Oh, eat me

“No one wants to work anymore.” And yet somebody posted this sign at a place of business. ’Ees a puzzlement, to be sure.

Here’s an interesting story. Not “interesting” in the sense that it was solidly reported, written, and edited, which it was not. Interesting in that it calls into question the business model of the fast-food industry.

The story — headlined “We’re competing with unemployment” — focuses on the hiring problems that outfits like Fresquez Companies, Twisters, and Sonic-Inspire Brands are having locally in Year Two of The Plague®.

Back in the day, when newspapers still had copy desks, a cynical old rim rat might have wondered at some volume whether the corporate types quoted in the piece had coordinated their tales of woe.

Says one: “Why would anybody want to, I guess, start at a minimum-wage job when they can be earning more money … on unemployment?”

Adds another: “People are making a lot more money being unemployed than employed, and the world is coming back to dine-in and eat-in a little bit at a time, so the stimulus really paused people applying to jobs.”

And a third: “I think it’s pretty easy to connect … unemployment benefits to it. I think a lot of us feel like a lot of people have chosen not to go back to work yet, because they’re still receiving the benefits.”

Well, shucks. It makes a man’s eyes damp, for sure.

My first question was, “How many of these struggling companies have received SBA Paycheck Protection Program funds or some other form of governmental assistance to make ends meet in these troubled times?” The story doesn’t say.

Nor does the reporter speak with any current, former, or potential employees. The one nod to working people came in a quote from OLÉ Education Fund executive director Matthew Henderson, who said: “Essential workers have risked their lives to keep New Mexico running during the pandemic. Some have decided, however, that the risk to their family’s health is not worth the poverty wages and lack of benefits that many employers offer. Don’t fault workers for refusing to be exploited.”

When I was young and even dumber than I am now, I briefly dated a single mom who availed herself of the various forms of governmental assistance to be had at the time. She was always strapped for cash, and since I was young and dumb, I asked her why she didn’t just get a job.

She explained patiently that the kind of job she would be able to get wouldn’t begin to pay the bills, much less the cost of child care while she worked. So she chose to keep jumping through the hoops of public assistance and raising her child. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

How many potential recruits for the Paper Hat Platoon have decided to stay home, collect assistance, and help their kids navigate remote learning with the goal of giving them a future that doesn’t involve pitching greaseburgers through windows at the Duke City’s drive-thrus? I mean, you don’t need a Ph.D in Google Search to find horror stories about the life and times of the fast-food worker.

I suspect this story may have had its roots in the photo above, posted on Twitter by a local TV reporter. Snapped at a local Sonic, it shows a sign reading: “We are short staffed. Please be patient with the staff that did show up. No one wants to work anymore.”

Wrong, pendejo. They just don’t want to work for you.

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16 Responses to “Oh, eat me”

  1. carl duellman Says:

    i hope you wrote this post as a letter to the editor.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Naw. It’s pointless. The Journal is struggling just like the grease pits. I don’t know what they pay, or how they manage their copy flow, but have a look at the staff directory.

      I see six staffers with lofty titles under “Administration.” The city desk has an editor and three assistants, which is not awful. But I suppose they must have to deal with the Journal North copy as well.

      Meanwhile, I see just two people on the copy desk: a copy-desk chief and one copy editor. Don’t know as you need a chief for a tribe of two. The design desk, meanwhile, has five people. A triumph of style over substance, que no?

  2. khal spencer Says:

    You need to edit this for whatever length the Journal allows and send it in. Its pretty damn good and on point. Fuck these pompous assholes.

    On another related subject. One summer I tried working for UPS for a second job, as I had cratered my GPA and lost a lot of my scholarship. I lasted about a week in the back of a stifling hot truck packing boxes. It was the worst job I ever had. One could not even leave the truck to take a pee without getting fired. I came to the conclusion that I would either quit or I would potentially do something that would land me in the Greybar Estates. So i just told the supervisor to fuck off and left. Best decision I coulda made.

    There is a soft spot in my heart (and likely, in my head) for anyone who works these service jobs. Probably why I was a union activist back in the day.

    Eventually got some of my funding back, too, but took a while to whittle away at the school loans.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      We don’t eat fast food, as you might have suspected. But Herself the Elder likes it, especially the KFC, and a while back I accompanied Herself on a take-out mission.

      Holy hell, was that person working the window a one-man band. He needed eight arms to take care of business. He was working the drive-thru intercom, collecting and bagging our order, talking to us and to one of his colleagues in the eatery, ringing us up, and passing out the grub. He may have had a mop attached to one foot and been cleaning the floor to boot.

      Total pro. Mad skillz. I have no idea what he was making but it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t have done his job at gunpoint.

  3. khal spencer Says:

    My very first job? I had no idea what to do right out of high school for that summer, as my ROTC funding and dorm room didn’t kick in till fall. I left home because back then my stepdad and I were nearly at knife point half the time. So stayed with my cousin Ralph in downtown Buffalo, as he was a Buff State student.

    After a lot of shoe leather, I gave up knocking on doors and sat down in the Manpower bullpen. Man, that was depressing. I ended up washing cars for people for a week, including one where I had to push this big Buick up the driveway as the owner wouldn’t start it.

