant for one person while their corporate leaders make money without a care.