Nickel and Dimed, by Barbra Ehrenreich, depicts the truth about low-income living in the United States. But rather than just writing about it, she actually did it. She chose various places across the country to conduct her observation and participation. She did what very few people would have had the courage to do. Hopefully, her book will change the way people look at low-wage work and possibly even change, for the better, the way low-income workers live their lives everyday.
When reading the book, there were many examples of all four principals of McDonaldization throughout. The first principal, efficiency, was the most common example, found very frequently. When she was working as a server at a restaurant called Hearthside, in Key West, she did not only work as a server. Ehrenreich had to do other chores such as sweeping, mopping, consolidating ketchup bottles, etc. By making the servers do other such chores, they are saving money. Hearthside can just have the servers do the cleaning as well as serve tables so they do not have to hire more people. The management at Hearthside does not care about overworking their employees as long as they profit from doing so. Another example of efficiency came from when she was working for The Maids, a cleaning service in Portland. “When you enter a house, you spray a white rag with Windex and place it in the left pocket of your green apron. Another rag, sprayed with disinfectant, goes into the middle pocket, and a yellow rag bearing wood polish in the right-hand pocket. A dry rag, for buffing surfaces, occupies the right-hand pocket of your slacks” (73). By doing this, it minimizes the time spent fumbling with bottles of different kinds of surface cleaners. The employees can just pull the needed rag from its pocket and it’s ready to be used. This also minimizes the amount of effort put into the chore. There is no need to drag around the various cleaning solutions.
The second principal is uniformity. One example from the book that stood out to me was the system that The Maids have for cleaning a customer’s home. “For vacuuming, begin in the master bedroom; when dusting, begin in the room directly off the kitchen. When you enter a room, mentally divide it into sections no wider than your reach. Begin in the section to your left and, with each section, move from left to right and top to bottom. This way nothing is ever overlooked” (73). When first reading this, I thought that it seemed like an unnecessary rule to remember, but after reading about the sorts of houses they clean, it is necessary. When The Maids are cleaning Mrs. W’s house she has to follow the system in order to make sure she does all the rooms, and to make sure she does not do the same room twice. “The Maids’ system turned out to be a lifesaver” (81).
When working at Wal-Mart in Minneapolis, Ehrenreich, and her co-workers, have a very strict dress code. “No nose or other facial jewelry, we learn; earrings must be small and discreet, not...