Ms. Stefanie Williams,
I resonated with your story about getting let go from an office job and finding your feet via the service industry. As women we are especially reminded not to compare ourselves to others, but at the age of 22 how can we not? I understand that life doesn’t move in a straight line, learning is not linear, and that money is money. Like you said, it is difficult when you have to clear the plates of former peers who are fresh out of an internship, looking at a promotion, and are able to have Saturday nights (especially when you or I are used to being the Saturday night.) So I respect your background with serving, I understand your struggle, but that gives you no right to pass judgement so severely and vengefully on Talia Williams.
I read Talia’s letter before sending you my own (although I didn’t need to because your words and logic were foul enough to critique without knowing what prompted them.) Talia’s letter gave me some insight into her life: she has suffered from mental issues, she is diligent and organized judging by the figures she presents for her own life, her bosses life, and the financing of her company. Lastly, she was writing not for her own sake, but for that of her coworkers as well. I thought her story was one of the many cases of someone in a compromising position who is left tugging at the sleeve of corporate greed, trying desperately to be heard. To say that her woes are a result of work ethic, snobbery, and poor spending is a comment that is fed from naiveté and vindictiveness. On the contrary, I don’t think it is possible to work for such minimal pay without drive. I’m not sure why you took the time to describe your story in such depth. If it was to pale Talia’s suffering and experiences, I would say your efforts were obsolete. Talia’s suffering was very real. Her points about corporate misconduct were informed. She tugged at the sleeves of a corporation that promptly swatted her out of earshot, and that very fact should signal to you that the corporation is what needs scolding.
We are in an age where minimum wage is no longer an acceptable base salary for anyone to live on. That is a fact. We all know the economy is shit, and for the most part, workers’ wages remain at an all-time low relative to everyone else. Ironically enough, we are simultaneously in an age where base salary workers are labeled as entitled, narcissistic, and lazy for wanting a liveable wage. The ones who shame the ambitious worker justify their scorn through their own stories, as if base salary employees deserve their own poverty, aren’t struggling enough, or struggle as a result of their own failures. . This is a type of victim blaming and that is exactly what you did, Ms. Williams. You used your own story and past to shame a young girl into thinking she deserves her discomfort. You used your own story to tell a young woman to shut up: a woman who questioned authority, who tried to ripple the waters in her work place. You silenced her, and by doing so, you wished on her further obstacles so that she can succeed according to your own definition of success (via the restaurant industry, which is weirdly specific and not a viable option for everyone).
My letter to you isn’t covering the possibilities that Talia has a chronic or mental illness. It is not covering all of the “ifs ands or buts” that could apply to why she doesn’t have two jobs, a roommate, and why she didn’t buy the cheaper bottle of bourbon (who cares?). I could go into how I don’t think anyone can ‘choose’ a job, and that we have to take what we can get especially if we think it will build a resume. There is nothing wrong with calling out a bullshit corporate job for being bullshit. I’m ending my letter with an informal opinion: its fucking embarrassing that we attack the integrity of someone calling out minimum wage before we attack the corporation and wage inequality. And another one: you’re bitter and presumptuous in all the wrong ways and I hope you stop hating women who want better for themselves just because they aren’t suffering hard enough.