Medium is a social publishing platform that gives everyone a voice, professional or not. As The Atlantic describes it, “it helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say.” Unfortunately, some people’s voices don’t always need to be heard, especially in the case of the recent An Open Letter To My CEO.
I’m not going to post this entire letter word-for-word. If you want to read it in its entirety, Medium has it for you. But there are certain excerpts that deserve attention.
The long and short of it is that the author, Talia, worked (but has since been fired for the letter) for Yelp/Eat24 in customer service. She incessantly complains to Yelp’s CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman, about the terms of her low-paying, unrewarding, entry-level job. Throughout the entire letter, she pours herself out about the difficulty of surviving in the notoriously expensive city of San Francisco due to on her low wages. How do I know San Francisco is wildly expensive? I lived paycheck-to-paycheck there for six months. But unlike her, I didn’t riddle myself with debt on a new credit card upon moving there. Nor did I portray myself as being a victim of my situation, just like she did four paragraphs 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. If you follow me on twitter, which you don’t, you’d know that these are things I already do. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get back to the situation at hand, shall we?
There’s just so much fundamentally wrong with Talia’s griping here. Just leading with the fact that she was “stuck in this apartment with this debt” is cringe-worthy considering no one made her take that job; no one made her get that apartment. Like I’ll say numerous times throughout this, living in San Francisco (or across the bay in Oakland, where Talia seems to live) is fucking pricey. I mean, it’s comparable to New York City where (I’m told) if you can make it there, you can make it literally fucking anywhere. But that’s the way it is and a 25-year-old just out of college isn’t going to change that. Would I have liked to live in San Francisco for longer than six months? Of course, but the cost of living (among other driving factors) resolved me to moving and accepting that it wasn’t reasonable for me to try to live in a city I couldn’t afford.
But what’s the most infuriating is Talia’s complete lack of motivation to pay her dues before being able to transfer to her desired department — media. We’ve all worked jobs we haven’t wanted to work. And honestly? Those jobs that we dreaded going to? They were probably on par or even worse than working customer service at Yelp. I mean, I worked a summer job at a whitefish-and-chips restaurant where I spent most of my time scraping clumps of whitefish chowder out of soup pots for minimum wage. I would’ve loved to sit at a desk with a headset on talking to people rather than getting yelled at by a chef with a borderline alcohol problem. But my end goal was getting some extra spending cash in lieu of my parents not willing to give me an allowance for the rest of my life.
Unfortunately, Talia’s warped sense of reality makes her think that it’s extreme to put in a year of work (which is a drop in the well of someone’s career) to a reach an end goal of creating memes and making food jokes — a ridiculous expectation for a career by any stretch of the imagination. But if Talia proves anything throughout the course of her letter, she truly believes she’s entitled to much more than she’s willing to earn.
Her complaints about having to work over holidays and weekends — something a majority of the United States has to do (and something I even did until I turned 28) — pale in comparison to her complaints about her benefits.
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.
You know what’s worse than having copays, Talia? Not having health insurance provided by your employer. You know, paying upwards of $200 per month only to have $45 copays for doctor’s visits and $20+ for prescriptions. Imagine if you didn’t have the luxury of full bennies and you had to take the 20% of your paycheck that didn’t go towards your overpriced rent and dedicate that to monthly payments that vastly outweigh your copays. That sounds pretty fucking miserable, doesn’t it? But that’s the way the cookie crumbles for a boatload of people in your shoes. Talk to your alleged therapist about that, though. We’ve got other things to attend to.
Unfortunately, Talia’s work complaints don’t end there. She complains about the food provided at her job, something I wasn’t familiar with for the first 28 years of my life either. She bemoans that she can’t take the company bread home because it’s only for “at-work eating,” which must be tough. I mean, I just feel so badly for you, Talia. I’m imagining you sitting in your fully-fucking-stocked breakroom eating bread with your coworkers looking similar to Aladdin and his fucking monkey, Abu, on the streets of Agrabah.
You’re literally taking handouts from everyone, Talia. Like when you took money from that CVS employee.
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.
