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There’s a new trend appearing during job interviews; apparently the question of proper wage has fallen onto the applicant and with dire consequences.

For the past month, I’ve been interviewing for jobs and it’s for this reason I find myself sitting in front of my prospective employer, the G.M. of a known hotel. Time’s almost up and I have one more question to ask.

After politely sitting and cataloging the lengthy bullet points of the position, I inquire upon the wage earned and am met with a terrifying response:

“What do you think it should pay?” He steeples his fingers below his nose and waits.

My stomach drops and my heart thuds.

The correct answer is: Minimum wage. But I can’t speak yet, my brain and mouth are currently at war; it’s amazing I’m still breathing.

I mentally review decades of work experience, overtime and sacrifice. I know if entrusted to do so, I could run this office alone and successfully. In over two decades I have done every job you can do in an office; none of my skills are entry level.

But none of this matters. I open my mouth and he poises his pen over his writing pad; I envision he’s readying himself to blot out my name.

“Twelve-fifty.”

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It sounds like a question.

His eyes meet mine, for the second time since we met. He jots something down and proceeds to go through a rehearsed speech on business economics (in simple math – so I can follow along), ending with, any raises will be considered after my work ethic has been verified (and in an undetermined amount of time).

My mind wanders as he continues with an example of why Taco Bell can’t afford to pay their employees above minimum wage, lest their one dollar taco become a six dollar taco. I’ve given 100% to every employer I’ve ever had and I’d give this man the same, if he hired me. But he won’t. He wants my maximum [100%] and I get his minimum [wage].

If I’d said minimum wage, I’d have a job offer but I’m walking out of this office. I can’t work for this man and it’s probably for the best.

Now I know the question of wage is just another way to weed out candidates; people who hope for more and God forbid, pray to get paid a living wage.

Unemployment sucks.

Lysa Jernigan

Coos Bay

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