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YM Blog-a-Thon: On the corner

By Vickie Lycolumns
Apr 28, 2008 - 10:49 PM

This is a post for the third Youth Media Blog-a-Thon hosted by Youth Outlook and Wiretap. This month's topic is money. High school senior Vickie Ly talks about how she saves up for college.

Three nights out of the week, I work on the corner.

No, no, I do not sell myself; just my dignity.

I work in an outdoor shopping mall where I feel utterly displaced. I am surrounded by Botox shops, herbal tea lounges, boutiques that sell ugly, overpriced old lady clothes, and stores where casual shoes are sold for over $400. And, while passersby stroll across the street to get their wrinkles straightened out, I stand next to my hot dog stand and smile.

That’s right, I sell hot dogs. It’s not the usual run-down hole-in-the-wall type stand, it’s a gourmet experience. And, while I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a hot dog girl, I hate telling people that I work in a plaza where everything looks plastic and superficial; as if it popped out of a picture of Downtown Disney. Most people think it is exciting to work in such a lively and affluent area. But that’s easy to say when they aren’t constantly thrown into the culture.

People that frequent the area like to think that because I steam hot dogs for a “living,” I am a lesser human being. They believe that they can say whatever they want to me because I have a red, paper apron as a uniform and they have finely tailored True Religions. They hold their noses so high that I sometimes think (hope) their post-surgery skin might just slip off and land in the relish. But, regardless of how much they disparage me, I can’t say anything back because I’m just that hot dog girl on the corner.

I feel powerless in my position because customers think I cannot do anything better with my life than sell sausages for a living. Some assume that I’m an idiot and even calculate the total for me. Some look at me like I’m a social reject that must have screwed up. But, little do they understand that this is the price that I have to pay to go to college. I have to work through the ironic dichotomy of my starving-student self and the richest flukes in the city; moreover, survive it to go to work the next day.

I often wonder why and how I am able to sell a piece of myself just to go to school. Moreover, I am surprised by the lengths of which someone, “who doesn’t care about money,” will take to get a thicker pocketbook. Is earning money more important than holding your ground as a person? Is it worth it to sell your self for a pay check? In some ways, no. Others, yes. I guess there isn’t a right answer, but as long as I have tuition to pay, I’ll stay in this quandary where I can’t win either battle.


Vickie Ly is a senior at Santa Clara High School. She is paid $10/hr to sell hot dogs ($2.50 for her dignity).

Comments (11)

Donna says:
April 29, 2008 10:51 AM
Don't tell me you make $12.50/hr selling hot dogs and dignity...damn...you make more than I do as a broke-ass journalist.

dove16 says:
May 6, 2008 11:08 AM
It's all good girl... it's like a rite of passage to do work that doesn't serve any purpose but to earn money. I think it's neccessary to experience these things so you don't take for granted the privelege that you earn once you've graduated and fulfill your dreams. It also builds character...and that is a quality that we often take for granted.

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