I lived in San Francisco’s Marina district, and I actually remember giving money to someone every time I left after buying toothpaste or shampoo with the little expendable income I had. But the difference between the person I gave money to and you, Talia? He was a homeless man sitting outside of CVS with his dog on Chestnut Street, not an employee of a company that provides daily meals for their employees.
But what I find even more peculiar about your dire situation is that somehow, two weeks ago, you could afford a $26 bottle of Bulleit Bourbon (plus delivery fees, which is a unique move considering how poor you are, right). I know you deleted this Instagram after your letter went viral, but as someone who worked for an internet company, you should know that nothing ever really disappears from the internet.
Maybe, just maybe, if you weren’t buying top-shelf bourbon, you wouldn’t have to ask your CEO to pay your phone bill and internet.
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.
Oh, you’re too stressed so you just go straight to bed in your $1200/month apartment? So proactive of you. That’s much more difficult than people who work two jobs, or have to go home and cook for their financially-draining, snot-nosed kids who can’t fend for themselves. I’d launch into the grind I went on to get the job I hold today, but you can just head here and read about that part of my life. I don’t want to bog you down and stress you out any more than you already are.
Do you ever talk these things out with your roommate, though? Or wait, do you even have a roommate? That’s something you really didn’t mention. You do know that having a roommate vastly helps with your cost of living, right? Having a roommate might even make more sense than that GoFundMe that’s currently set up for you (something I’m refusing to link to because Talia doesn’t deserve any more handouts than she’s already gotten). Splitting rent, utilities, and groceries with someone is an especially smart strategy, especially as a 25-year-old. I mean, hell, I lived with two other people in San Francisco and they reduced my rent while I lived out of their dining room. It wasn’t ideal, but we made it work.
But, Talia, I do feel like I need to admit something to you — I took handouts as well. When my sister visited, my mom transferred $150 into my bank account that we spent between Delarosa and The Horseshoe, both located within walking distance from my old place. I do want to say this, though. Your requests for handouts seem a little ridiculous. Like, after you literally asked, “Will you pay my phone bill for me?”, you really launched into some interesting requests.
Maybe instead, you can help set up something to allow Eat24/Yelp employees to get food from local food banks and soup kitchens? I’m pretty proficient at rice, but some hot soup would sure make up for not being able to afford to use my heater.
Taking food from soup kitchens that provide food for those without the means of having a job really seems fair here, Talia.
Originally, I suggested that Eat24 offer a matching donation with customers where they can choose a donation amount during checkout and Eat24/Yelp would match it and donate those profits to a national food program. Maybe instead, you can let customers choose a donation amount during checkout and divide those proceeds among your employees who spend more than 60% of their income on rent? The ideal percent is 30%. As I said, I spend 80%.
Because it’s more reasonable for you to ask for handouts from your company’s customer base than it is for you to follow through on that freelance gig you talked about.
Originally, I suggested that Eat24 offer special coupon codes where half of the code’s value ($1) goes to charity. Maybe instead, you can give half the code’s value ($1) to helping employees who live across the bay pay their transit fares?
It’s so noble of you to ask for the money that you originally thought should go to charity to now go directly into your own pocket. You’re a real Mother Teresa.
But Talia, I do think we should wrap things up here. You noted in the end of your letter that “as of 5:43pm PST, I have been officially let go from the company. This was entirely unplanned (but I guess not completely unexpected?).” I’d give my condolences, but the fact of the matter is, I’m glad you got fired. I’m glad Yelp could possibly replace you with someone who values and appreciates their position with the company. With someone who wouldn’t harass the company like you did two weeks ago on Instagram (again, Talia, the internet never forgets).
But most of all, I’m glad your letter went viral. Not because you brought to light the absurdity of the cost to live in a place like San Francisco, but because now the entire world can see what type of entitled, spoiled, and downright disgraceful person you are. My only hope is that after reading your pleas for readers to donate money to you through PayPal, Venmo, and Square Cash, the general public doesn’t consider you to be the voice of our generation. I don’t want my dad to think he raised a fucking loser. .
Update: And just when you thought this girl couldn’t get any worse, this happened.
— Will deFries (@WilldeFries) February 22, 2016
Image via Unsplash