Okay, so this is probably the most political post you’ll ever see on my page because I willingly choose not to engage in debates over the internet. But there is something I really feel like I need to say, and for those of you who disagree, do just that: disagree. It’s just my point of view and I’m not looking to change your mind.
That said, I just want to say: last week Los Angeles raised it’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
I started right out of high school working minimum-wage. At the time it was $6.75 an hour. Due to circumstances, I moved out of my mother’s house and figured out how to make ends meet (note, I ate a LOT of Ramen Noodles and drank a LOT of Kool-Aid.) It was horrible, and borderline degrading, but I lived through it. I took the job as a Clerk at PetCo knowing I wasn’t going to make minimum wage forever, knowing that this was just the start of my life-long contribution to the workforce. I knew that, once the opportunity came along, I was on to the next big adventure.
The next job I had was a Courtesy Clerk at Vons. Man, was that hard work, and it only paid a dollar more than minimum-wage. On this job, I was able to get away from a hairy family situation, move into my own apartment (a studio, in the bad part of town) and start attending school. I worked my tail off, trying to work my way up to the coveted Checker job (which at the time, made a whopping $9 an hour) so I could eat something other than Ramen and Kool Aid for dinner. But I kept going, knowing that my future wasn’t working for the grocery store pushing carts and bagging groceries for the rest of my life.
Several job offers and promotions later, I went through LVN trade school. It was horribly difficult; having to waitress until late night, make my car payments and pay bills while trekking back and forth 60 miles a day, just to better myself.
I didn’t get the nursing job right away. I got my foot in the door at the hospital as a transporter, and worked as a CNA for 4 years. I got my experience, got out, and now I finally work at a relatively calm office job, that has given me the best pay I’ve ever earned. It’s not a six-figure income, no, but it makes things more comfortable than the 10 years I’ve been in the workforce.
Here’s the thing: when the county raised the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour, it became an insult to my experience and education. Why? I’ve worked the past 10 years to work up to where I am. I grasped at opportunities, and worked for every cent in my raises. When this minimum wage law passed, I now make only a few dollars more than the guy who works at Burger King. I’m not mad at my employer for this, actually, they’ve been extremely generous in offering me a job with security and health benefits. But, you know what? I earned it through hard work and perseverance. I wouldn’t be at the job I have, with the position I’ve taken, without a college degree if I hadn’t stayed the extra hours of overtime (some weeks exceeded 60 hours), put forth my best effort and tried my hardest to show my peers and mentors what I’m made of.
I clawed my way to my mid-level job, working in a position that employs foreign medical graduates, biology majors and RNs, and lot of them continuing their education to go on to something bigger and better one day. No, I don’t have the college degree, yet. But I didn’t qualify for financial aid because for the past 5 years, I’ve made over the $22,000 “poverty line” requirement that aids struggling students in receiving free education. I pay the $45-100 a unit, which some semesters, has had to take a back seat. And you know what? I’m okay with that. Education has helped me take small steps in my journey, but it was my attitude and determination that got me farther that I ever thought I would.
My mentors know that I’m not going to be there forever, that there is the possibility of medical school or physician assistant on the horizon, and they encourage me to shoot for the moon.
You know why? Because I worked, and I continue to work. And I will work until it’s time for retirement, because that’s what I do, and I’m going to do it to the BEST of my ability until then.
To wrap things up, I just need to throw this in there: stop complaining. We live in a culture of pessimists. The “I can’t, do it for me” generation. The generation where we still live with our parents, work at Taco Bell, or Denny’s, or Albertson’s, and can’t see past Friday, because the world is a harsh, harsh place. “We are the 99%” “Student Loan Crisis” “$15 minimum wage” “The little guy can’t make it”.
Here’s some advice, from an anomaly from this generation: Be Positive. Look up, have dreams, move forward. It’s going to get better someday. If you work hard, put in the extra hours, have a positive attitude, people are going to notice and your life goes from there.
So go ahead, make some lists, have a dream and see where you’ll be in 10 years. It won’t be at minimum wage, I promise.
“Life isn’t about trying to make it through the storm, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”