Lindsay Runyen, 23, dreams of being a history teacher, but instead, she's working as a waitress and a bartender at Winnie's LeBus in Manayunk. Nothing wrong, with the job. She likes it and the pay is good, but what about all her dreams?
"After college, you are supposed to be able to travel the world and do the things you can do to discover," Runyen said. That's out of the question. She's saddled with so much college debt that she has to work nearly a full week to make her monthly payment. That payment is due, like clockwork, but she manages it, along with her rent, a car payment, cellphone and utilities.
"There's no sense of being able to take a risk," she said. "There's the whole world and I'm not seeing it because of the ball and chain." She saved up enough money to go on vacation to Ireland with a friend, who works as a trauma nurse. While in Ireland, Runyen said, the nurse commented that it was nice to have someone pay you not to work. "I was thinking, `It's Sunday. That's my most lucrative day at the restaurant.'"
In the Inquirer series "Struggling for Work: The Broken Dreams of a New Generation," we wrote about the concept of mal-employment, meaning working below skill and education level. Runyen's a classic example. What are the implications for her future? Drexel University's Paul Harrington, director of the Center for Labor Markets and Public Policy, has an answer and it's not good.
"I do want to own a home some day," Runyen said. "I do want to have a Saturday night off."
"Right now, I'm young and I'm able to do this, because we're all the same boat," she said. "I'm very fortunate that I can pay my bills. We're safe now, but what will tomorrow bring? That's why I have to think one day at a time. We're aware that this [situation] is part of our lives, but we're not going to be stuck in this part of our lives forever. This is going to turn around."