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Most of the humor in Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America is based on attempting to survive with some sense of personal dignity and value intact. The only way to deal with some of the ridiculous and/or demeaning situations Ehrenreich faces is to laugh.
There is irony in some of the descriptions of her actions. As an exhausted waitress attempting to care for customers who are "hardworking locals" not coming to the Hearthside Restaurant for a fabulous meal, Ehrenreich quickly becomes protective of her customers, leading to humorous connections.
if you wonder why Americans are so obese, consider the fact that waitresses both express their humanity and earn their tips through the covert distribution of fats.
The irony of the restaurant business arises at several points in the chapter.
Picture a fat person's hell, and I don't mean a place with no food. Instead there is everything you might eat if eating had no bodily consequences - the chees fries, the chicken-fried steaks, the fudge-laden desserts - only here every bite must be paid for, one way or another, in human discomfort.
Most of the humor in the chapter, and the book, is a survival technique.
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