BARTLETT, Tenn. - A few months ago on a Sunday after church, I stopped into a local fast food restaurant for lunch. It was well after the noon rush and there was only one woman working the counter and one cook in the back. The woman waiting on me appeared to be in her late 50s or 60s, and looked very tired. As I was placing my order, an older gentleman who had been in the dining area began heading toward the exit. The woman behind the counter shouted at him and ran around the counter, grabbed him and ushered him back to his seat. She returned to the counter, apologized and began taking my order again. Once again she had to stop before I was finished and lead the older man back to his seat.
When she returned, she explained with tears in her eyes that the man was her father and he had advanced Alzheimer's. I told her I understood what she was going through because my mother had died with the disease three years earlier. The woman told me, "Back when I had a full-time, Monday through Friday, job I took him to an Alzheimer's day care on weekdays, but the day care is not open on weekends." She went on to say that she was working a part-time split-shift job now at a local dry cleaner and working weekends at the restaurant, both minimum-wage jobs.
She told me her manager was not working that day, but she was pretty sure when her boss found out she was bringing her dad to work with her, she would lose this job too.
Our local congresswoman, Marsha Blackburn, is a tea party Republican who voted against health care reform and was opposed to extending unemployment benefits. If anyone in her family was stricken with a catastrophic disease, she would certainly be able to adequately provide for their needs ... with the nice salary, health benefits and perks provided to her through the taxes on low-wage earners like the people in her district working multiple minimum-wage jobs trying to make ends meet.
Photo: Nuevo Anden CC 2.0