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nfam
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Registered: ‎01-08-2007
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

Benji is a very interesting character. In one respect he looks on at life rather than participates. I think he is scornful of the people who frequent the ice cream parlor, but he also realizes that he wouldn't be able to interact with them even if he were not a low paid employee. I don't think Benji's race is as much at issue here as his age and his personality. Benji is an observer of life rather than an actor. He can safely afford to be scornful.
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detailmuse
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Registered: ‎01-24-2008
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would


nfam wrote:
Benji is a very interesting character. In one respect he looks on at life rather than participates. I think he is scornful of the people who frequent the ice cream parlor, but he also realizes that he wouldn't be able to interact with them even if he were not a low paid employee. I don't think Benji's race is as much at issue here as his age and his personality. Benji is an observer of life rather than an actor. He can safely afford to be scornful.

 

I agree that he's scornful. It's personality, but it may also be race and class. It may be a built-up, mis-directed anger at feeling an outsider, or anger at whatever is going on in his family and his parents' marriage. All those customers were groups of friends, or families, and he didn't really have either. I wondered if he left the freezer doors open to punish the customers (there wouldn't be ice cream for at least a day or two) more so than to punish Martine? And he did it with full knowledge that NP would be blamed.
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kiakar
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

Yes, JAmber. When I read that about Waffles, it came to mine a long time ago when we had frozen yoyurt shops like ice cream shops. Some people might still have them but they went out around here. But they were quite tasty when they first arrived. Now, I just order ice cream. :smileyhappy:

 

 

 

 


JAmber wrote:

I enjoyed Benji's descriptions, I volunteered at the Salvation Army when I was a teen and the homeless people were anything but kind.

 

Since the electricity is out and they have jobs in different places, Benji and Reggie are spending less time at home with eachother. And when they are with the group, Reggie hangs with Randy.

 

Benji doesn't participate in the Martine incident, which makes me think he is kind of growing up. Plus he is preoccupied with Meg, the girl no one else is interested in.

 

I would've stayed out of "it." That is not a good question to ask anyone, especially over a pat on the head. And in the end they find out the truth, with out having to ask.

 

The first waffle cone I remember had frozen yogurt in it, yum!


 

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kiakar
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

Yes, when I read this part it reminded me so much of my four kids growing up. Its not my turn! oh! that use to irritate me. :smileyindifferent:

 

 


LisaMM80 wrote:
The 'taco pot incident' and the whole Even Steven thing is the kind of stuff that went on growing up in my house with my sister.  There was no fighting about who would do what, it was just an announcement- it's not my turn, that's not my pot, etc.  Loved that part.

 

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tamfish1
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

Who could forget their first job?  The loss of freedom, the feeling that I was doing something grown up, working with grown ups.  I worked at a grocery store in the bakery

department, so I got all the free bakery goods I wanted.  They, the grocery store, knew what to do.  Once anyone gets all they want of something, don't really want it, or at least I didn't.

I can't even begin to imagine leaving my super grown up daughter alone on her own at the age of 15.  What kind of parents do that?  Am I alone on this?  I could trust her totally, but I would have worried myself to death.

Oh well, that's just me.

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lmpmn
Posts: 177
Registered: ‎11-08-2006

Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

Through this chapter I can't help but feel a bit bad for these 2 brothers.  Even though they're teens and can basically care for themselves, the electricity is out and they have to call their mom to take care of it.  It made me feel like they're almost forgotten about, an afterthought to their parents.  Maybe it's because I'm a mom.

 

I really liked how there was a strong commitment to hard work among these teens.  These days most kids are catered to and spoiled.  Especially since these guys didn't have anyone to make them get out of bed in the morning and go--during the summertime while on vacation!  My mom used to have to drag me out of bed to get me to school.  I don't think I would've been a good employee if I was left in an empty house during the summer!

Happiness is a warm blanket!
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Re76
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

[ Edited ]

I loved this chapter...the way the author was able to describe even the smallest detail of making the waffle cone. "...being careful not to pick off the soft stuff on your arm...but sometimes what appearred to be batter was actually your melted skin...and what you were peeling off was a bit of yourself." (page 72) I can't help to wonder was he just referencing making of a cone, or was it something deeper.

 

Min. wage job...first job other than babysitting for 50 cents an hour for 7 children all day, was picking pickles. Every summer in the early morning hours we would bike to the fields and pick small cucumbers that would later be sold for pickles. If you didn't get up early, you had to pick in the full sun and heat. You were paid by the pound, and by the size. Can't say, that I ever ate those cukes...too bitter. Later, once I turned 16 and was able to get a workers permit, a truck stop as a waitress. No food benefits were included, and not many truckers. Went back to babysitting and made more money, espically if you were willing to do some cleaning and cooking at their home. Found out early, if you worked hard and put in extra effort, you were usually rewarded.

