[Ed. note: Since this story was published, we have learned that Dylan Paul was not working for Honey Hole at the time of the interview, and she hadn't been working there for several months. We regret the error.]
I started working at the Honey Hole on Capitol Hill a month after I got fired from the Pagliacci on Broadway for refusing to serve a customer who misgendered me and rudely continued to do so after I corrected him. [Ed. note: Paul is a transgender woman.] The starting wage here is $13 an hour, which is much better than my old job, where I was working part-time on minimum wage for the first 9 months until I got a 25 cent raise.
I live out in West Seattle where four of us split a two-bedroom unit. Our rent costs about $325 per person, and we have a substantial common space, living room, and kitchen, which has been great for us. It’s a much better fit than when two of us split a cramped studio in Pioneer Square for the same price.
I’m currently pursuing an AAS at South Seattle College, and I pay close to $300 a month towards student loans. I pay close to $100 per month in medical costs, which has been a little cheaper because I’ve been able to order generic medication overseas. It’s the only way I’ve been able to fund my transition. After bills and expenses, I’ve got about $200 of fun money left.
It was harder when I was on minimum wage. There was a period of time where it was too expensive for me to use public transportation, and I felt like I was stuck in a box. I could only walk or bike anywhere, so I’d walk from Pioneer Square to Capitol Hill to work every day, or bike across the bridge to Redmond for school. After a while my bike gave way and the replacement I found wasn’t reliable enough for commutes.
It had a big impact on social life. I have friends who I lost touch with because I was so broke. I’m comfortable now, but $13 an hour is not a wage that I can rely on in the future if I want to pay off my debts.
While I haven’t been in the loop on minimum wage laws as much recently, I know it’s going to be a few more years till we see $15. I think that for most of the young people in Seattle working minimum wage jobs, especially those who are additionally pursuing an education, a raise of $9.50 to $10 dollars an hour isn’t going to make much of a difference. The workers at Honey Hole and I aren’t living hand-to-mouth, but we’re definitely still living month-to-month.
—As told to Atoosa Moinzadeh
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