36 year-old DESTROYS 29-year-old millennial who “ripped” 25-year-old Yelp employee who got fired after complaining about her salary
On Friday, a Yelp/Eat24 employee wrote a blog post to her CEO about her minimum wage compensation, which she said came out to about $8 an hour after taxes. A few hours later, she was fired. It imploded certain pockets of the postgrad internet and ignited a debate about how billion dollar companies are getting away with paying minimum wage for their lowest tier workers, especially in an area with a high cost of living. Naturally a tangentially-related backlash to the girl’s entire life choices and character, most of which inferred and speculative; things that have nothing to do with a minimum wage debate, inspired millennial brats like Stefanie Williams to write masturbatorily smug responses. This is my response to her.
Dear Stefanie Williams,
After reading your bizarre excuse for a mini autobiography detailing the privileged yet banal struggle you dealt with in your early 20s, which was apparently supposed to be a response to a younger woman’s perfectly reasonable request for a larger hourly rate, I felt it imperative to give you a taste of your own medicine and above all, your painfully deep need to acknowledge your own privilege, so maybe some advice will help while you piss all over what — to me — sounds an awful lot like a less fortunate (and far kinder) version of your younger self. If nothing else, I hope you might learn the meaning of the “grace and humility.” you’ve anointed yourself with. Spoiler: kicking a younger sister when she’s down in self-congratulatory snark is neither gracious nor humble.
My name is Sara. I’m not much older than you. I will be turning the big 3–7 in April. It seems like a lifetime ago, but here I am, having survived my 20’s long enough to put them in perspective and be grateful to be far enough out of them that they do in fact appear to be over. Despite our less-than-a-decade difference in age, it seems we are worlds apart in the concept of reading comprehension. But somehow, I’m not surprised. Those seven little years are incredibly important.
You were let go at 22 years old from your first office job. But maybe because you weren’t confused and scared long enough to really let it soak in that day, you’ve completely forgotten what that feels like. You wandered into a bar where the old Irish bartender was a family friend (privilege! Connections!) hoping he’d give you a drink and some advice about your plight. But instead, he effectively offered you a job right there as a hostess. Who the fuck does that even happen to? Everyone else who ever went to a bar immediately upon being fired doesn’t walk out with an interview for a job. But you were young, pretty, and white, and clearly were surrounded by a support network that Talia doesn’t have. In San Francisco, server jobs are just as tough to get as any other job in the Bay Area, because there are lots of Talias here, and lots, for that matter, of Stefanies.
I, too, was an English major prior to switching to graphic design because I naively thought it was the more practical career path. Creative people, believe it or not, are screwed six ways from Sunday regardless of which version of humanities they study, yet we all have the right to eat whether or not we have figured out any use for our degrees. Perhaps more importantly, without masses of creative people, you would never be able to afford to get your food delivered. But I never dreamed of “living out in the big city with all my friends”. I was never young enough to dream about something like that. Dreaming, too, is a privilege denied to many who are in an unstable environment and dream, instead, of distance and survival by any means necessary. And this is where the reading comprehension comes in that you somehow missed while studying literature for years:
“I also desperately needed to leave where I was living — I could get into the details of why, but to sum up: I wanted to die every single day of my life and it took me several years to realize it was because of the environment I was in.” — Talia
Here’s the thing: If you have a shred of empathy in your soul, you don’t need much more information than that to read between the lines or at the very least, take her at her word on that. All over Talia’s piece, there were details that reeked of her not having much of a support network. Heartbreakingly, the only thing Talia had to go on was a desire for good weather and the hope to have a better relationship with her father. Also: no one puts a move on a shiny new credit card unless they are desperate, sad people. The “entitled” people you are looking for put all sorts of things on a credit card: moving isn’t one of them. Moving is an incredibly boring thing to splurge on. Moving is, next to a death in the family, one of the most statistically stressful things you can do.
You worked as a hostess. You waitressed. You “did that while looking for another job that was more [your] speed, something [your] mother could be proud of, something worthy of [your] English Language and Literature degree and [your] Chaucer reciting mind.”
First of all, the Chaucer bit made me roll my eyes. I find it implausible that you comprehend Chaucer at all given that you have such a hard time reading Talia’s piece. Talia’s piece is probably a 6th grade reading level; not lofty enough for you to be so confused as to its meaning. Yet your equally simple response to her seemed to suggest again and again that you either didn’t read it, or couldn’t understand it. Talia: 1 Stefanie: 0
Second of all, you have a mother who made you want her to be proud of you. Congratulations. That right there is another thing that not everybody has. Some of us have estranged or strained relationships with our mothers. Some of us don’t have mothers at all. But not you. Only privileged people are embarrassed to be working as a waitress because their very present mothers are waiting there, full of love, for you to blossom (in your case into a snarky self-satisfied prat).
