Apparently the professionals at New York Times didn’t catch up to this story (that I blogged about a little over a a month ago) until yesterday but there’s still some good tidbits from there you may have not gotten here (AKA, more formalized writing and some more background on this woman that I didn’t know/didn’t talk about).
So it’s still worth checking out for sure.
Here are a few excerpts I rather liked:
But dreams rarely pay the rent. So Ms. Fernandes worked three jobs, at three Dunkin’ Donuts stores in northern New Jersey, shuttling from Newark to Linden to Harrison and back. She often slept in her car — two hours here, three hours there — and usually kept the engine running, ready in an instant to start all over again.
In death, Ms. Fernandes has been held up as a symbol of the hardships facing our nation’s army of low-wage workers. Her friends say she earned little more than $8.25 an hour — New Jersey’s minimum wage — and passed her days and nights in a blur of iced coffees and toasted breakfast sandwiches, coffee rolls and glazed jelly doughnuts.
Insultingly one of her employers at the Dunkin Donut’s called her a “model employee” which implies, I guess, that if you’re a model employee the best thing you can do is never care about your own limits and put your job before your health.
Helpfully this author, Rachel Swarns also makes Maria a bit more than her job:
But Ms. Fernandes was more than an emblem of our nation’s rising economic inequality. She was Maria, the bubbly woman who worried about her weight, doted on her pet Chihuahua and three cats and fed cast-aside bits of bagels and bread to the neighborhood birds.
She adored Michael Jackson and his music. And she took pains to help anyone who needed it, regularly paying for coffee and doughnuts for a homeless man, even when she fell behind on her bills. (He showed up at her funeral this month, to pay his respects.)
But most depressingly of all:
She took her first job with Dunkin’ Donuts in Linden four years ago, according to the spokeswoman, Ms. King. About 18 months ago, she added the jobs in Newark and Harrison. She never grumbled, said Ms. Barra, a neighbor in an apartment above Ms. Fernandes’s. But it wasn’t enough.
Her landlady, Amelia Resende, said Ms. Fernandes fell behind on her rent a couple of times this year, struggling to come up with $550 a month for the basement apartment in Newark that she rarely slept in. Mr. Carter said that she was hoping to move to Pennsylvania, where he lives.
Ms. Resende said that Ms. Fernandes slept in her running S.U.V. so often that she started keeping a container full of fuel in the back. Mr. Carter warned that this wasn’t safe, but Ms. Fernandes brushed aside his concerns. She couldn’t run the risk of waking up to an empty tank.
“She had to go to work,” Ms. Resende said.
And so after all that, all of that self-sacrifice and putting her job and her rent before her immediate health she still fell behind the rent every now and again. She still was barely getting by and it seemed like her diet largely consisted of things she bought at Dunkin’s rather than some place else.
But where was Maria after all of this hard work and barely getting by? Usually not in the apartment she was working so hard just to keep.
And what did she die in? Not a t-shirt of her choice or her favorite attire or anything like that.
She died in her work uniform.