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Minimum Wage Trap - You CAN Earn More Money.

Updated on January 24, 2016
Poverty makes you feel helpless - but you are not helpless!
Poverty makes you feel helpless - but you are not helpless!

Some Personal Perspective

I grew up in poverty and I managed to pull myself up and out of poverty. My parents were decent and loving people who wanted a better life for their children. My father drove the city garbage truck for a small Burrough in Pennsylvania, my mother stayed home and raised three children and ran the household. We managed just fine on my fathers salary until a serious back injury and five subsequent surgeries ended his working life completely. We ended up on welfare when I was 9 years old and life became very different. Forced to move into "the projects" at age 10 meant sharing a small bedroom with my two younger brothers.

My parents always reminded us that we were very fortunate and still had so much more than the poor starving people in whatever third world country was in the news at that time. Mom always told us "you can be anything you want to be when you grow up" and Dad always reminded us of how much we were loved and that we were "the best kids ever." Thankfully I bought what they were selling.

The Early Working Years

My first job was as a janitors assistant during the summer months at the high school I attended. The job was a "gift" to poor students whose parents were on welfare. I arrived at 6:00 am five days a week and worked 8 long hours in the hot humid classrooms cleaning gum off desks and stripping 9 months of wax build up off the floors. The pay at the time was $2.78/hour. I was positive I would not grow up to be a janitor - it was not my thing.

I spent the next several years working in a gas station pumping gas and heating up pre-made sandwiches for the tourists passing through town. In the summer months it was nonstop running from car to car filling tanks and running back inside to ring up candy and pop in between. Pay was minimum wage and there were no benefits offered. Again - not my thing.

Eventually I got married - to the mechanic from the gas station I worked at, and had a couple of kids of my own. I was 25 years old and working as a waitress in a truck stop in the middle of Wyoming. This was the toughest job yet. On my feet every moment, carrying heavy trays full of food that sometimes seemed to weigh more than I did. Truck drivers can give a young lady more attention than she wants too - I was constantly reminding the same jerks over and over that my back side was not to be touched by anyone but my husband. I would go home dog tired and frustrated - then have to hand over most of my tips for the day to the babysitter. I knew I didn't want to spend my whole life in this vicious circle of living paycheck to paycheck. Feeling 20 years older than I should from the stress of worrying about the washing machine dying or the car breaking down didn't help either.




College Here I Come:

I knew I had to improve my situation, nobody else could do it for me and I owed my children a better life. I decided I wanted to become a nurse. I went to the local Community College and found out that there was a a 2 year wait to get into the Registered Nurse (RN) program. I got a bit discouraged but the College counselor reassured me that I could get started on the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certification right away. I spent the next 9 months working part time and going to school to become an LPN.

My first job as an LPN paid 3 times more than my hourly wage as a waitress, it was very well worth the 9 months of classes. Two years later I finished the RN program with honors and moved my family firmly into middle class. I worked as an RN for 10 years when I decided to go back to school to get my Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) so I could pursue more of the nursing leadership role. I am now a Nurse Manager for a large multi specialty medical facility.



Summary:

The point of sharing my story was to possibly help someone else make the leap from poverty to a good paying career. I did it in baby steps, maybe you prefer a different path. Most larger cities have Community Colleges that offer a variety of career opportunities to help you enhance your life. They offer grants and loans to defray the expense and they have tutors for those who need a little extra time and assistance. If college is not the way for you - there are plenty of other options. Start a small business and grow it to success. Use your God given talents to sell your wares, can you sew, fix things, write, make something you can sell to others i.e. art or specialty foods. The possibilities are endless.You can make a better life for yourself - get started today!

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    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      It was really good to read your success story of returning to education as an adult - well done for taking the first steps, not giving up and seeing your efforts rewarded.

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 5 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Thank you Nettlemere! I am so hoping I can inspire others to do the same and change their life as well.

    • American View profile image

      American View 5 years ago from Plano, Texas

      CL,

      A great story that you shared with all of us. Just goes to show what a little work and ambition will do instead of waiting for entitlements. You and you family should be very proud of you. Up and awesome

    • Tams R profile image

      Tams R 5 years ago from Missouri

      Inspiring story of success. I am proud of you and hope to do the same in the near future.

      Thankfully, most of my children are grown so I won't have to worry so much about that part.

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 5 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Thank you AV - My whole goal was to show that we all have choices - sit around and take a handout, work yourself to the bone and get nowhere, or take it upon yourself to better your own fate and not be a burden to others. Thank you again for the kind words!

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 5 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Good for you - I am sure you will do it! Take care and never give up on your future successes.

    • dzephaniah profile image

      David Zephaniah 5 years ago from Florida

      Thank you for sharing your story. It is an example for many people out there. My parents were very proud people and they also raised me that way.

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 5 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Thank you for the kind words dzephaniah. I am hoping to inspire at least one person to reach higher. I appreciate the positive responses.

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      Interesting hub which gives an example of a person who fights, works and achieves results! Voted up

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Thank you Pavlo, I am so glad you read my Hub. Thank you for the up Vote too!!!

    • Mitch Alan profile image

      Mitch Alan 4 years ago from South Jersey

      But, remember... that life that you created from your hard work and sacrifice... You didn't build that! It was all Obama.

      Haha. Just Kidding. Nice Hub and a good reminder that an individual can change then own future.

    • Conservative Lady profile image
      Author

      Sheila 4 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      Thank you Mitch - I thank Obama everyday for all he has done for me - NOT ;-)

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