I was talking with my son the other day about the upcoming summer and job possibilities, and we got on the subject of minimum wage. Which is about, what, $7.25 these days?
Yeah, I can hear all the pissing and moaning from here about “kids these days” and how “Minimum wage is pretty good money” and ” You think you got it hard on $7.25 an hour?? When I was making minimum wage … ” You know, back in them good ol’ days when ‘Murica was full of hard-working ‘Muricans who pulled themselves up by their boot straps and made something of their lives and didn’t ask nobody for nothing.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Stow it, gramps.
You’d think I’d done the parently thing and said the above or “when I started working I was making minimum wage, and I was happy to get it!” But I didn’t. Because that’s a big fat lie. I never liked earning minimum wage. And that’s when I told him that when I first started working at the age of 14, minimum wage hovered around $2.00.
I looked up, just to be sure. In 1976, it was $2.30. Now, for all you harumphers out there who think we were all damn happy and considered ourselves fortunate to “have a job any job,” let’s take a look at that. Yeah, I know, things were cheaper back then.
For example, a gallon of gas cost you 59 cents. So, your $2.30 bought you a little less than 4 gallons of gas. Of course it took all four gallons to drive to work and back in that bigass Mercury, but that’s beside the point. A dozen eggs set you back 84 cents, so you could get a couple dozen with your minimum wage. Movies were about $2. A Coke, 15 cents, bag of Golden Flake potato chips, a dime. So you could go to the show with your $2.30. Barely. A 45 record at the Woolco was 99 cents. So you could get two gallons of gas and a 45, then coast home and listen to them on your record player — without a Coke and chips.
Hell yeah, that’s good living, ain’t it? I remember not ever having a full tank because I couldn’t afford it. Hell, I remember I couldn’t afford anything on minimum wage. Mostly I remember minimum wage sucked.
But what about now? With this “luxurious” minimum wage? Today’s minimum wage buys you about 2 gallons of gas. Even in that Hyundai, that’s not much. You can buy more eggs, though, at about $1.80 a dozen. Movie? Forget it, unless you work another hour. And if you want that Coke and chips, add another hour if you buy it at the concession stand. Otherwise, that Coke will cost you $1.25 in the vending machine. The machine next to it will demand another dollar for the chips. Yep, from 25 cents for both to $2.25. But you can still get a single song for 99 cents. So, you can get a gallon of gas, a Coke and chips, then coast home and download one song to listen to.
Yeah, kids today don’t know how easy they got it, right?