She Works Hard for the Money (1983) 

Unfamiliar with this week’s tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about a woman who works hard as a waitress. What’s the hardest job you’ve ever had? I’ve only had a few and I’ve been fortunate that I managed to avoid retail and food service, with the exception of being a dishwasher in a restaurant where my dad worked. And I was pretty young when I did it, but it was pretty physically demanding. I was on my feet almost all night, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to finish up a sink and then have my dad, who was the chef, come back to me with a whole new load to do. Volunteer work at an animal shelter, too, because it involved cleaning up lots of puppy pee and poop. You don’t realize how often they go until you’re cleaning out their cage twice in 10 minutes because they pooped, then right after you were done cleaning that up, they peed.

2) The lyrics tell us she has worked at this job for 28 years. What’s the longest you stayed with one employer? My current one–seven years. It was my first real, post-college, grown-up job.

3) Donna Summer was inspired to write this song during an awards show. She ducked into the bathroom and met the elderly ladies’ room attendant, whose job it was to make sure the room the spotless, the complimentary hairspray and moisturizer was abundant, and there was a hot towel for every celebrity who used the facilities. “Wow,” Donna thought, “she works hard for those tips.” Who is the last person you tipped? Our waitress when we went out to dinner Thursday night.

4) Early in her career, Donna was in the touring company of the musical Hair. It played in Munich for so long that she became fluent in German. What’s the longest you have ever lived away from home? I guess only semesters in college, but that doesn’t count for much because it was just a dorm about 45 minutes away. I never studied abroad or left home for an extended period of time.

5) Sam’s dad is naturally outgoing and enjoys striking up conversations with waitresses, librarians, the checker at the supermarket, etc. Sam is always polite but more private. Are you more like father or daughter? Daughter. I don’t chat unless they initiate it…which is really the story of my life.

6) A little more than 10% of the American workforce is self-employed. Have you ever been your own boss? My writing is kind of that way–I do a lot of freelance work and there’s an editorial staff, but mostly, I either claim assignments or create new ones based on the day’s big music news, churn out the article, and I’m done.

7) Labor Day weekend may offer a golden opportunity for napping and sleeping in. Do you snore? I do, but typically only when I’m really, really tired.

8) Will you be attending a Labor Day picnic or barbecue? No. We thought about having one ourselves, but we’ve been taking our sweet, sweet time unpacking. Plus I had to work Saturday, so I wouldn’t mind having the day to just kind of chill.

9) Labor Day traditionally marks the beginning of the fall. Will you be adding any new fall clothes to your wardrobe? I’m sure I’ll buy myself something at some point, but now that I’m working from home, I need clothes even less than I did before.


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