Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
The real-life Nickel and Dimed—the author of the wildly popular “Poverty Thoughts” essay tells what it’s like to be working poor in America. ONE OF THE FIVE MOST IMPORTANT BOOKS OF THE YEAR--Esquire
“DEVASTATINGLY SMART AND FUNNY. I am the author of Nickel and Dimed, which tells the story of my own brief attempt, as a semi-undercover journalist, to survive on low-wage retail and service jobs. TIRADO IS THE REAL THING.”—Barbara Ehrenreich, from the Foreword
As the haves and have-nots grow more separate and unequal in America, the working poor don’t get heard from much. Now they have a voice—and it’s forthright, funny, and just a little bit furious.
Here, Linda Tirado tells what it’s like, day after day, to work, eat, shop, raise kids, and keep a roof over your head without enough money. She also answers questions often asked about those who live on or near minimum wage: Why don’t they get better jobs? Why don’t they make better choices? Why do they smoke cigarettes and have ugly lawns? Why don’t they borrow from their parents?
Enlightening and entertaining, Hand to Mouth opens up a new and much-needed dialogue between the people who just don’t have it and the people who just don’t get it.
get a second job and being told that I can’t work more than twenty-eight hours a week either. The result of all of this? I just give up caring about work. I lose the energy, the bounce, the willingness. I’ll perform as directed, but no more than that. I’ve rarely had a boss who gave me any indication that he valued me more highly than my uniform—we were that interchangeable—so I don’t go out of my way for my bosses either. The problem I have isn’t just being undervalued—it’s that it feels as
who could be mentors are still working in politics. I had to turn those jobs down—the ones I was offered, anyway. Often I didn’t even bother to send in my résumé in the first place, because I knew I couldn’t afford to work for so little. Mostly, I found myself perpetually stuck on the bottom rung, watching people I’d started out with vault above me because they weren’t doing anything but this and they could afford to take the financial hits while they were paying their dues. Here’s another thing
caseworker who called just to check in because she knew I’d gotten a new job. And I had one who ignored me completely, just had me sit silently at her desk until she needed me to verify my information. Then she ignored me some more, and then she told me I could go. I left, with no idea what had just happened. I called the state to find out what changes she’d made to my file the next day rather than speak up during that incredibly effective stonewall. I’ve felt the poorest with the people who
thank you. Or we scream that we are from streets somewhere, that we will take no shit, that our neighborhood doesn’t have a place for weakness in it and it makes us hard like warriors. It also makes me say “fuck.” A lot. It’s my vernacular as a matter of habit, and I developed it as a defense mechanism. Saying “fuck,” especially as a woman, is the quickest and easiest way to assert that you aren’t to be fucked with, or at least that you’re pretending well enough. It’s a tough word, a vulgar
like coke to stay focused. College kids take Ritalin to study. I flirt with addiction, drinking too much coffee and smoking too much, but I’ve never let myself go there because I think it’d be too much of a relief and I’d never be able to come back voluntarily. And if I were dragged back, I’d face a lifetime of having to say no to one more thing that I knew would make me feel good. I doubt I’d do well with that. I’m not particularly strong that way. Self-medication is a thing that exists. We