Minimum Wage: The “Friends” Syndrome

So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A.

Yeah, it’s really not that easy.

No really, I blame Friends for this epidemic of people thinking that they should be able to afford anything and everything on their minimum wage and when they can’t, they demand a raise…even if they aren’t doing anything at all to deserve it.

“It’s not FAIR!”

“I need a WORKING WAGE!”

“I can’t do all the things I WANT!”

“I don’t like my job!”

Did you know that pretty much no one likes their job when they are at the bottom of the payscale? I bet you would like it even less if you lost your job or had your hours cut to the bone because your employer couldn’t afford to increase all of his employee’s hourly wages.

Did you know that when I was in elementary school I can’t remember a time I saw someone above the age of 22 working as a cashier or cook at a fast food restaurant or retail store? Yeah, there were some older employees, but most of them were in management or supervisor positions…salaried work or work with significantly higher hourly wages.

They didn’t get those higher wages because they whined to the government to raise their pay, by the way.

They got there through long hours, dedication to a job they probably didn’t really like, and not being a whiny little bitch.

Now I can’t get on the train without seeing someone in their 30s or 40s (probably with a college degree, shows you how much those are worth) riding in to their shift at Jack in the Box or McDonald’s and they definitely aren’t wearing the clothing of a manager or supervisor.

So yeah, I get why you can’t survive on minimum wage in your 30s and 40s. You may have a spouse, kids, a mortgage. You probably couldn’t afford them, but you got them anyway…somehow. Blame the Community Reinvestment Act.

But you weren’t meant to be living on minimum wage at this point in your life. Maybe you were sitting around reading get rich quick books and waiting for opportunity to knock or maybe you just never really looked for career advancement at your job because it wasn’t the job you really wanted.

I’ve been there.  I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve had that I absolutely despised and I didn’t exactly look for career advancement there.

The difference? I’m still in my early 20s and doing my best to find the career I want, working my ass off to do it.

When your still living on minimum wage as an adult, maybe you missed your shot somewhere?

Maybe it’s just this economy.

Mostly I blame the economy, but raising the minimum wage will not fix that!

So where does Friends come into this?

Presumably all of these characters had jobs, but you rarely heard about them. Somehow they all managed to afford upscale apartments in New York City, trips to coffee houses, nice clothes, dating, and all the other accouterments of a classy life in an exorbitantly expensive city.

There were some explanations for this. Rent controlled apartments, one or two of them had fairly decent paying jobs (that they appeared to rarely go to), but overall…they were just very well off 30-somethings, for no reason.

An entire generation grew up thinking they would be able to live that life with little to no work on their part.

It’s no wonder that now they are whiny and mad when they realize their life isn’t going the way they thought it would go. Their job’s a joke, their broke, somehow their love life isn’t D.OA. though…I blame people with no standards.

So everything is the same as Friends, they just aren’t in the fancy apartment with the nice clothes and attractive friends.

And somehow that’s the greedy capitalists fault. Shame on them for paying people on a scale, based on skill, instead of basing their pay on what will make their employee’s life most glamorous.

The world will only be fair when a McDonald’s cashier can afford a summer villa in Spain right?




  1. I agree television shows – like Friends – show a distorted reality. Married with Children is another one that drove me bonkers – he was shoe salesman; his wife was a stay-at-home mother – and they had two kids in a two story house?! If anyone grows up thinking that’s reality – they will be in for a shock.

    But I think most know it’s escapist fiction. I went through my 20s on a diet of Friends and came out okay. Both my husband and I worked hard for our careers which let us live comfortably. Not Friends comfortable – but we have enough after bills for some fun extras.

    Good luck finding the career you want! I’m enjoying your blog. I’m sure you will find what you’re looking for.

    • I think the problem is that while some of us grew up with our heads stuck on straight and knowing what reality is, a lot of people grew up allowing their subconscious to believe they would still get that life…even if they consciously knew the show had a ridiculous premise.

  2. Hmmm, I have some mixed feelings about Friends…you don’t really see them at work, I guess, because it’s simply not interesting for the audience. Just like how in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or any other show about high school teenagers they rarely show them in class. The target demographic goes to school all day; the last thing they want to see when they come home and turn on the TV is what they just got away from! I think Friends is the same concept. Actually, once in the series, the poorer of the three (I don’t know how well you know the series, but it was Joey, Phoebe and Rachel) were getting annoyed that their better-off friends were always wanting to go off to eat at expensive restaurants and do other expensive things, with no consideration for their friends that don’t make as much money.

    • I admit there was an episode or two of Friends where that sort of stuff was mentioned, but considering how long the show went on and how outrageously they portrayed the reality of these people’s lives over most other episodes…well you see my problem.
      It’s not that I really blame Friends, per se, I blame stupid people who think that TV represents reality.

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