4 MC about Procedure
question attached below
Excerpt from Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
Picture a fat person’s hell, and I don’t mean a place with no food. Instead there is everything you might eat if eating had no bodily consequences – cheese fries, chicken-fried steaks, fudge-laden desserts – only here every bite must be paid for, one way or another, in human discomfort. The kitchen is a cavern, a stomach leading to the lower intestine that is the 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. The floor is slick with spills, forcing us to walk through the kitchen with tiny steps, like Susan McDougal in leg irons. Sinks everywhere are clogged with scraps of lettuce, decomposing lemon wedges, waterlogged toast crusts. Put your hand down on any counter and you risk being stuck to it by the film of ancient syrup spills, and this is unfortunate, because hands are utensils here, used for scooping up lettuce onto salad plates, lifting out pie slices, and even moving hash browns from one plate to another. The regulation poster in the single unisex restroom admonishes us to wash our hands thoroughly and even offers instructions for doing so, but there is always some vital substance missing – soap, paper towels, toilet paper – and I never find all three at once. You learn to stuff your pockets with napkins before going in there, and too bad about the customers, who must eat, though they don’t realize this, almost literally out of our hands. The break room typifies the whole situation: there is none, because there are no breaks at Jerry’s. For six to eight hours in a row, you never sit except to pee. Actually, there are three folding chairs at a table immediately adjacent to the bathroom, but hardly anyone ever sits here, in the very rectum of the gastro-architectural system. Rather, the function of the peri-toilet area is to house the ashtrays in which servers and dishwashers leave their cigarettes burning at all times, like votive candles, so that they don’t have to waste time lighting up again when they dash back for a puff. Almost everyone smokes as if his or her pulmonary well-being depended on it – the multinational mélange of cooks, the Czech dishwashers, the servers, who are all American natives – creating an atmosphere in which oxygen is only an occasional pollutant. My first morning at Jerry’s, when the hypoglycemic shakes set in, I complain to one of my fellow servers that I don’t understand how she can go so long without food. “Well, I don’t understand how you can go so long without a cigarette,” she responds in a tone of reproach – because work is what you do for others; smoking is what you do for yourself. I don’t know why the antismoking crusaders have never grasped the element of defiant self-nurturance that makes the habit so endearing to its victims – as if, in the American workplace, the only thing people have to call their own is the tumors they are nourishing and the spare moments they devote to feeding them. Now, the Industrial Revolution is not an easy transition, especially when you have to zip through it in just a couple of days. I have gone from craft work straight into the factory, from the air-conditioned
morgue of the Hearthside directly into the flames. Customers arrive in human waves, sometimes disgorged fifty at a time from their tour buses, peckish and whiny. Instead of two “girls” on the floor at once, there can be as many as six of us running around in our brilliant pink-and-orange Hawaiian shirts. Conversations, either with customers or fellow employees, seldom last more than twenty seconds at a time. On my first day, in fact, I am hurt by my sister servers’ coldness. My mentor for the day is an emotionally uninflected twenty-three-year-old, and the others, who gossip a little among themselves about the real reason someone is out sick today and the size of the bail bond someone else has had to pay, ignore me completely. On my second day, I find out why. “Well, it’s good to see you again,” one of them says in ‘greeting. “Hardly anyone comes back after the first day.” I feel powerfully vindicated – a survivor – but it would take a long time, probably months, before I could hope to be accepted into this sorority. I start out with the beautiful, heroic idea of handling the two jobs at once, and for two days I almost do it: the breakfast/lunch shift at Jerry’s, which goes till 2:00, arriving at the Hearthside at 2:10, and attempting to hold out until 10:00. In the ten minutes between jobs, I pick up a spicy chicken sandwich at the Wendy’s drive-through window, gobble it down in the car, and change from khaki slacks to black, from Hawaiian to rust polo. There is a problem, though. When during the 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. dead time I finally sit down to wrap silver, my flesh seems to bond to the seat. I try to refuel with a purloined cup of soup, as I’ve seen Gail and Joan do dozens of times, but a manager catches me and hisses “No eating!” though there’s not a customer around to be offended by the sight of food making contact with a server’s lips. So I tell Gail I’m going to quit, and she hugs me and says she might just follow me to Jerry’s herself. But the chances of this are minuscule. She has left the flophouse and her annoying roommate and is back to living in her beat-up old truck. But guess what? she reports to me excitedly later that evening: Phillip has given her permission to park overnight in the hotel parking lot, as long as she keeps out of sight, and the parking lot should be totally safe, since it’s patrolled by a hotel security guard! With the Hearthside offering benefits like that, how could anyone think of leaving? Gail would have triumphed at Jerry’s, I’m sure, but for me it’s a crash course in exhaustion management. Years ago, the kindly fry cook who trained me to waitress at a Los Angeles truck stop used to say: Never make an unnecessary trip; if you don’t have to walk fast, walk slow; if you don’t have to walk, stand. But at Jerry’s the effort of distinguishing necessary from unnecessary and urgent from whenever would itself be too much of an energy drain. The only thing to do is to treat each shift as a one-time-only emergency: you’ve got fifty starving people out there, lying scattered on the battlefield, so get out there and feed them! Forget that you will have to do this again tomorrow, forget that you will have to be alert enough to dodge the drunks on the drive home tonight – just burn, burn, burn! Ideally, at some point you enter what servers call “a rhythm” and psychologists term a “flow state,” in which signals pass from the sense organs directly to the muscles, bypassing the cerebral cortex, and a Zen-like emptiness sets in. A male server from the Hearthside’s morning shift tells me about the time he “pulled a triple” – three shifts in a row, all the way around the clock – and then got off and had a drink and met this girl, and maybe he shouldn’t tell me this, but they had sex right then and there, and it was like, beautiful.
But there’s another capacity of the neuromuscular system, which is pain. I start tossing back drugstore-brand ibuprofen pills as if they were vitamin C, four before each shift, because an old mouse-related repetitive-stress injury in my upper back has come back to full-spasm strength, thanks to the tray carrying. In my ordinary life, this level of disability might justify a day of ice packs and stretching. Here I comfort myself with the Aleve commercial in which the cute blue-collar guy asks: If you quit after working four hours, what would your boss say? And the not-so-cute blue-collar guy, who’s lugging a metal beam on his back, answers: He’d fire me, that’s what. But fortunately, the commercial tells us, we workers can exert the same kind of authority over our painkillers that our bosses exert over us. If Tylenol doesn’t want to work for more than four hours, you just fire its ass and switch to Aleve. True, I take occasional breaks from this life, going home now and then to catch up on e-mail and for conjugal visits (though I am careful to “pay” for anything I eat there), seeing The Truman Show with friends and letting them buy my ticket. And I still have those what-am-I-doing-here moments at work, when I get so homesick for the printed word that I obsessively reread the six-page menu. But as the days go by, my old life is beginning to look exceedingly strange. The e-mails and phone messages addressed to my former self come from a distant race of people with exotic concerns and far too much time on their hands. The neighborly market I used to cruise for produce now looks forbiddingly like a Manhattan yuppie emporium. And when I sit down one morning in my real home to pay bills from my past life, I am dazzled at the two- and three-figure sums owed to outfits like Club BodyTech and Amazon.com. Management at Jerry’s is generally calmer and more “professional” than at the Hearthside, with two exceptions. One is Joy, a plump, blowsy woman in her early thirties, who once kindly devoted several minutes to instructing me in the correct one-handed method of carrying trays but whose moods change disconcertingly from shift to shift and even within one. Then there’s B.J., a.k.a. B.J.-the-bitch, whose contribution is to stand by the kitchen counter and yell, “Nita, your order’s up, move it!” or, “Barbara, didn’t you see you’ve got another table out there? Come on, girl!” Among other things, she is hated for having replaced the whipped-cream squirt cans with big plastic whipped-cream-filled baggies that have to be squeezed with both hands – because, reportedly, she saw or thought she saw employees trying to inhale the propellant gas from the squirt cans, in the hope that it might be nitrous oxide. On my third night, she pulls me aside abruptly and brings her face so close that it looks as if she’s planning to butt me with her forehead. But instead of saying, “You’re fired,” she says, “You’re doing fine.” The only trouble is I’m spending time chatting with customers: “That’s how they’re getting you.” Furthermore I am letting them “run me,” which means harassment by sequential demands: you bring the ketchup and they decide they want extra Thousand Island; you bring that and they announce they now need a side of fries; and so on into distraction. Finally she tells me not to take her wrong. She tries to say things in a nice way, but you get into a mode, you know, because everything has to move so fast. I mumble thanks for the advice, feeling like I’ve just been stripped naked by the crazed enforcer of some ancient sumptuary law: No chatting for you, girl. No fancy service ethic allowed for the serfs.
