"Just like millions of other Americans who come home every night with aching feet"

Keeley B., line cook, Seattle

Keeley B., line cook, Seattle

"Making $12.50 per hour in a city as expensive as Seattle felt like a punishment for a crime I'd never committed. I could only afford a small room in a friend's house.

It was difficult, as he had a wife and child. Working the closing shift meant I would get home late and be woken early by the kid getting ready for school, so I was always tired. It's not easy to find new work when you are always half asleep. I had enough extra money to go out once a week, and even then I could only go to the cheap bars and restaurants, which is depressing so usually I wouldn't go out at all.

I saw no future for myself, and no way out. The only other jobs I could find paid similarly and were the same menial jobs like the one that I had. I couldn't think about my future because it seemed too bleak.

Now I have found a better place to live, and make around $16-$17 dollars after tips. I can save money and go out when I want. I can use my savings to go back to school, start a small business or just have something for when I get old. I can now think about my future without a sense of dread. With the extra money I can go out and be social, and make contacts to further my future goals, as well as put that money into local businesses.

I think more than anything though, I finally feel like I am getting paid a fair wage for the hard work that I do. (I'm a line cook at a busy bar in Pioneer Square.)

No one should feel compromised while working an honest job, and no one should be punished for coming from a working class background. It's easy to look down on a roofer until you spring a leak, you know.

I'm not looking for handouts, shortcuts or anything like that, I want to live with dignity just like millions of other Americans who come home every night with aching feet. I want the security to know that if I have to take a week off of work due to health issues, I won't end up on the street due to failure to pay rent. I want the pride knowing that what I do for a living, no matter how menial, is appreciated.

In other words, you can't have a life without a living wage."

Help Working Washington amplify workers' voices and change the conversation about work, wealth, and inequality — contribute $15 today.