'There was no 'failing' unless you just did not want to work, weren't white, or drank and smoked away your paychecks,' the Reddit user shared.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on December 12, 2022. It has since been updated.
The internet is awash with stories fretting over Gen Z's supposed dislike of workplace "norms," but young employees are not entitled, lazy, or eager to slack off. Instead, they are choosing to reject some of the workforce customs that earlier generations were compelled to adopt. Reddit user u/gregsw2000 brought forward an interesting perspective to this discourse when he recounted a chat he had with his grandmother, who is approaching 90 and is part of the Silent Generation. In a post, he described how things were different when his grandmother first entered the workforce.
The grandmother of the OP (original poster) apparently began working as a payroll clerk in 1951 and was considered an "old maid" since she didn't get married until she was over 30. "The minimum wage for women in 1951 was $0.75 per hour, which she earned. She claims there was no reason she couldn't have made ends meet on that $0.75 per hour because even local rentals would have been around [a third] of her minimum wage salary, and her costs would have been substantially lower," u/gregsw2000 wrote.
The CPI Inflation Calculator estimates that 75 cents in 1951 will be nearly equal to $8.60 in 2022. The OP's grandmother's description of life in her youth is wildly dissimilar from the reality of young folks today in the US. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour and hasn't changed in more than ten years.
The OP also mentioned how simple it was for his grandmother to get a job: "She wanted to tell me she never even had to submit an application for any of these jobs — her parents knew the owners from around town, and they knew she needed a job, so the owner approached her about it. She said she had seen some of the wacky requirements for jobs these days. She moved to work as an office manager for a florist after leaving that place. They came up to her. She had no idea the position even existed."
After getting married, OP's grandma moved in with his grandfather instead of continuing to live with her parents. As a "shoe cutter," where he made less than $1.25 per hour, OP's grandfather is said to have supported the two of them because he didn't want her to work.
u/gregsw2000 revealed that his grandmother only worked part-time and received a minimal inheritance. His grandpa "never made good money in his entire life, only working at a single 'low skill' factory job, which was eventually offshored sometime during the Reagan administration," he wrote.
But in 1962, they had everything, including a "new, standalone, home with a 20-year mortgage, for an extremely affordable payment, new cars, and my grandmother is a self-described 'impulse shopper,' who would buy all kinds of random shit she'd never use if allowed," OP shared. His grandmother is still living off of social security and the money from selling their house after his grandfather passed away, for ten times what they originally paid for it.
OP concluded by saying the following: "When Boomers try to tell you life was hard during their lives, they're not telling the truth. The minimum wage almost always supported a decent living, as intended, while they were up and coming. There was no 'failing' unless you just did not want to work, weren't white, or drank and smoked away your paychecks. Don't let old folks gaslight you. They're outright lying about what their financial lives were like, or the amount of 'hard work' they had to put in to have those lives. It is a mythology they have built for themselves, not reality."