 

 

Message Edited by Re76 on 02-24-2009 08:27 PM
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Re76
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would


kiakar wrote:

Yes, when I read this part it reminded me so much of my four kids growing up. Its not my turn! oh! that use to irritate me. :smileyindifferent:

 

 


LisaMM80 wrote:
The 'taco pot incident' and the whole Even Steven thing is the kind of stuff that went on growing up in my house with my sister.  There was no fighting about who would do what, it was just an announcement- it's not my turn, that's not my pot, etc.  Loved that part.

The taco pot incident was great. I loved the description of the two teens discussing the situation and then  "....pressed the lid as if leaning against the rattly gates of Hell." priceless.  Growing up a large family, I think you learn to perfect the "its not my turn" routine. Having a smaller family my children weren't able to perfect "its not my turn" rountine as well as my brothers and sister managed to do it to my parents.


 

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mshukers
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

I can't help wondering what is going on with the folks. First they aren't coming up for weekends then the kids use up their food account so they have to find jobs and then the electricity gets shut off. Ben seems confused but its no wonder when his Dad seems confused about his life style. I think at this age no matter what job he had to take he wouldn't be happy because he is use to playing all summer with not much responsibility.
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Jennd1
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

I think working for the first time gives benji a sense of responsibity and a different view of his world and his place in it. It changes his relationship with everyone including his brother, but  I don't think those changes are earth shattering, they are just the start of the fissures that will come between the brothers as they become their own people.  I think describing the patrons that way is Benji's way of blowing off steam and dealing with the drugery that comes with a first job.  Sorry if I posted multiple answers to this question my laptop is acting a bit flakey at the moment.
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Readingrat
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

I didn't really think the descriptions of the Jonni Waffle patrons as scornful at the time, just as observant I think.  Anyway Benji leaving the freezer doors open really surprised me.  It just seemed a little too malicious for Benji.  On the other hand if he was to do something to take revenge on Martine, the Jonni Waffle customers, or NP I can see him doing something that no one could pin on him more than an in-your-face confrontation.
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jabrkeKB
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

I don't think Benji's descriptions are scornful. I see it as a way to pass the time. He has to work when he would rather be "hanging out" .

 

My first job was working in the kitchen of a nursing home. I never saw any of the patients, just their name tags on the food trays. Watching the food trays go out and seeing the condition of them on the way back in gave us fodder for our own "scornful" descriptions of the patients, but we were teenagers,what did we know.

 

I do think Benji grows up from this experience. He knows he needs this job to earn money.

 

I think Benji wasn't sure how to interpret the Martine incident and he also did'nt want to jeopardize his job.  Leaving the freezer door open was his way of getting back at Martine.

 

I don't remember the first time I heard of a waffle cone, but I do like them.

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canterbear
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

I do remember the first time I saw a waffle cone.

I could not believe the size of it.

I have never eaten one though.

 

I was wondering does every teenager reach some point where they feel the need for change, breaking away from their old life? 
I went through this  change in junior high the first time and then 12 grade the 2nd time . Wanting to be more independent.

 

Benji seemed to need the break more from his brother then from his family.

The mother and father seems to have backed away from the boys at this age.

I wondered how close they were before this summer.

 

 

 

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barrycaseyii
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

I never had a minimum wage job, but have many friends who have been, or are servers.  Ben's (he wishes to be called Ben...who am I to argue?) descriptions of the people he serves are fairly scornful.  I have found that most servers feel the same way. 

 

I have noticed that Reggie is mentioned less and less as the book progresses.  This just confirms Ben's insistence that they are ex-twins.  They seem to be growing apart, and thei jobs make spending time together tough (as they have differing schedules).

 

My first waffle cone was AMAZING!  Had I known the dermatological effects of making those sweet confections, I may have felt otherwise :smileyhappy:

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Jennmarie68
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would


rkubie wrote:

Is Benji's humorous description of the patrons scornful? Do you remember a youthful minimum-wage job, and how you felt about it? 

 

Does Benji grow further away from Reggie at this time?

 

 


First, I don't think Benji's descriptions of the patrons is scornful. I remember my first job, and every one since then for that matter, and I always to to get a read on the customers and people that I dealt with. I think Benji's descriptions are simply his minds interpretations of these customers and they are going to form his impressions of people for the rest of his life. 