Then you ramble on about how great it would be to tell people you worked at Conde Nast or Vogue. First of all, Conde Nast owns Vogue so the “or” is confusing. Maybe you should have done your homework. It’s part of the “work ethic” you have — again — anointed yourself with. Second: Around this same paragraph in Talia’s piece, she’s talking about her coworker’s struggles. You see, her piece isn’t just about her. It’s about all the ways that good, hard working people are taking whatever work they can get — and still being punished for it. Last time I checked, when you’re poor, taking whatever work you can get is a pretty responsible thing to do. Yet some are still homeless, some are in trouble, some live at home — an option that is clearly not an option for Talia for whatever reason, but WAS an option for you. YOU lived at home with your aforementioned living and supportive mom, which is one reason why you were able to afford to commute via the LIRR. Lots of people would KILL to have parents who would welcome them with open arms and give them a home during a period of life adjustment.
Next you talk about how bad you felt that you ran into old classmates and felt inferior, even going so far as to be so uncomfortable with your comparatively unexciting job, that you threw in there that you bet they were lying. But here’s the funny thing: nowhere in Talia’s piece does she talk about anything similar. She doesn’t really dwell much on her dreams beyond the admission that when she was eight years old, she “dreamed of having a car and a credit card and her own apartment.” At least Talia stopped dreaming when she was eight. She didn’t sit on her comfortable commute on the LIRR well into her 20s being jealous of her classmates and imagining that they were lying to make herself feel better instead of being grateful for what she had. She didn’t mention anything like that. That was all you.
You got a cocktail waitressing job despite never having made a drink in your life you lucky duck. You cried in your private party room and questioned how you had ended up clearing the plates of people you went to high school with. Talia, again, never really talked about the supposed shame of doing less exciting things than others. She wrote about always being hungry. Again: did you even read her piece? If this were English Comp 101 I would give you a C for spirit, but ask you to read it again and stop going off on personal, unrelated tangents.
“I had to miss Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve with my family and friends“ OHREALLY. You had a place to go for holidays with family and everything? Damn, girl, you pretty much had THE LIFE and you didn’t even realize it. I’m basically picturing Norman Rockwell painting your life. You were probably surrounded in those holiday shifts by people working alongside you who were there to escape the reality that they had nowhere to go for the holidays — and you probably didn’t see that either. You’re proud that you “gave up” holidays with your family for extra tips? Seriously? I hope they are reading this and I hope they feel loved. You keep saying things like how you “sucked up [your] pride” as if Talia can eat and derive nutrients from pride. Her piece — again — wasn’t about her disappointment that she was fed, but not working in an exciting career — that was all you. It was about how she wasn’t making enough to meet her basic, human rights needs.
“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.” — you. Your sour-ass comparison issues.
Please read Talia’s piece and compare. Here I’ll help:
“Every single one of my coworkers is struggling. They’re taking side jobs, they’re living at home. One of them started a GoFundMe because she couldn’t pay her rent. She ended up leaving the company and moving east, somewhere the minimum wage could double as a living wage. Another wrote on those neat whiteboards we’ve got on every floor begging for help because he was bound to be homeless in two weeks. Fortunately, someone helped him out. At least, I think they did. I actually haven’t seen him in the past few months. Do you think he’s okay?” — Talia
See the difference? Empathy. Kindness. Just as you assumed your classmates are all on coke and lying about their amazing jobs (I really hope they stumble across your writing…) you are doing the same thing to Talia: looking for the worst in people, and finding it, because you pretty much see what you want to see. That’s a poor reflection of you, not Talia.
You paid your dues, so did Talia. You did what you had to do in order to survive, so did Talia. With the help of your family — Talia not so much. You might think you were “gracious and thankful” along the way, but all I am seeing is memories of sourness, spite, and jealousy.
And you were successful because of that. You were successful because, compared to Talia, and despite of your whining disdain for others, you lead a charmed life full of opportunities you were given, not ones you earned; bad citrus smelling and all.
Next you go on and on about various tiny details that Talia could have done to cut costs, “budget in a way that was more practical”, and “applied for jobs that were more about salary and growth than bragging rights and trends”
LOLZ. What exactly about working for Eat24 is a job about bragging rights and trends? You did that — not Talia. YOU fantasized about working at Conde Nast, not Talia.
And THEN the kicker: You stated that Talia has “a family who I would assume is helping you out at the moment” which is an incredible assumption to make. Talia has access to her Grandfather’s broken car and she’s apparently the only one who can fix it. Talia moved to the area to be “close to her father” with whom she admitted she had not much of a relationship with. And YOU assume that her family is not only whole, but helping her out. Despite that everything in her piece screams about the lack of a support network. Reading comprehension: F.
