It seemed most of us read Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich, and attended the discussion! It was a big group, with everyone having ideas! Nickel and Dimed is an important book! Our discussion was fascinating, ranging from dislike of the author for her arrogance to the pros and cons of WalMart as savior or societal menace. Karen had researched WalMart , so she fueled the discussion with facts. We had some ideas of things that our society needs to do. I think most of us agreed that some government programs are very helpful, and that the government's measuring the poverty level against food prices rather than lodging prices is old-fashioned and is part of the problem of the working poor. An interesting question Karen asked everyone was, "What surprised you when you read this book?" We were surprised about the poverty of people who have full-time and sometimes multiple jobs, we were surprised that hired maids are trained to make our houses look clean rather than be clean, and we were surprised that the invisible poor have been invisible to us.
Today, I went to WalMart. I bought some mulch. An elderly employee, maybe a fixed-income retired man, was stuck with helping me. He had shorts on (outdoor garden dept.) and was wearing thick support stockings. When I told him what kind of mulch I wanted, he said, "Oh, that's what I was afraid of. That's the heavy kind!" He was very helpful, though. I helped him load one bag onto my cart, but then he was going to load the rest onto a big platform cart, and he did that himself while I took my bag to the cashier to pay for the batch and then went to get the car. Fortunately, another gray-haired man was there to help him the first guy load the mulch into the car. Apparently, the guy they wanted to do the lifting was at lunch - this is probably a young guy who ends up with most of the lifting, which is OK with him...for now. So, here was an example of someone who has to walk a lot and lift a lot to keep his job but who has definite physical limitations. It definitely brought Nickel and Dimed to mind!