No Holiday When Working Poor

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

LAKE MACBRIDE— Christmas is a busy time for retail workers. The end of year holidays, stretching from Halloween until the Super Bowl are a key time for companies to close sales that impact annual results. A lot of part-time and seasonal workers are needed to get everything done.

The working poor I know have their hands full of wage-earning opportunities at multiple jobs. For most, having Christmas Day off is not a benefit. It is a time to bank wages for the slow times coming later in winter. If hours were available Christmas Day, many would gladly work them.

My previous retail work ended when I left home to attend college. It was a part-time job stocking shelves in the drug department of a box store. We handled everything from sanitary napkins to record albums. As long as I had money to fuel my car, eat out with friends once in a while and buy some personal items, most of the dollars went into savings for college. In retrospect, it wasn’t many dollars, but a dollar had more buying power in the late 1960s.

My high school job is an example of how some view the current role of low wage jobs in society. They are dreaming. It bolsters an argument to keep minimum wage where it is, or eliminate it altogether. The truth is today people pay living expenses from low wage jobs like I had, and work at more than one job to earn enough to keep the bill collector from their door. Low wages are not about getting people a start in their work life. Working poor is a never ending vortex of not enough money to pay expenses with little time for a break, let alone a vacation or holiday.

There is help for working poor and I don’t refer to government social programs. It is social networking. Car broke down? A loaner is offered. Don’t have a car? Rides are shared. Turned out of your apartment? There is a couch or extra room. Need a job? Maybe you can work where I do. Social networking has always been around. When working poor it is a necessity and way of life.

We live by the choices we make in life, and no one chooses to work poor. The progressive lament that working poor is wrong isn’t helping as life goes on and we make up for losing a day’s wages somewhere else as one of our employers closes for the Dec. 25 holiday. There is no holiday when working poor.

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