Monday, September 25, 2006
At about 8:40 this morning, I went to Staples on Gallivan Boulevard in Dorchester. As soon as I walked in, they had smiling people standing by the doors handing out the vouchers for $7.50. There were a fair number of people shopping, but I didn't have to wait in line and there was no chaos or excitement. I'm not sure how many people are usually there at this time of day, because I usually shop in the evening or on a weekend morning.
The last time I went to Staples, it was around 8:00 on a Saturday night. I figured I'd be one of very few people there. I was wrong. It was packed with parents and their very energetic children zooming around the store buying all kinds of school supplies.
I didn't even know about the lawsuit and settlement until reading about it online yesterday. Usually when I receive something as a result of a class action settlement, I have to wait years for it and then often I end up not even using it. This was nice, because it was unexpected and $7.50 can still buy a few things that are needed.
Since I went from being a salaried employee to doing contract work, I think about my hourly rate. Is it straight time or overtime? How long do I have to work to buy something? I think about this. Are those shoes really worth two overtime hours? Sometimes my free time is worth more than the money. You only get so many sunny days at the beach.
The current federal minimum wage is $5.15 per hour. There are people out there working really hard, doing all kinds of very unpleasant work trying to support their families and not actually even making $5.15 an hour, because taxes are being taken out first. They have to work over an hour to make $7.50.
So if people think I am nuts for being excited over $7.50, well maybe this adds a little something to broaden your perspective. The federal minimum wage has been the same since September 1997. How long do you have to work to earn $7.50? What does an hour of your time mean to you?
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