 

Second, Benji mentions that he rarely sees Reggie anymore being that their schedules are different. However, given that Benji is trying to reinvent himself that this growing apart may have happened naturally even without the boys having different jobs and schedules.

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Eleanor Roosevelt
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Jennmarie68
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

This is also one of the scenes that stuck out for me too. I have two sisters and my parents thought it was a good idea to let us decide who did what chore. So it's not my turn could be heard almost every second of the day.

 

On the other hand you got it last time was usually heard if we were going somewhere in the car. Because "shotgun" only worked for so long. One person would call shotgun and then if they had already had the front seat in one of the last few trips my parents would say something like you rode in the front last time let your sister's have a chance. Although, my youngest sister always forgot to yell shotgun, so when she did call it we always gave it to her (without a fight) simply because she remembered.

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Eleanor Roosevelt
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fordmg
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would


thewanderingjew wrote:
rkubie wrote: 

Does Benji grow further away from Reggie at this time?

You know, I thought that it was Reggie who grew further away from Benji. It was Reggie who seemed to do things first. It was Reggie who set out and got the job first. It was Reggie who forged a separate friendship within the group which was separate and apart from Benji. It was Reggie who kept secrets from Benji about his singing and shooting. Benji was often surprised that although he thought they discussed everything together, there were parts of Reggie's life he knew nothing about.
twj

Great observations.  It isn't always that the first born does everything first.  I think Benji was always more mature that Reggie.  Reggie might have been more of a rebel, or craved his independence from the older sibling.  If Benji was more responsible, Reggie most likely wasn't ready for this.

MG

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fordmg
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would


rkubie wrote:

 

Is Benji's humorous description of the patrons scornful? Do you remember a youthful minimum-wage job, and how you felt about it? 

 

I don't feel that Benji's description was scornful.  Sounds typical teen attitude to me.  I actually think Benji is a lot more responsible than some teen workers I see today.

 

Does Benji grow further away from Reggie at this time?

 

The two brothers are starting to grow appart.  I think this is part of the growing up process.  They are defining the individualisms.   They still get along, but their jobs become their center now.

 

Do you see Benji "growing up" from the experience of working? Do his relationships with his friends change?

 

Yes - See above

 

How did you feel about Benji's staying-out-of-it-attitude to the Martine "incident?"

 

What could Benji actually do.  As a teen employee, he really doesn't have any leverage.  Part of the problem is his friends.  I think they are the ones who made it an issue.  Without their observations, it would be nothing.

 

 

 


 

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detailmuse
Posts: 180
Registered: ‎01-24-2008

Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would

[ Edited ]

I love stories set in workplaces, so really enjoyed this chapter. Reminded me of my days at McDonald’s at age 16 -- I stood safely behind the counter, just like Benji, looking out at the mob of customers waiting … and hated it! I quit after two weeks; I don't think Benji has that option. I won’t look indifferently at an ice-cream shop or its waffle-maker again … it’s similar to how I felt after reading Stewart O’Nan’s Last Night at the Lobster.

 

I like Coke (Classic!) and laughed that Whitehead still wants to spank the CEO at the time of New Coke by naming him!!

 

It struck me that Benji and his friends were hesitant to go to parties in unfamiliar neighborhoods where they “didn’t know where the exits were in case something racial went down.” Change the racial to sexual and I think women have some understanding of that -- keeping themselves safe, an awareness of their environment.

Message Edited by detailmuse on 02-26-2009 01:23 PM
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Tarri
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Re: If I Could Pay You Less, I Would


rkubie wrote:

Benji begins a new stage of his life when he steps into a minimum wage position behind the counter of  busy, gourmet, beach-side ice-cream parlor.  The shops feeds him breakfast, lunch and dinner when he's there, and he comes to be a bit of an expert waffle-maker when the tourist busses roll in.  The job also leaves him with a lifelong aversion to sweets.


 


 I'm 55, is it too late to get a job at an ice-cream parlor?  I could do with a lifelong aversion to sweets.  

 

 

"Is Benji's humorous description of the patrons scornful? Do you remember a youthful minimum-wage job, and how you felt about it?"

 

Starting when I was younger than Benji, I picked strawberries for about 50 cents a flat and can still remember how much I didn't care about the growers, field bosses, and people who might buy the strawberries.  For me it was something that was done in the summer to earn money for new clothes and bikes, etc.  Really though, it was something I did so my parents could teach me to be responsible.

When I was reading the chapter I wondered if perhaps the reason the parents weren't right there with food money is that they were trying to teach Benji and Reggie that money (food, electricity) had to be earned.