Nickel and Dimed Study Guide

Character Descriptions

Barbara Ehrenreich - Ehrenreich is the author of this work. She attempts to find out if single mothers could make ends meet with low-wage jobs and no Welfare assistance.

Lewis Lapham - Lapham is the editor of Harper’s, with whom Ehrenreich develops the idea for her investigation.

Gail - Gail is the “middle-aged wiry waitress” from the Hearthside; she is responsible for training Ehrenreich.

Billy - Billy is a cook at the Hearthside. He has a temper and is frequently mean to the female servers.


Lionel - Lionel is the Haitian busboy at the Hearthside.

Timmy - Timmy is the fourteen-year-old white busboy at the Hearthside.

Joan - Joan is the “svelte fortyish hostess” at the Hearthside.

Phillip - Phillip is a manager at the Hearthside.

Stu - Stu is a cook at the Hearthside.

Joy - Joy is “a plump, blowsy woman in her early thirties”; she is a manager at Jerry’s.

B.J. - B.J. is the other manager at Jerry’s. She is mean and disliked by the employees.

Nina - Nina is “a tattooed twenty-something” waitress at Jerry’s.

Ellen - Ellen is a waitress who once managed a restaurant in Massachusetts but will not try to manage at Jerry’s because she does not like ordering people around.

Lucy - Lucy is in her fifties and easygoing. She is a waitress at Jerry’s.

George - George is a nineteen-year-old Czech dishwasher at Jerry’s who has been in the country for only a week when Ehrenreich meets him.

Millie - Millie is the housekeeping manager.

Carlotta - Carlotta is a “middle-aged African American woman” who trains Ehrenreich in housekeeping.

Linda - Linda is Ehrenreich’s supervisor at the nursing home in Maine. She is “a kindly-looking woman of about thirty.”

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