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The sad tale of Talia Jane: I worked for Yelp, but they wouldn’t pay my $733 phone bill for me

February 24, 2016

My latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

yelp offices

Yelp’s San Francisco HQ: Working here was living hell for poor pitiful Talia Jane

Here’s the open letter to her boss (naming him by name) that Talia Jane (not her full name) posted on Medium about the woes of being a millennial working for Yelp at its fancy San Francisco headquarters:

“I left college, having majored in English literature, with a dream to work in media. It was either that or go to law school. Or become a teacher. But I didn’t want to become a cliche or drown in student loans, see. I also desperately needed to leave where I was living?—?I could get into the details of why, but to sum up: I wanted to die every single day of my life and it took me several years to realize it was because of the environment I was in….

“Coming out of college without much more than freelancing and tutoring under my belt, I felt it was fair that I start out working in the customer support section of Yelp/Eat24 before I’d be qualified to transfer to media. Then, after I had moved and got firmly stuck in this apartment with this debt, 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….

“So here I am, 25-years old, balancing all sorts of debt and trying to pave a life for myself that doesn’t involve crying in the bathtub every week.”

Sounds awful already, doesn’t it? But it gets worse:

“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….

“Did I tell you about how I got stuck in the east bay because my credit card, which amazingly allows cash withdrawals, kept getting declined and I didn’t have enough money on my BART Clipper card to get to work? Did I tell you that my manager, with full concern and sympathy for my situation, suggested I just drive through FastTrak and get a $35 ticket for it that I could pay at a later time, just so I could get to work? Did I tell you that an employee at CVS overheard my phone call with my manager and then gave me, straight from his wallet, the six dollars I needed to drive into work? Do you think CVS pays more than Yelp? I worked a job similar to one at CVS. A manager spends half an hour training you on the cash register, you watch a video, maybe take a brief quiz, and you’re fully trained to do the entire job. Did you know that after getting hired back in August, I’m still being trained for the same position I’ve got? But Marcus at CVS has six dollars in his wallet, and I’m picking up coins on the street trying to figure out how I’ll be able to pay him back….

“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….”

Then–oops!–this happened:

“UPDATE: As of 5:43pm PST, I have been officially let go from the company. This was entirely unplanned (but I guess not completely unexpected?) but any help until I find new employment would be extremely appreciated. My PayPal is paypal.me/taliajane, my Venmo is taliajane (no hyphen). Square Cash is cash.me/$TaliaJane. Thank you so much for helping my story be heard.”

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen
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