I’m with the 25-year-old who had a go at her boss for rubbish pay

She got sacked


An entertaining generational scuffle is playing out in San Francisco.

Talia, a 25-year old customer service employee at Eat24, Yelp’s food delivery subsidiary, has written an “open letter to CEO Jeremy Stoppelman“, in which she writes about “balancing all sort of debt and trying to pave a life for myself that doesn’t involve crying in the bathtub”. She claims that “every single one of [her] coworkers is struggling…taking side jobs, living at home”. She says that one started a crowdfunding appeal in order to get enough money to pay rent; she says that “another wrote on those neat whiteboards we’ve got on every floor begging for help because he was bound to be homeless in two weeks”.

Talia argues that there is a significant minority of young, poorly-paid staff who “pummels through” the free snacks on offer in the technology company’s office and “has to roam other floors to find something to eat”. “Is it because we’re gluttons?” she asks? “Maybe. If you starve a pack of wolves and toss them a single steak, will they rip each other to shreds fighting over it? Definitely.”

She shared the open letter on Twitter yesterday, acknowledging that she might get fired. It seems that two hours later, she was. A representative for Yelp confirmed to Quartz yesterday that she had been, declining to offer details (“We do not comment on personnel issues”).

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The letter seems hyperbolic. Like when writes: “have you ever drank a litre of water before going to bed so you could fall asleep without waking up a few hours later with stomach pains because the last time you ate was at work? I woke up today with stomach pains. I made myself a bowl of rice.”

She spins a tale of very first world deprivation – she is employed, if poorly-paid – and you wonder if she is resentful because she’s thinks her entry-level role is slightly beneath her talents, as a college graduate. I assume, also, that Yelp does not appreciate what she admits are her “half-facetious” suggestions about how to reallocate the company’s funds to free up money to pay herself and her colleagues better.

Her absence of self-awareness of has been pointed out.

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But the job probably is beneath her. And if there really is a whole segment of Yelp’s staff that is so poorly paid that they are crowdsourcing their rent, then that’s exploitative.

Most of us are more self-aware than Talia is. It is frustrating to be treated – our generation that is – like entitled brats on the one hand, and sad, unfortunate souls on the other. Both analyses – staple columns for middle-aged journalists at the moment – miss the mark.

A lot of us look on the bright side. Renting a new place every year means it’s pretty easy to ditch an unwanted flatmate. Earning less means we spend more time in the sort of vital, unsanitised places that the capital has to offer, instead of on sterile rooftops that could be anywhere, in any stock image of a city. Generation Spent is having more of a laugh than its critics would like.