My Husband’s Shame (why it’s unfair)

My husband was raised by a traditional family. Not traditional like mine where there was a franticly planned wedding to coincide with a couple of missed periods. But a real live honest to goodness traditional family. Like TV level traditional. Think Cleaver level traditional. He grew up in eastern Kentucky, and his dad did have a job that related to the mines and/or coal or some other scraps of earth. But the job was in an office and not in a mine.

My husband wasn’t born until years after his parents were married. His dad worked upwards of 80 hours a week and his mom stayed home. His dad worked for the same company for decades and provided a decent life for his family. Decent enough that my husband was one of those kids who got a car when he turned 16. He saw his dad work hard and provide for his family. His dad didn’t have a formal education, he earned his position based on his skills.

Now it’s my husband’s turn to be a husband and he feels like a failure. He wants to be able to provide for his family and can’t. He makes what most consider to be good money, but we can’t make ends meet. He feels ashamed because of this. His father was able to do it on a lower hourly wage and he can’t.

So he decided to listen to everyone else and go back to school. He has a degree now and nothing to show for it…except a student loan that we can’t pay off. He keeps following the rules in this system and just keeps failing. He hates himself for it. I know that he thinks that our failing is his fault.

But it’s not. He’s part of an already unfair system that is working against him. He gets angry with me about my living wage crusade because he says that if a “burger flipper” makes $10-15 an hour then his wage won’t mean shit. But he still doesn’t realize that because those workers are being paid so little he can still be paid double that and not make ends meet.

For the thousandth time:


Like I said, his dad was able to find a position within a company that he liked and was good at and stay there. My husband won’t be able to. They will want him to move up even if he enjoys his current position, even if he does it well. He isn’t looking forward to that.

And the really bad news is that even after all of his father’s loyalty to the company he worked for, it didn’t matter.

You see, his father had a heart attack a few years ago. He had rarely missed a day of work in his life…except for the time when he had his first heart attack. He was loyal to his company to a fault. He believed that this would mean that he could retire and reap the benefits of a pension and all that neat stuff you get when you retire from a company you have been loyal to for that long.

Only that’s not what happened. My father in law was “let go” from his company while he was taking a few vacation days…to have a double bypass.

The company he had devoted his life to simply left him a voicemail while he was laying on a table with his chest cracked open.

That was what his loyalty had earned him.

And now he feels more ashamed than my husband because he was fired instead of retiring.

Neither of them should feel ashamed. They work hard, they do the best they can and better. They didn’t fail. They aren’t failing.

But that’s how they feel.

Every time my husband has to count pennies or flat say no when one of his kids asks for something as simple as a new shirt he feels ashamed.

Every time we can’t have a cheap pizza for dinner because we can’t afford it, he feels ashamed.

He works 60 or more hours a week and we still can’t get by so he feels ashamed.

But, again, we make more than minimum wage. We don’t have any right to complain. Right?

He makes double minimum wage after all.

Except that his job puts him in harm’s way constantly. Every time he goes into a house he has no idea what to expect. Every time he climbs a ladder or a pole to get to a line that’s just under a power line. Every time he has a confrontation with someone who is convinced that he can be threatened into giving them something for free. He risks his life every day and still can’t make ends meet.

But hey, he makes about what a cop would so that’s fair right? Only it’s not. No one who puts themselves in harm’s way should have to suffer for it. Be they cops, firefighter, soldier, or even a lowly phone installer. No one should have to scrape by for that.

I worry about him constantly. He meets people in their own homes. Not that bad right? Except that you never know who the person is or what they are really like. He has seen drug deals happen right in front of him. He has been in homes of people so mentally unstable that it was frightening. He doesn’t even tell me about the homes he has to go into anymore because he doesn’t want me to worry. He has friends who work in the same profession, for other companies, who have been robbed at gunpoint.

He once told me a story of one of the guys he worked with being trapped inside his van with a group of people rocking it trying to turn it over. He couldn’t drive away because some of them were holding children hoping he would hit them and they could make money off of it.

Another friend of his was trapped in a house with someone who was mentally unstable and violent.

It isn’t right that these guys, or anyone else like them, is doing this job for so little pay.

And that’s nothing really. We just had a friend who was given a raise and promotion in the Army…he now still makes less than my husband.

Can you believe that shit? A man who is willing to lay down his life for his country makes less than a phone installer!

But hey, they get to say they make double min wage right? So they shouldn’t feel ashamed. They should be happy and just work harder. Right?


About pynomrah

I like stuff, and things.
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10 Responses to My Husband’s Shame (why it’s unfair)

  1. Henshaw says:

    If a pay someone $7.50 to bag groceries and someone $8.50 to check out groceries what do you think will happen if the state passes a law that every job has to pay at least $15?

