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Mucho Trabajo, Poco Dinero

If you don't speak Spanish, that means "Lots of work, little money." A close English equivalent might be, "Another day, another dollar." Usually in response to, "?Que honda, huey?" [pronounced kay OHN-dah, way?] or "What's going on, dude?"

But within that seemingly mundane phrase is a crushing reality. These guys (no women in this kitchen) do work hard, and for very little money. Many of them work a breakfast and lunch shift before coming to do a dinner shift. So that's getting up around 5:30am to work the first job from 6:30am 2pm, then the second job from 2:3Opm to 10:30pm or 11pm. Most of these guys get paid somewhere around $7 per hour. (They're quite open about talking about what they make, which is a little uncomfortable for me.) I have no idea what their tax situation is. But they do live in and pay rent in Los Angeles.

In my previous job as a computer guy in a big company, I made substantially more money. I could dust off my economics degree and discuss why certain professions have historically been paid less, and why they are likely to remain low wage, blahblahblah. This is not an "Oh, poor me" entry - I'm in this to learn and for the experience, so my situation is a bit different. I'm getting a lot out of this. But for the workaday cooks, the rewards are modest.

Just for fun, let's just appreciate those numbers. There are about 2,000 work hours in a standard work year. So $7 per hour times 2,000 hours in a year means...$14,000 per year for one job. Most guys do a second job for only (!!!) 3 or 4 days a week, so the second job adds about $11,000 per year, or approximately $25,000 combined.

Mucho trabajo, poco dinero.

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