All of this was afforded to me not in the first month I was working at a restaurant, but after I put in the hours, made the sacrifices and sucked up my pride in order to make ends meet and figure out what I wanted to do and how to do it. I gave up holidays with my family in order to work extra shifts and make the good tips. I put up with people making rude comments, assuming I was just a wanna-be actress, assuming I didn’t go to college, all to make money. I lived with my mother, my first roommate, and then moved in with two others soon after because living in New York by yourself is a luxury, not an affordable option. I commuted 40 minutes each way each day at first, sometimes missing the late night train and having to sit in Penn Station for an extra hour or two waiting to get home. I dealt with the pitying looks of my former classmates or their parents when they would see me at the hostess stand or walking into the service station in my heels, laughing to myself knowing their child was addicted to coke and hating their “amazing” job. I paid my dues. I did what I had to do in order to survive, with the help of my family. I was gracious and thankful and worked as hard as I could even if it was a job that sometimes made me question my worth. And I was successful because of that.
Being an English major isn’t the problem. Minimum wage isn’t the problem (in this case). Do I like Yelp? Not particularly. Do I like that CEOs make pathetic amounts of money? Not particularly. But turning this girl’s inability to work for what she wants into a conversation about poverty (Poverty! She lives in the Bay Area alone and has a corporate job and can afford fancy bourbon! Not exactly the picture of a third world crisis!) and wage issues, it’s utter bullshit. This is about this girl’s personal responsibility to be an adult and find a job, or two (God forbid she have to give up a weekend day to be a waitress), an an affordable living situation and an affordable city in which to work. Yelp, as bad as they are and as much as I hate the assholes who use it to pretend they are New York Times food critics about the Applebees on Walnut St., is not the issue in this moment. The issue is that this girl doesn’t think working a second job or getting roommates should be something she has to do in order to get ahead after three months of an entry level job in the most expensive city in the country. She believes Yelp should cover the cost of the financial decisions she’s made which include living alone and accepting that salary, two options that any sane person would never make. She believes she deserves these things that most of us would call luxuries. You expected to get what you thought you deserved rather than expected to work for what you had to earn. And that’s the problem entirely.