Email from a Current Student (Why we need Bernie now more than ever)

November 2, 2019

In Blog Letters To Finkelstein

Dear professor,
I worked a double shift at the restaurant yesterday (10 hours) and felt so burnt out. Of course it’s not the first time. Usually I have to work a double every Saturday (10-12 hours) since my coworker left, but I generally can leave early for the second shift.
I was just so tired after yesterday and thinking about tomorrow (Saturday)’s long hours made me even more dead.  I asked my coworkers if they could cover for me. None of them are available. One told me “sorry I’ll be at my another job. My boyfriend is mad at me.” I said “because you work too much?” She said yes. I told her sometimes I get mad at my boyfriend because he works too much too.
All of my coworkers (except for the manager who works overtime at the restaurant) have 2-3 jobs, or have school, or school + job + unpaid internship. I used to have a coworker who had full time school + 3 part time jobs. My boyfriend has a full time day job, a part time night job, occasionally a third night job + side gigs. Most of them are artists: actors, dancers, musicians, or in school, or newly graduated. People I know from Hunter are also ALL working, usually full time.
I consider myself to be extremely lucky that I have a job that’s near my house, easy and flexible, and my coworkers are amazing. Of course the downside is I’m paid a slave wage. I also feel I’m not working hard enough (which is true, both physically and intellectually) while others are busting their ass. I don’t know why, as Americans, they can’t just get a 9-5 corporate job that pays more. I know it’s easy for me to say this because I’m ignorant. For some, because they don’t like it (one of my coworkers used to teach in college but all she wants to do is acting), for some, because they can’t find one.
If we are paid a living wage, we don’t need a second job.
If we don’t have student debt, we don’t need a second job.
If we have rich parents, we don’t need a second job.
I wonder how those immigrants made it. Those who came here with nothing, who can barely speak English. Yet they made it. While young Americans are struggling so much, burdened with debt, can’t find a good job, can’t afford health insurance, live paycheck by paycheck. Why?
Living in poverty has taken its toll on me, psychologically and physically. But I’m still the lucky one because I have Medicaid. Meanwhile my boyfriend just has enough income to be disqualified for Medicaid but can’t afford health insurance premiums.
Professor, can you please tell me again the name and time of your class in Brooklyn college next spring? Although I’m afraid I may not be able to take it because of time conflicts with another class.
Have a good weekend! I’m not ready for tomorrow’s 12 hours.