This is a true story about a precious snow flake named Talia Jane, who is emblematic of everything that’s wrong with America’s Millennials, aka Generation Y — those born between 1980 and the early 2000s, who would be 18 to 30 years old today.
Talia Jane was a 25-year-old San Francisco Yelp employee, her first job after college. But Talia didn’t like the fact that Yelp paid her only minimum wage, at $12 an hour. So she wrote an open and very long 2,000-word letter to Yelp’s CEO and co-founder, Jeremy Stoppelman, and posted it online on medium.com on Feb. 19, 2016.
In her letter, Talia said that she majored in English literature in college and always wanted to work in media. She moved to San Francisco, a high-cost city, because she likes the weather, incurring credit card debt from the move. She has a car and lives alone in a $1245 a month apartment, with a landline phone and internet service.
She got a job at Yelp, but is unhappy because:
“I was told I’d have to work in support for an entire year before I would be able to move to a different department. A whole year answering calls and talking to customers just for the hope that someday I’d be able to make memes and twitter jokes about food.”
Then, Talia complains about her pay:
“I haven’t bought groceries since I started this job. Not because I’m lazy, but because I got this ten pound bag of rice before I moved here and my meals at home (including the one I’m having as I write this) consist, by and large, of that. Because I can’t afford to buy groceries. Bread is a luxury to me, even though you’ve got a whole fridge full of it on the 8th floor. But we’re not allowed to take any of that home because it’s for at-work eating. Of which I do a lot. Because 80 percent of my income goes to paying my rent.”
Although Yelp provides Talia with medical insurance, including vision and dental, she complains about the copays:
“Let’s talk about those benefits, though. They’re great. I’ve got vision, dental, the normal health insurance stuff — and as far as I can tell, I don’t have to pay for any of it! Except the copays. $20 to see a doctor or get an eye exam or see a therapist or get medication. Twenty bucks each is pretty neat, if spending twenty dollars didn’t determine whether or not you could afford to get to work the next week.”
Next, Talia whines about “getting declined” for her credit card’s cash withdrawal, and paying her phone and electricity bills:
“Will you pay my phone bill for me? I just got a text from T-Mobile telling me my bill is due. I got paid yesterday ($733.24, bi-weekly) but I have to save as much of that as possible to pay my rent ($1245) for my apartment that’s 30 miles away from work because it was the cheapest place I could find that had access to the train, which costs me $5.65 one way to get to work. That’s $11.30 a day, by the way. I make $8.15 an hour after taxes. I also have to pay my gas and electric bill. Last month it was $120. According to the infograph on PG&E’s website, that cost was because I used my heater. I’ve since stopped using my heater. Have you ever slept fully clothed under several blankets just so you don’t get a cold and have to miss work? Have you ever drank a liter of water before going to bed so you could fall asleep without waking up a few hours later with stomach pains because the last time you ate was at work? I woke up today with stomach pains. I made myself a bowl of rice.
Look, I’ll make you a deal. You don’t have to pay my phone bill. I’ll just disconnect my phone. And I’ll disconnect my home internet, too, even though it’s the only way I can do work for my freelance gig that I haven’t been able to do since I moved here because I’m constantly too stressed to focus on anything but going to sleep as soon as I’m not at work. Should I sell my car? It’s not my car, actually, it’s my grandpa’s. But the back left tire is flat and the front right headlight is out and the registration is due to be renewed in April and I already know I can’t afford any of that. I haven’t even gotten an oil change since I started this job (in August). But maybe I could find someone on Craigslist who won’t mind all of that because they’ll look at the dark circles under my eyes and realize I need the cash more than they do.”
Talia proposes that Yelp stop providing employees with “those awful flavored coconut waters” and so save about $24,000 in two months, which Yelp could use to increase her salary:
“I wonder what it would be like if I made $24,000 more annually. I could probably get the headlight fixed on my car. And the flat tire. And maybe even get the oil change and renewed registration — but I don’t want to dream too extravagantly. Maybe you could cut out all the coconut waters altogether? You could probably cut back on a lot of the drinks and snacks that are stocked on every single floor. I mean, I could handle losing out on pistachio nuts if I was getting paid enough to afford groceries. No one really eats the pistachios anyway — have you ever tried answering the phone fifty times an hour while eating pistachios? Those hard shells really get in the way of talking to hundreds of customers and restaurants a day.”
Then Talia gets really personal with the CEO:
“I hear your net worth is somewhere between $111 million and $222 million. That’s a whole lotta rice…. According to this website, you’ve got a pretty nice house in the east bay. How much do you pay your gardeners to keep that lawn and lovely backyard looking so neat?”
She finally ends her long whiny letter, signing herself as “Your Friend In Food, Talia.”
In an update, Talia said Yelp fired her “as of 5:43pm PST” that day, two hours after her letter was posted online. She appeals to readers to “help” her until she finds another job, by sending her money via PayPal, Square Cash, or GoFundMe.
Writing for the New York Post 5 days later on Feb. 24, Kyle Smith says Talia netted $1,200 on GoFundMe. Smith writes:
Memo to Millennials: Corporate America doesn’t want to have a “dialogue” about your “concerns.” Being an employee is not like being a college student. Your boss isn’t there to give you a cuddle and establish a committee to change his ways for you….
There’s a clue about the difference between actual suffering and the pretend kind known as “reality out of kilter with sense of entitlement.”
No one who is actually starving would turn down work. This is because working beats starving…. [Talia] Jane’s Instagram photos of her snacking habits (prosciutto, etc.) also undercut her starvation claims.
Guidelines for the starving: Instagram less; work more. Get a second job, Talia. Get a roommate. Get several. Get rid of your car. This is how everyone your age in New York has been living for generations.
Throughout the 2,000-word piece, Talia sounds the classic Millennial whine: Why isn’t the world helping me more?…. Talia’s problems have nothing to do with Yelp and everything to do with Talia.
It doesn’t seem to occur to Talia that:
- Her college major in English Lit does not qualify her for high-paying jobs. That’s just the reality.
- Most everybody begins with low-paying jobs, then after hard work and the acquisition of more skills, you move up to better-paying jobs.
- Talia can cut down on her expenses in a myriad of ways, e.g., moving to a lower-cost city, selling her car, have one phone only (cell or landline), share rental costs with a roommate.
- Most important of all, Talia can best do herself and any employer a favor by changing her socialist entitlement mentality.
New York Post reader April wrote in a comment that Talia’s “Internet history shows she used social media to publicly berate the Yelp customers that she served,” calling them “ugly, profane names”.
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Yelp should have fired Talia a long time ago for for abusing its customers and her poor attitude of entitlement and resentment.
Dr. Eowyn’s post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds.