Women Struggle to Make It on Housemaid’s Wages

This month, Our Daily Lives presents a first-person account of journalist Barbara Ehrenreich. The author went undercover to take a series of low-paying, entry-level jobs and tried to live on her wages. “This is really a story of how hard you have to work to fail,” Ehrenreich said at a presentation of her book, “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” (Metropolitan Books, New York), at the New School in New York on May 14.The author describes starting work for a maid service in Maine:I get pushy with Rosalie, who is new like me and fresh from high school in a rural northern part of the state, about the meagerness of her lunches, which consists solely of Doritos–a half bag from the day before or a freshly purchased small-sized bag. She just didn’t have anything in the house, she says (though she lives with her boyfriend and his mother), and she certainly doesn’t have any money to buy lunch, as I find out when I offer to fetch her a soda from a Quick Mart and she has to admit she doesn’t have 89 cents. I treat her to the soda, wishing I could force her, mommy-like, to take milk instead.