Sunday, September 15, 2013

Underemployed Overtime

A raised bed, fireplace, rocking chair and desk were all considered luxuries at one time.

Sometimes I feel overworked from my job as a server at a popular non-chain restaurant, but then I immediately feel a little guilty because I meet so many people who are unemployed or underemployed and would love to have a well-paying job which would allow them to work overtime. My beekeeping mentor (who is in his mid-fifties) works in a factory and has the same problem with the least amount of time he has worked in the past three months has been a 60hr week. Why are some people working overtime when there are so many people out of work and those wanting to work more hours? I would be financially ok with working only 30hrs a week at my current rate of pay. My job could easily support two of me, and yet my employer chooses to employee one me and is legally obligated to pay overtime. It would make more financial sense for my employer to hire a second person and not pay overtime.

What are the problems with hiring a new server?

I have come up with a few answers:

1.       Despite popular belief, not everyone can wait tables and be successful at it. I make excellent money at it because I’m fairly personable and have a good memory.
2.       Not everyone can be on call to go to work whenever someone quits or doesn’t show up. Usually people working in restaurants do not give a two-week notice or in many cases someone will get angry and quit mid-shift.
3.       Failing the background check or having a bad reputation will result in someone not being hired. I live in an area where everyone knows everyone else. Once someone is labeled as a thief in one restaurant it is nearly impossible to get a job at any of the nearby restaurants.

According to Wikipedia, I fall into the category of underemployed. One of the stipulations for being an underemployed individual is to be overqualified or overeducated for a particular job. I have a degree in biology and could work as a high school teacher but currently I make more money as a server than I would as an entry-level teacher. Does taking a job in which I’m educationally overqualified for but making a higher income still qualify me as underemployed? I don’t feel underemployed…

A person’s attitude toward work is relative to their particular situation. A 30hr workweek would work well for me because I spend so little money and I also place a high value on my personal time. Recently I had a conversation with a woman who works for a large retail corporation and is only allowed to work 28hrs per week. She is paid minimum wage and often has to fight for what she considers meager hours. She doesn’t even like her job and complains about it quite often. I pay attention to what people say to me and came to discover she and her husband frequent a high-class restaurant on a weekly basis. I know the restaurant fairly well and have eaten there a few times so I’m aware of the prices. She was telling me how great the meals are and I agreed because the food is excellent. Judging by the food she was bragging about, I figured she spent about $70 per week just eating and drinking at that one restaurant. The restaurant is an hour away which would cost an additional $10 just in gas. Minimum wage is only $7.25/hr and a large chunk of that is taken away for taxes which may mean she is only making approximately $6.00/hr in take-home pay. At that low rate of pay, a nice weekly dinner of approximately $80 will really cost her 13.333hrs of her working time. In her situation she is not making nearly enough money because she spends too much time working for the luxury of hiring someone to prepare her food. I can fully understand why she complains about not working enough hours because she isn’t making enough money to meet her standard of living.


That being said, it would be very difficult for me to only earn minimum wage. I would have to work more hours to make up the gap in what I consider to financially meet my “needs.” I put needs in quotations because all we really need as humans is food, shelter and clothing (sometimes optional). I can almost guarantee that if I started wandering around in public naked, someone would quickly find some clothes for me to wear and then I would be taken to a shelter where I would be given food. My basic needs would quickly be met by others within a few minutes. Mainly what we say are needs should really be classified as modern luxuries and wants.    

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