I just finished watching the first episode of a show called 30 Days.
Have any of you ever watched this?
It’s a reality show created by Morgan Spurlock (you know, the guy that did Super Size Me). But 30 Days is a project he started in order to really step into someone else’s shoes, usually someone who’s drastically different than he is.
In the first episode, he spends 30 days living the life of a minimum wage worker in order to see how they’re able to survive.
Spurlock and his fiancee start the project with only one week’s wages in cash, no car, and zero furniture or credit cards. They have to get an apartment they can afford (which ends up being on the bad side of Columbus, OH at $350/mos.), and then have to go find minimum wage jobs.
The experience is incredibly eye opening, and watching it is no different. They’re barely squeaking by when both of them have to go to the emergency room for different reasons. After that, they’re over $1,200 in the hole for the month, with no hope of paying it back anytime soon on their income.
This post isn’t really about this episode (which I wish everyone could watch…if you have Netflix you can look it up and watch it streaming online-the episode is on Season 1, first episode, “Minimum Wage”). The post is really about how this struggle is going on every day and many of us, including myself, don’t even really see it. We read about it, sure, but see it first hand? Mostly not.
These are the waiters and waitresses that bring us our breakfast at the local Coney. These are the people mowing our grass, and taking out our recycling, and sweeping the streets every night. How often do we reach out our hands to help out the people around us?
The show was sobering to watch because it made me realize how very little I was doing to help solve this problem. I give monthly to several charities, and I spend a good deal of time trying to figure out how to live a little lighter on the Earth. But in terms of actually helping people, I don’t do anything at all. Writing a check is not the same thing as helping cook food at a soup kitchen, or volunteering at a furniture bank for those who can’t afford the basic necessities like towels or a kitchen table. It’s not the same at all.
It also brought my spending in complete perspective in a way that it’s never been before. For instance, I bought a ring off Etsy a few weeks ago. The ring was $55.
That’s what a minimum wage worker makes for an entire day’s labor.
It’s Up To Us…
Watching how hard day to day life is for minimum wage workers was difficult and very sobering. But I’m extremely glad I watched it, because it’s made me want to get more involved to help solve the problem.
After thinking about it last night, I realize I could be helping people learn to read so they could get a better job. Andrew could be teaching people computer skills. These are skills that we take for granted…and they could be helping someone else get out of poverty. So, that’s what we’re going to do, probably through the Salvation Army.
Have any of you ever watched this show? If so, what do you think?
I’d also love to hear other ideas for getting involved on a personal level. If you volunteer, what do you do?