WINTER HAVEN — Brian McDaniel isn’t exactly Lovin’ It. But he’s doing it.
The 30-year-old Lakelander has five kids and a common-law wife. When The Ledger first visited with McDaniel early this year, he had two cooking jobs—one during the day at Arby’s on Memorial Boulevard in the heart of Lakeland and the other at night at the McDonald’s at Combee Road and U.S. 92. He’s since quit McDonald’s, but he’s still working two jobs, having applied through a temp agency to get picked up as a box maker for $275 a week at Whitlock Packaging Corp. in Lakeland.
“I get tired,” McDaniel says. “But I’m doing what I have to do to feed my family.”
He said he made Florida’s minimum wage of $8.05 per hour at McDonald’s, where he worked for a year, and an extra nickel, $8.10, at Arby’s. He’s been at Arby’s for 15 months.
McDaniel usually works 65 hours a week between two jobs. He rarely has a full day off.
When he worked both restaurant jobs in one day, his day typically began at 6:30 a.m., helping Amy Shank, 31, get the kids ready for school. The oldest, Devin, is 12. Kay’Lee is 9, Brendan is 8 and Trentin is 7. Baby Benjamin is just a year old but eats like a linebacker.
The couple has been together for 11 years. They plan to marry next year.
By 10 a.m. McDaniel would be Arby’s, leaving by 3 p.m. to help Shank gather up the kids from school. It’s the best time of the day for him because he gets to spend a few hours with his children.
Now, though, since he began working 40 hours a week at Whitlock, he starts work there at 6 a.m. and heads home at 2:30 every Monday through Friday. That leaves him some time with his family before he heads to Arby’s, generally four nights a week for about six hours each. He clocks out between 12:30 and 1 a.m.
He’s not around On some days McDaniel hardly gets to see the kids and they miss him, said Shank, who stays home to care for two of her children, who have serious health issues and require frequent trips to the doctor.
On other days, it’s even worse.
To supplement the family income, McDaniel gives blood plasma twice a week, which pockets him an extra $60.
The family also gets $312 per month in food stamps and $1,353 from Supplemental Security Income for the disabilities of two of the children.
“We live week-to-week,” Shank said.
The family rents a small two-bedroom house in eastern Lakeland for $550 per month. Each child has his or her own bed, but it’s cramped. Despite so many people in such a small space, the house is well-kept.
McDaniel said he’s hoping his story will lead to a better job for him. “I’m a hard worker,” he said. He wants one job, not two.
He said he has experience doing electrical work and can operate a fork-lift.
Gordon Kettle, an economics professor at Polk State College, said no statistics are kept showing the percentage of Polk County workers making minimum wage.
“But it would be a very small percentage, one or two percent,” he said. He said there would be a more significant percentage just above minimum wage.
Kettle said most people working at minimum-wage jobs are either young or old, including some older people “who really don’t need to work,” like store greeters.
According to 2014 numbers from the Florida Bureau of Labor Market Statistics, the following entry-level jobs in Polk County are most likely to pay minimum wage: n Recreation attendants.
- Child-care workers.
- Car washers.
- Food prep workers, cooks and dishwashers.
- Farm and nursery workers.
- Funeral attendants.
- Hotel desk clerks.
- Janitors, laundry workers.
- Light delivery drivers.
- Office clerks, receptionists and security guards.