    Then I lucked out. My mom’s former accompanist was playing piano at the Airways Hotel and got me a job as the janitor. It was hard work but I was 18. It was even harder for the maids, who were all far older. I got to see how the working class were treated.

    After I told ROTC to fuck off, I worked in the security dept. at the college as my work study job. It wasn’t so bad in the school year as I patrolled the dorms and the students were just students. Hell, I even got propositioned once. But in the summers, I worked at the university hospital and got a Ph.D. in How Medical Professionals Treat Working Class Stiffs. The nurses were a gas but many of the M.D.s treated us like lice on their collars. Especially since my job was to ID card them to get into the place.

    People need to be kind to each other. And, we need universal health care and a national living wage. For starters.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Manpower. Hoo hah. That’s how I wound up as a janitor when I dropped out of college. Manpower sent me off to a gig helping clean up the damage after a gang of dopers set a narc’s house on fire, and the Floorbrite boyos decided I had a future as a push-broom pilot.

      I found myself with three regular gigs. First I cleaned a small office at some shipping outfit on North Nevada at Garden of the Gods. Could’ve been UPS or mebbe DHL, I don’t remember. Then I jumped on my Schwinn and rode down to South Circle and Fountain, where I policed up a small sales office. Finally it was back north to the Salvation Army off Yuma and Yampa, where an officer once wrote me up for failing to wax the basketball court to his high standards. I lived nearby on East Monument Street so it was an easy roll home. Twelve-hour day for an eight-hour shift because I didn’t have a car. I call it a day but it was the night shift. Never did get used to sleeping during the day, not even with chemical assistance.

      I also swabbed out the loos, mopped floors, and washed windows at a bank in downtown Bibleburg for a while. A couple of my old college pals stumbled across me working the squeegee one day. This was one of the little nudges that eventually drove me to return to school for the old sheepskin.

      My only restaurant gig was postgraduation. I was briefly a delivery boy and pearl diver at a pizza-and-sammiches joint in Winooski, Vt. There are like 2,682,390 colleges in Burlington and I delivered to each and every one of the sonsabitches. Once a kid tried to pay me in weed. At closing time I’d pour myself a pitcher of ice-cold beer, pull on the gloves, and make everything sparkle.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Meena says that back when she was teaching at the community college, her best students were the ones who had shitcanned school and then got one of those “little nudges” courtesy of real life down in the trenches. They came back to school in overdrive, wanting to escape the “ding, fries ready” circuit.

        Come to think if it, that’s pretty much what my kid brother said after spending about a decade as a roof jockey installing satellite TV antennas as a casual hire and wondering who would pay the hospital bills if he fell off. He too decided that was a pretty bad idea as a career path. Got himself a nice civil service gig.

  4. Shelly in GJ Says:

    My question: are these places getting 0 applications for workers?

    If someone is collecting unemployment they probably don’t want to work for a place that has an attitude like this. I’m seeing a lot of pictures and stories like this in the news. I can tell that most people don’t know what collecting unemployment is really like.

    I’m collecting unemployment right now. I have to have proof of applying to jobs to keep getting my weekly unemployment payments. We are not required to apply for a job a place that we don’t want to work at.

    I’m not looking for service sector jobs. The jobs I’m applying to get hundreds of applicants.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Yeah, anybody who thinks collecting unemployment is a day at the beach has never given it a go.

      I did it once, in the mid-Eighties. The assistance was welcome, but it wasn’t easy to get, or to keep. I was looking for newspaper work, and was down to my last couple of checks before I finally found it, in another state.

      I suspect that a lot of businesspeople, like the rest of us, yearn for a return to the Old Normal. We might not get there. We might have to make a few adjustments.

      I say “we,” though I’m largely retired. Because I think customers are going to have to continue to revisit their practices as well.

      Meanwhile, good luck with the job hunt.

  5. Pat O’Brien Says:

    Pendejo applies to the business owner and the reporters, but NOT our humble host.

  6. Dale Says:

  7. khal spencer Says:

    On an unrelated subject, Derek Chauvin heads for The Greybar Hotel.

  8. Opus the Poet Says:

    As soon as I qualified for Social inSecurity I took it and a few months later signed up for the pension I earned from the job that laid me off in 1998. Between Mrs. the Poet and myself we managed to pay off the Casa de El Poeta just before she retired from providing nutrition to Jr High students and pupils in 2015. Now all we have to do is pay the ever-rising property taxes on a fixed income.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      We hope to climb into that boat too, Opus. Herself has a couple more years on the job, but I’m already on the Socialist Insecurity. No pension, alas; I wasted my life in journalism, where such things are as rare as sobriety, common sense, and long-term planning.

      We hope to pay off El Rancho Pendejo before much longer, and then, once Herself pulls the pin, we can enjoy sitting back and paying the ever-increasing tab for taxes, water, electricity, natural gas, insurance, etc. Good times! Golden years! Something like that, anyway. …

    • Shawn Says:

      I hope to be able to pay off the RV when I get it. Then I can worry about the license fee, insurance and park and camping fees. I’ll hang out my sign for “Gas, Grass or Chocolate Chip Cookies*, I’m happy to take all three”, to pay for the RV fuel or at least to get my cookie fix. I plan on visiting local busker hangouts often where I can hear the violins playing.

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