Chatting with customers is for the beautiful young college-educated servers in the downtown carpaccio joints, the kids who can make $70 to $100 a night. What had I been thinking? My job is to move orders from tables to kitchen and then trays from kitchen to tables. Customers are, in fact, the major obstacle to the smooth transformation of information into food and food into money – they are, in short, the enemy. And the painful thing is that I’m beginning to see it this way myself. There are the traditional asshole types – frat boys who down multiple Buds and then make a fuss because the steaks are so emaciated and the fries so sparse – as well as the variously impaired – due to age, diabetes, or literacy issues – who require patient nutritional counseling. The worst, for some reason, are the Visible Christians – like the ten-person table, all jolly and sanctified after Sunday-night service, who run me mercilessly and then leave me $1 on a $92 bill. Or the guy with the crucifixion T-shirt (SOMEONE TO LOOK UP TO) who complains that his baked potato is too hard and his iced tea too icy (I cheerfully fix both) and leaves no tip. As a general rule, people wearing crosses or WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) buttons look at us disapprovingly no matter what we do, as if they were confusing waitressing with Mary Magdalene’s original profession. I make friends, over time, with the other “girls” who work my shift: Nita, the tattooed twenty-something who taunts us by going around saying brightly, “Have we started making money yet?” Ellen, whose teenage son cooks on the graveyard shift and who once managed a restaurant in Massachusetts but won’t try out for management here because she prefers being a “common worker” and not “ordering people around.” Easy-going fiftyish Lucy, with the raucous laugh, who limps toward the end of the shift because of something that has gone wrong with her leg, the exact nature of which cannot be determined without health insurance. We talk about the usual girl things – men, children, and the sinister allure of Jerry’s chocolate peanut-butter cream pie – though no one, I notice, ever brings up anything potentially expensive, like shopping or movies. As at the Hearthside, the only recreation ever referred to is partying, which requires little more than some beer, a joint, and a few close friends. Still, no one here is homeless, or cops to it anyway, thanks usually to a working husband or boyfriend. All in all, we form a reliable mutual-support group: If one of us is feeling sick or overwhelmed, another one will “bev” a table or even carry trays for her. If one of us is off sneaking a cigarette or a pee, the others will do their best to conceal her absence from the enforcers of corporate rationality. But my saving human connection – my oxytocin receptor, as it were – is George, the nineteen-year-old, fresh-off-the-boat Czech dishwasher. We get to talking when he asks me, tortuously, how much cigarettes cost at Jerry’s. I do my best to explain that they cost over a dollar more here than at a regular store and suggest that he just take one from the half-filled packs that are always lying around on the break table. But that would be unthinkable. Except for the one tiny earring signaling his allegiance to some vaguely alternative point of view, George is a perfect straight arrow – crew-cut, hardworking, and hungry for eye contact. “Czech Republic,” I ask, “or Slovakia?” and he seems delighted that I know the difference. “Vaclav Havel,” I try. “Velvet Revolution, Frank Zappa?” “Yes, yes, 1989,” he says, and I realize we are talking about history. My project is to teach George English. “How are you today, George ?” I say at the start of each shift. “I am good, and how are you today, Barbara?” I learn that he is not paid by Jerry’s but by the
“agent” who shipped him over – $5 an hour, with the agent getting the dollar or so difference between that and what Jerry’s pays dishwashers. I learn also that he shares an apartment with a crowd of other Czech “dishers,” as he calls them, and that he cannot sleep until one of them goes off for his shift, leaving a vacant bed. We are having one of our ESL sessions late one afternoon when B.J. catches us at it and orders “Joseph” to take up the rubber mats on the floor near the dishwashing sinks and mop underneath. “I thought your name was George,” I say loud enough for B.J. to hear as she strides off back to the counter. Is she embarrassed? Maybe a little, because she greets me back at the counter with “George, Joseph – there are so many of them!” I say nothing, neither nodding nor smiling, and for this I am punished later when I think I am ready to go and she announces that I need to roll fifty more sets of silverware and isn’t it time I mixed up a fresh four-gallon batch of blue-cheese dressing? May you grow old in this place, B.J., is the curse I beam out at her when I am finally permitted to leave. May the syrup spills glue your feet to the floor. I make the decision to move closer to Key West. First, because of the drive. Second and third, also because of the drive: gas is eating up $4 to $5 a day, and although Jerry’s is as high-volume as you can get, the tips average only 10 percent, and not just for a newbie like me. Between the base pay of $2.15 an hour and the obligation to share tips with the busboys and dishwashers, we’re averaging only about $7.50 an hour. Then there is the $30 I had to spend on the regulation tan slacks worn by Jerry’s servers – a setback it could take weeks to absorb. (I had combed the town’s two downscale department stores hoping for something cheaper but decided in the end that these marked-down Dockers, originally $49, were more likely to survive a daily washing.) Of my fellow servers, everyone who lacks a working husband or boyfriend seems to have a second job: Nita does something at a computer