Minimum Wage Jobs (Part 2 of 3)

21 03 2011

Note:  This post is a continuation of Minimum Wage Jobs (Part 1 of 3) that posted on March 20, 2011.

The cons list of minimum wage jobs (MWJs) is at least as long as the pros outlined in the previous post.  First, even with extra shifts and overtime, these jobs don’t add up to a lot of money.  It was fun pocket change as an individual, but I can’t imagine supporting a family on these wages.  Second, seniority is often more important than merit and skill.  In my very limited experience, raises are somewhat rare and are hardly noticeable when they are given.

For example, I was hired to be an assistant for different gymnastics classes and summer camp groups, and was told that my pay would start at $X because it was a training rate.  A couple of days in, the manager realized how much experience I had and that I was a strong performer, and assigned me my own group of kids – a very different job than what I was hired for.  I spoke with the managing director and suggested that she consider a raise to reflect my new role and pay me commensurate with the other coaches who were leading groups.  She agreed and said that she would speak with HR and raise my rate to reflect our conversation.  A few weeks later when I received my paycheck, I saw that my rate was raised by… an entire dollar.  A few people commented about how fantastic it was to receive a dollar increase instead of 50 cents, but the entire experience was very surprising, as I had thought the increment would be closer to $5 or maybe even $10.  (I had thought his because other coaches doing the same job were making $5+ more per hour, but this again goes back to the question of seniority vs. meritocracy.)

Third, clocking in and out is a complete nuisance.  I understand that it is important and practical for tracking hours, but I felt like someone was watching over my shoulder instead of offering the trust that I experienced at other jobs.  Once or twice I forgot to clock in before beginning to work, and it was essentially lost unpaid time.

Finally, the work environment seems to be very by the book.  The prevailing attitude is one of “this is your task” and anti-independent thinking, as opposed to valuing employees ideas about how to improve services and look out for the best interests of the company.  This is somewhat of a generalization, however I will give two brief examples in the next post, which is the third and final piece on MWJs.


Despite any drawbacks to my MWJ experience, check out my quasi-exciting attempt at a back tuck!

posted by ayo




7 responses

21 03 2011

The back tuck is very impressive! The raise? Not so much. Except that in most of the MWJ world a dollar would be huge.

21 03 2011

I agree with Cyndi, I remember when I worked for Staples one of my co-workers who had been there for a few years got a .10cent raise. So a dollar is huge and very rare. It’s pathetic!

21 03 2011

Awesome back tuck and splits! You’re looking great. Go you!

21 03 2011
Matt Simpson-Weber

Hey guys,
I LOVE your blog! I work up in the Fitness Center of the JCCSF. Are you guys ever coming up this way ( san Francisco)

28 03 2011

@Shira and Cyndi: Thanks for the back tuck lovin! You gotta celebrate the baby steps / minor achievements, right? 🙂

@Kris: You’re right. In retrospect, I can appreciate how a dollar per hour raise is a huge deal. But at the time, it was still pretty surprising.

@Matt: You’re so sweet! After Burning Man in September, we may explore Oregon and Washington for a bit, but once it gets cold we’ll probably head down the CA coast toward San Francisco. How did you hear about our blog?

29 03 2011

I heard about your Blog from “To Simplify” Blog.

2 04 2011

Awesome! I’m a big Glenn fan. If I can remember, I’d love to drop you a line and meet up next winter when we make our way to SF. Til then, enjoy the summer weather!

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