Image: Mike Kane

McKenna Haley
was a freshly minted graduate of Seattle University’s digital design program last spring when Mayor Murray and the city council were hammering out the details of Seattle’s historic new minimum wage. But she wasn’t paying attention to the political wrangling at city hall. Instead, after striking out in her search for a design job, she was learning to scoop ice cream at Molly Moon’s in Capitol Hill. Chances are 23-year-old Haley will have moved on by the time anyone is making $15 an hour—the increase will be graduated and starts this month with a bump to $10 for employees of small companies—but like a lot of other people in her shoes, she still thinks it’s pretty cool. —Matthew Halverson

When I was in high school I was a babysitter
for a long time and thought, Oh, I’d never do something like scoop ice cream. I didn’t think I’d not do a minimum wage job, but I didn’t think I’d do that sort of thing. Now I realize that I missed out on that part of my life, and here I am and it’s so enjoyable. I’m glad I got the chance to do something like this.

I make $9.47 an hour. It usually works out all right. But I have another job nannying, and I’m in the process of getting promoted here to make 10-something an hour. That’ll make things different. I also do freelance projects and things like that to have a little more of a cushion and so I can save.

What if something happens to me and I need a little extra money, or what if my life changes in a few years and I want different things? I like having the stability and having the extra money and feeling like I have other options if I lose a job or decide to do something else.

I have two roommates, and rent is about $700 with utilities per person. And it keeps going up. I wish it weren’t the case, but you know I’m an adult now so I have to I have to learn how to do those kinds of things and figure out what’s worth it to me and what changes I need to make.

The minimum wage stuff wasn’t really top of mind for me last year, but I think I passively absorbed a lot of information about it. I’m just going to deal with it when it happens. It sounds terrible, but I have other things I’m worried around right now.

We are going through this change together, as a city. I haven’t looked into it much, so I don’t know if other prices will increase. Do people think they can charge more now? Less? I don’t know.

I feel like I live backwards. Right now I work four days a week, typically in the evenings or afternoons. So my busiest times are at night when other people are going out to dinner and stuff. But it’s kind of fun, and it’s a relaxed environment. I never dread having to come here.

My social life isn’t very expensive. I’m still social and I’m friends with people I work with, but I don’t feel like I have to do things every day. It sounds cheesy, but I’ve learned that there’s lots of benefits to having a library card. You can get into museums, so that’s really awesome.

My last splurge was on a Sasquatch! ticket. I never really feel guilty when I buy something like that, but I’m conscious of what I’m doing. I will think about how many hours of work it represents, and I’ll go through my monthly budget and decide if I can still afford daily expenses.

I wish I could travel a bit more. But it’s a combination of trying not to splurge all the time and also not having enough time, especially since weekends are busy here.

I don’t have a credit card, but I should probably have one to build credit. It’s a conscious decision. I’m kind of scared of them, but I also think I’m good enough with money where I wouldn’t get in trouble.

My dad is really good with money. He never told me to not spend money, like, “Don’t do this; don’t do that.” So I think I learned it from watching my parents. Or maybe I’m inherently weird about it.

My family would be willing to help me if I needed it, and they still offer me money. I accept it sometimes, but it feels funny.

No one should have to struggle. There’s a difference between struggling and working hard to figure out what you want to do. When we graduate from college now, it’s very different from when you did. I think if I had taken a graphic design job right out of school, it wouldn’t have been exactly what I want to do, even if it was called a graphic design position. It might consist of other things I don’t want to do or aren’t interesting to me. So I think I would be struggling either way, whether financially or emotionally or mentally.

I’m a planner to an extent, but it’s been hard to be like that at this point in my life. I don’t know exactly what it is I want to do or how to obtain it yet. There are still steps I’m trying to complete before I know exactly who I am or what I want to spend my time doing.

I’ll get to where I want to be, wherever that is. Someday.


This article appeared in the April 2015 issue of Seattle Met magazine.

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