Meet Beth: a Discussion on Minimum Wage

At just under a population of five thousand, Amelia boasts a colorful medley of residents. From Tall Trees to Amelia Park, there are frequently new faces. The Amelia Kroger superstore, only a few years old, has brought hundreds of jobs and prospective residents into the Village. One of these employees is Beth Cake, living with her daughter’s family for the past five years. I first met Beth working as an opener for Kroger Clicklist. She showed up bright and early every morning at 5 AM, finishing the shift eight hours later. But, that wasn’t the only job Beth worked—she also worked a second job at a restaurant five nights a week—one where she was forced to stay as late as 3 AM to finish cleaning. That grueling shift would leave her thirty minutes at most to sleep until she had to get up once again to open at Kroger. Now, she only works two days a week at Kroger but still on average gets just 3-4 hours of sleep. As an employee subsisting on minimum wage, Beth believes that working multiple jobs is the only viable solution in order to stay afloat. And even then, multiple jobs may not cover the expenses of living entirely, driving many to stay with relatives or friends as in Beth’s case. In Beth’s opinion, “the minimum wage should be higher just so people can live a decent life and be able to take care of themselves and make their family comfortable.” She also discusses the issue of benefits; although she qualifies, it is too expensive through the employer because insurance means most of the paycheck swallowed up.
Beth’s experience with minimum wage is in no way singular. According to USA Today, 7.8 million people hold two or more jobs just to make ends meet and get out of debt. For those who cannot afford benefits, a serious illness or even a routine checkup can translate to an overwhelming flood of bills.
Beth’s advice to those not working at minimum wage level is to empathize—“put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a day and maybe you will realize what that person is going through. Appreciate the hard work that people do no matter what that job may be, and keep in mind that it just might not be their only job. Be kind and give a smile to someone that is working to help you—it will brighten their day.”