Business was slow one brisk spring morning at the Dairy Queen in suburban Northbrook. Bernadette Simpson, manning the Blizzard machine, churned an ice cream treat and then made a show of holding it upside-down to demonstrate its gravity-defying thickness, as company policy requires her to do.
Simpson, 48, started working at Dairy Queen two years ago for $8.50 an hour, a quarter more than the state's minimum wage, and now earns $10.25.
She enjoys the job — "How can you not be happy working with ice cream?" she said — but scrapes by.
"I clip coupons, we look for sales, we keep things very low-key and we try to save as much as we can," said Simpson, a...