The real-life Nickel and Dimed—the author of the wildly popular “Poverty Thoughts” essay tells what it’s like to be working poor in America. ONE OF THE FIVE MOST IMPORTANT BOOKS OF THE YEAREsquire
“DEVASTATINGLY SMART AND FUNNY. I am the author of Nickel and Dimed, which tells the story of my own brief attempt, as a semi-undercover journalist, to survive on low-wage retail and service jobs. TIRADO IS THE REAL THING.”—Barbara Ehrenreich, from the Foreword
As the haves and have-nots grow more separate and unequal in America, the working poor don’t get heard from much. Now they have a voice—and it’s forthright, funny, and just a little bit furious.
Here, Linda Tirado tells what it’s like, day after day, to work, eat, shop, raise kids, and keep a roof over your head without enough money. She also answers questions often asked about those who live on or near minimum wage: Why don’t they get better jobs? Why don’t they make better choices? Why do they smoke cigarettes and have ugly lawns? Why don’t they borrow from their parents?
Enlightening and entertaining, Hand to Mouth opens up a new and much-needed dialogue between the people who just don’t have it and the people who just don’t get it.
Linda Tirado is a completely average American with two kids and, until recently, two jobs. Her essay “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, Poverty Thoughts” was picked up by the Huffington Post, the Nation, and countless other publications, and was read by more than six million people. This is her first book.
Table of Contents
Foreword Barbara Ehrenreich ix
1 It Takes Money to Make Money 1
2 You Get What You Pay For 13
3 You Can't Pay a Doctor in Chickens Anymore 31
4 I'm Not Angry So Much as I'm Really Tired 51
5 I've Got Way Bigger Problems Than a Spinach Salad Can Solve 79
6 This Part Is About Sex 93
7 We Do Not Have Babies for Welfare Money 103
8 Poverty Is Fucking Expensive 129
9 Being Poor Isn't a Crime-It Just Feels Like It 145
10 An Open Letter to Rich People 167
What People are Saying About This
From the Publisher
I’d like people to know that we’re not stupid. Our decisions are not made, nor our lives, lived in a vacuum. It’s not like we’re choosing to eat utter crap instead of quinoa. It’s that we’ve just worked eighteen solid hours and we still need to clean the house and we’re due back at work in eight hours and cooking takes sleep time. It’s the dopamine thing again. You know in So I Married An Axe Murderer, when the dad talks about how The Colonel puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes you crave it fortnightly, smartass? That’s actually true. Humans can become addicted to the food of the poor. We aren’t dumb, we know this. We just don’t have the energy to fight it and real food is expensive and time-consuming. And we don’t have the luxury of vanity; we know it’ll make us fat, but why on earth would we care? Are we going to suddenly become less marginalized if we are a size 12 instead of 20? Is that a thing that keeps the rent paid? No? Then we don’t care.
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