“Destiny Greenawalt is the mother to four children under the age of ten. She’s also employed full time, working an average of 40 to 50 hours per week. And her schedule is variable, meaning that many of the days Destiny is at work, are days you would probably have off. In this episode, Destiny talks about striking a balance between work and home, when there often isn’t a lot of comfort to be found in either place.
Destiny Greenawalt had her first child eight years ago. That was three years after she started the job that she’s had for the past decade. Destiny’s job is entry-level. If it’s not minimum wage – which in the state of Pennsylvania is set at the Federal Minimum Wage of $7.25 per hour – it’s pretty damn close.
The United States set that minimum wage in 2009 and Pennsylvania is one of 21 states – less than half of the states in the nation – that mirrors the federal numbers. According to an article by Marc Levy for the Associated Press, dated November of 2019, ” About 385,000 people in Pennsylvania hold a job that pays between $7.25 an hour and $9.50 an hour, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry. “
By contrast, the retail cost of a gallon of milk in Pennsylvania as of Jan. 6, 2020, is $4.34. More than a half hour of work, as Destiny states in her interview. The cost of a gallon of gas is $2.92. Depending on what fuel you use to heat your home, you could be looking at $150 a month to keep your pipes, and your kids, from freezing.
A person working 40 hours a week at $7.25 per hour can expect to bring home around $250 a week.
Just stop for a second and think about how long it would take you to spend $250 in a week, and where that money would go. Which bills would you pay? What would you feed your kids? Can you afford the gas to get back and forth to work on $250 a week? How about the insurance? Can you afford your rent? Your water bill?
Hope you don’t have a car note.
As someone who’s working full time for, comparatively, well above minimum wage and raising two kids, I can tell you that if I am not being paid for a day off, I’m for sure not taking one. I will literally drag myself into work on my deathbed and I give exactly zero shits if you catch my pneumonia because I can’t miss a car payment. Not with my credit. Because my interest rate is already through the roof, and it can’t be lowered, because I can’t fix my credit score or refinance on a surplus of approximately $15 to $20 a week.
And that’s the problem. The worse off you are financially the harder it becomes and, at a certain point, there just is no catching up, as Destiny and I said in this episode.
I’m fortunate in that my job is 8:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday, with holidays off and a bit of flexibility. I can work through lunch to get out an hour early if I need to, most of the time. People working in foodservice and retail rarely have that luxury, and if they do, it needs to be worked out weeks in advance. It’s also highly subject to the whims of others. So if your relief doesn’t make it in when you’re supposed to be leaving for your kid’s Christmas concert, you’re not going to the Christmas concert.
More than anything, though, I wish more people could understand the exhaustion that Destiny describes. It’s physical, of course, but it’s ten times more emotional. When you start to feel like a rat trapped in a maze, eventually you just start to lose steam. You start to lose ambition. Everything starts to feel like a losing battle, and once that happens – whether it’s precipitated by work, or kids, or chores, or just basic life – it starts to bleed into every other domain of your life in alarmingly short order.
So every good blog post and podcast episode includes a call to action. Mine are fairly consistent: share episodes with friends, rate and review the show on your podcast platform of choice. And, if you can, consider becoming a Patron for as little as one dollar a month.
But this week I’m going to invite you to prioritize this call to action: Make it your mission, for even one day, to be kind to the people behind the cash registers and the commercial kitchens you encounter every day. Tell the barista you like her hair, or that you appreciate how she always remembers that your large iced americano gets four shots of espresso and not three. Because that makes your day. So go make hers right back.