“Take a job you might be embarrassed by in order to make ends meet.” Pretty sure that’s what the Eat24 job was; you know, the subject of her piece. Talia as good as told us that a million other people could perform her job. Only you, Stefanie Sociopathy, seem to be suffering under the delusion that working for $8 in a thankless, lowest tier job isn’t hard work.
I personally went to college with people whose parents paid for them to go to college. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine how wonderful that would be? Some of them even had allowances for living expenses. Some of them had apartments their parents paid for while they were in school. I can’t even imagine what life must be like for people that privileged. Perhaps you are one of those people, Stefanie. It would explain a lot about how you OWN every single one of your blessings and label it as “having a work ethic” But I don’t see any more of a work ethic than what Talia has. You were willing to work a shitty job; You want a medal for it. Talia just wants to eat.
And then you said “Minimum wage isn’t the problem in this case.” Except that you would have never heard of Talia if she were making a living wage. Hmm. Funny, that minor detail.
Then you told her “She could work two jobs!” In San Francisco, it’s pretty hard to get ONE job, let alone two. Like I said, there are a LOT of Stefanies in this town. You’d know that if you didn’t get your opinion of what life must be like in San Francisco from magazines.
It’s worth noting that Talia hasn’t necessarily lived the life of the Little Match Girl. If she lives alone and doesn’t need to, it’s cheaper to get roommates. Maybe she’s on a lease. Maybe she lives in a studio. Maybe it would only be $200 a month less to live with roommates and $200 is a pittance for the peace that comes from not having to live with potentially crazy people. There are a LOT of crazy people in San Francisco. $1200 a month is cheap in SF for a small bedroom in a larger apartment, so clearly she’s doing something right somewhere in there. She mentioned she lives pretty far away from where she works and that transportation expenses ain’t cheap.
If she actually bought the bourbon (that you mentioned twice) after creeping her Instagram (creeper) then that’s probably a bad idea. But the thing is, people have been speculating about the indulgences of poor people for an eternity, without bothering to ask them or without bothering to speculate in the positive if they’re going to speculate at all. Apparently you’re one of those sneering bitches who stands in line at Trader Joe’s behind someone with an iPhone who is on food stamps. The proverbial “iPhone” or “bourbon” or “X” is almost always a gift from a support network, or a vestige of better times that was cheaper to hang onto than get rid of. If she did make any financial mistakes or financial indulgences since her move, then I’ll bet she felt the effects from that for months after. Poverty has a wonderful way of slapping you repeatedly on the wrist for tiny, otherwise insignificant choices you made when you were tired months before. But hey, let’s ask Talia:
“A majority of what I posted were things I already had before my move [in August 2015],” she said. “Some were things that were bought for me to make, and some were downright free. You can do the math and probably figure out that the only ‘income’ I had that wasn’t used on bills came from a credit card, which I had nearly maxed out over the past six months to pay for gas, train fare, laundry, and additional ‘luxury’ things that were justifiable expenses in context.” …” The cupcakes and the bourbon, she explained, were for a company-wide bakeoff that offered cash prizes.”
Because the more important question; the thing Talia’s piece is actually ABOUT, is that it should be criminal for billion dollar companies to pay minimum wage at the current rate; especially if they deign to set up their office in a place where the cost of living is high. It’s good that Yelp is moving those jobs somewhere rent is cheap. But the damage for them is done, and fuck them for not consulting PR before kneejerk-firing their minions. All of their advertising, all of their public image down to their incredibly ugly 90s logo: All of it has been undone by one honest post describing how they treat their lowest level employees. That speaks volumes to me about what kind of company they are. Talia even included the good things that company was doing, such as offering her kinda-affordable healthcare or providing snacks at work. Bay Area companies are notorious for having figured out that offering their lowest level employees bells and whistles is a wonderfully cost effective smokescreen for what they actually pay human beings.
But you, Stefanie, you believe that you got where you are today because of hard work, whereas someone else’s hard work doesn’t deserve to be as fruitful as yours, it doesn’t even deserve to be called “hard work”. And that’s the problem entirely.
If I’ve learned anything in the seven extra years I’ve been alive longer than you Stefanie, it’s this: hard work is just hard work. Sometimes it pays off. Sometimes — overwhelmingly often — it doesn’t. As Talia’s coworkers have learned, all the hard work in the world can’t pay the rent unless you’re getting paid what that work is truly worth.
Post Edit: Several people have expressed confusion about the “clickbaity” title which is *very much* a tongue-in-cheek response to the original clickbaity title in the Business Insider piece where I first encountered Stefanie’s response.