eight hours a day; another welds. Without the forty-five-minute commute, I can picture myself working two jobs and having the time to shower between them. So I take the $500 deposit I have coming from my landlord, the $400 I have earned toward the next month’s rent; plus the $200 reserved for emergencies, and use the $1,100 to pay the rent and deposit on trailer number 46 in the Overseas Trailer Park, a mile from the cluster of budget hotels that constitute Key West’s version of an industrial park. Number 46 is about eight feet in width and shaped like a barbell inside, with a narrow region – because of the sink and the stove – separating the bedroom from what might optimistically be called the “living” area, with its two-person table and half-sized couch. The bathroom is so small my knees rub against the shower stall when I sit on the toilet, and you can’t just leap out of the bed, you have to climb down to the foot of it in order to find a patch of floor space to stand on. Outside, I am within a few yards of a liquor store, a bar that advertises “free beer tomorrow,” a convenience store, and a Burger King – but no supermarket or, alas, laundromat. By reputation, the Overseas park is a nest of crime and crack, and I am hoping at least for some vibrant, multicultural street life. But desolation rules night and day, except for a thin stream of pedestrian traffic heading for their jobs at the Sheraton or 7-Eleven. There are not exactly people here but what amounts to canned labor, being preserved from the heat between shifts. In line with my reduced living conditions, a new form of ugliness arises at Jerry’s. First we are confronted – via an announcement on the computers through which we input orders – with the new rule that the hotel bar is henceforth off-limits to restaurant employees. The culprit, I learn through
the grapevine, is the ultra-efficient gal who trained me – another trailer-home dweller and a mother of three. Something had set her off one morning, so she slipped out for a nip and returned to the floor impaired. This mostly hurts Ellen, whose habit it is to free her hair from its rubber band and drop by the bar for a couple of Zins before heading home at the end of the shift, but all of us feel the chill. Then the next day, when I go for straws, for the first time I find the dry-storage room locked. Ted, the portly assistant manager who opens it for me, explains that he caught one of the dishwashers attempting to steal something, and, unfortunately, the miscreant will be with us until a replacement can be found – hence the locked door. I neglect to ask what he had been trying to steal, but Ted tells me who he is – the kid with the buzz cut and the earring. You know, he’s back there right now. I wish I could say I rushed back and confronted George to get his side of the story. I wish I could say I stood up to Ted and insisted that George be given a translator and allowed to defend himself, or announced that I’d find a lawyer who’d handle the case pro bono. The mystery to me is that there’s not much worth stealing in the dry-storage room, at least not in any fenceable quantity: “Is Gyorgi here, and am having 200 – maybe 250 – ketchup packets. What do you say?” My guess is that he had taken – if he had taken anything at all – some Saltines or a can of cherry-pie mix, and that the motive for taking it was hunger. So why didn’t I intervene? Certainly not because I was held back by the kind of moral paralysis that can pass as journalistic objectivity. On the contrary, something new – something loathsome and servile – had infected me, along with the kitchen odors that I could still sniff on my bra when I finally undressed at night. In real life I am moderately brave, but plenty of brave people shed their courage in concentration camps, and maybe something similar goes on in the infinitely more congenial milieu of the low-wage American workplace. Maybe, in a month or two more at Jerry’s, I might have regained my crusading spirit. Then again, in a month or two I might have turned into a different person altogether – say, the kind of person who would have turned George in.
|Author||Claim||Audience||Purpose||Types of Appeals/Evidence|
|Robert Reich .||In order for companies to be competitive they have to add value to knowledge/ information, and then that information is used to solve and broker new problems.||College educated. Business people in a position to influence the direction of organizations.||To inform the audience about global market/ labor trends to position their organizations to take advantage of emerging opportunities.||Logos: statistics, informed opinion, citations of reputable sources Pathos: military metaphors|
|Barbara Ehrenreich||People cannot live on minimum wage.||Educated voters who have an interest in social justice.||Draw attention to the plight of the working poor and compel her audience to pressure law makers to act to raise the minimum wage.||Pathos: vivid descriptions, anecdote, personal experience Logos: some academic texts|
|Gregory Mantsios||America has a class system that influences the opportunities available to its citizens.||Young college students (18-25) enrolled in an introductory sociology class.||Inform the audience about the ways in which class influences one’s opportunity for advancement and mobility in American society.||Logos: Explanations using data, caricature, Academic and government texts Pathos: Caricatures–put a face on data—humanizes it|
|Tyler Cowen||The labor market is demanding more re: credentials and ability and is rewarding a relatively small, cognitive elite.||College-educated business leaders, college-educated readers interested in the future of the economy.||Inform business leaders/potential employees of trends in the labor market.||Logos: statistics, graphs, explanations, informed opinion|
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