I work as a busboy at a restaurant in Ithaca. I make $9/hr and tips bring my wage up to $10/hourly. I work thirty hours a week.
I take care of my one year old son. I can’t work more because I need to be around to care for my son. I can’t afford childcare.
I live in a room that’s about six feet by six feet. I don’t have enough space so there are always things on the floor, even though I keep the place clean. I have to watch my son very carefully because you can’t make such a small space child-proof. I sleep on a cot. My back hurts and I’m aware of it degenerating.
I get limited assistance from the government. I’m not sure if benefits have helped me or hurt me in the long run. The thing with benefits is that when you make more income, you get less government help. And there is a gap between government benefits and self-support. When I started working in a restaurant, my disability benefits were halved and my rent doubled.
I’m working towards earning my GED and starting a career, but for now my income is insufficient for me to live. Living on extremely low-wages is really, really hard. I think that people who make a little more than I do are still in the same boat—you work and you end up behind on your bills, or you pay your bills and you end up with nothing.
If I were paid a living wage, that additional money would go to childcare and solving problems that I have now with transportation. My son’s mother and I are working on our relationship–it would be nice if I could buy to coffee or take her to see a movie sometimes.