    Small companies will be hurt by the law may be forced out of business. Big companies like Home Depot will eliminate those positions and invest in self checkout. This is just an easy example. This would play out throughout the market.

    Wage controls are just as bad as other price controls.


    • pynomrah says:

      You’re right. No one should be able to have the simple dignity of being able to work for a wage that means they can survive. No one should spend half of their waking time at work and expect to be able to do such ludicrous and frivolous things as pay their rent. I was wrong to ever think otherwise Thank you so much for showing me the error of my ways. Hey, the 1930’s called, they want their Anti-New-Deal propaganda back.


      • Henshaw says:

        Thanks for your reply, but aren’t you just dismissing the economic reality here?

        We all want unskilled workers to make more money, but what sense does it make if those workers can’t find jobs due to your desired policy?

        This isn’t a theory. There’s nearly a century worth of examples of how wage controls hurt those workers.


      • pynomrah says:

        The same argument against treating workers fairly was used in the 1930’s against the Fair Labor Standards Act. Which was passed right before we ended up in a rather prosperous economic time. Yes, if a higher minimum wage is passed there will be a slight rise in prices, and some people will lose jobs in favor of machines that are cheaper. The same thing already happened the last time something like this actually happened.

        But, take the original Ford business model….pay the workers who build the product enough and they will buy the product after they build it and everybody wins. WalMart used to follow the same business model. Costco still does. Paying your workforce enough to purchase the products you manufacture and you will make money off of grateful workers. As I have stated repeatedly in this silly little blog, devaluing the wages of these workers also devalues the wages of the ones who make more. Like I said in the above blog, we make double minimum wage but still can’t make ends meet. It’s not right that I get judged for not making enough,but a billion dollar CEO isn’t judged for making too much.

        My smaller income is actually putting more into the economy through my everyday purchases than they are through their luxury purchases. If I buy a can of beans, how many people have I kept employed in comparison to the few who get to buy caviar? Which one of us should be given more importance to our everyday economy? My working family, or a fatcat CEO? (Let’s keep in mind that a 4 star general still tops out his pay at less than half a mil annually, so really, what are those CEO’s doing to deserve a 26 million a year salary in comparison?)

        I do understand what you are trying to say. My husband, who is the main driving force behind my blog, is actually AGAINST raising the minimum wage because he feels that it would be a “slap in the face” to workers like him who already make at or above the new proposed minimum wage. But what he, and you, and others, are not realizing is that they are already working for a devalued wage because the minimum wage is still so low. That’s not fair to anyone who works and everyone deserves better than rich people getting richer off the backs of the poor or working class. And being realistic, what you are saying is that a man who makes upwards of 26 million a year can’t be expected to tighten his belt a little, but my family shouldn’t get a living wage because the price of beans will go up.


      • Henshaw says:

        Walmart actually favors the minimum wage. It’s great policy for them to fight competition.

        I’m not sure what you mean by the 1930s. The evidence is in over the last century. It hurts far more people than it helps. 79% of economists agree that it hurts young and unskilled workers. That’s a huge consensus for the field of economics.


      • pynomrah says:

        WalMart is a great example of a bad example. It’s kind of a “company store” cycle. The wages are so low that the employees can only afford to shop at WalMart. Since the wages are so low, communities will settle for shoddy crap that they can afford over higher cost quality crap from local businesses, this means locals can’t survive so they end up having to work for WalMart.

        Part of The New Deal was to regulate a minimum wage to a pay level and work hours that meant workers got to prosper. It was passed in 1938 through a lot of bipartisan opposition. They used the same arguments back then but it turns out that you can’t enumerate dignity and it’s effect on the economy. And lately, ever since the wage movement started picking up more steam, a lot of economists have been changing their tunes. I actually have a few links supporting this in some of my past posts.

        And younger, unskilled, workers would still be hired more quickly than someone like me who has 20 years of retail experience. Believe me, I know that from recent experience. My 16 (now 17) year old daughter and I both applied for a position. She got the call back because I was “overqualified”…which is the PC term for “too old”


      • pynomrah says:

        And thank you for being polite even after I was bitchy.


      • Henshaw says:

        No problem! Economics is called the “dismal science” for a reason. Too many people rush to say “you don’t care about the poor.” No, I just want to see policies that work.


      • pynomrah says:

        For me it’s not just about the poor, it’s about every worker out there. Keep in mind that my family is technically not poor, we’re working class. But I still go hungry more often than not.

        And as far as the wage policies that are picking up steam, they worked before, so it stands to reason that it would work again. Yes, there will be problems and hiccups, but it should work again this time. And unless someone comes up with something else, it’s the best we have right now.


  2. Pingback: Decency? On the Internet? | Somewhere in the Middle of Everything

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