Archive for the ‘Dollars and nonsense’ Category

A workin’ man can’t get nowhere today

September 6, 2021

Luck of the draw.

Happy Labor Day, comrades.

I’m barely a worker these days; my paying chores have dwindled to one “Shop Talk” cartoon per month for Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

Of course, now that BRAIN is a part of the Greater Outside Globe-Spanning Vertically Integrated Paywalled Conglomerate, I find myself negotiating a contract to keep my faded Levi’s up and buckled while I continue to do what I’ve been doing for nigh on to 30 years. So it goes.

Thus, in solidarity with all y’all still on The Man’s clock, here a few random tales culled from our workaday world:

• Hotel workers serve as an unsung pit crew for the firefighters battling the Caldor blaze.

• Job openings outnumber the unemployed. But a gulf between the jobs available and what workers want has led to a “Great Reassessment.”

• Speaking of assessments, are the bots trying to upend the MeatWorld JobMart or are we just stumbling around in the dark as per usual? Kevin Drum has some brief thoughts on the topic.

• Is the boss watching, even when you’re working from home? Maybe. Say hello to “tattleware.”

• Can a workin’ man get somewhere today? He surely couldn’t back in 1978, according to Merle Haggard.

Fuelishness

June 19, 2021

Keep on (not) truckin’. Photo courtesy Groendyke Transport

Here’s a fun story. My man Hal was homeward bound after a track meet in Lakewood and lo and behold, there was no gasoline to be found in either Florence or Weirdcliffe.

There’s no shortage of gasoline. But there is a shortage of tank-truck drivers, thanks in part to The Bug® and decisions made around same. And we two old newspapermen, to our everlasting shame, had to get the deets from (choke) the TV stations’ websites.

KRDO had the best piece, quoting spokespeople from AAA, the National Tank Truck Carriers, and Groendyke Transport.

Something like a quarter of tank trucks were parked in April due to a lack of qualified drivers, sez the NTTC. Older drivers decided to retire, sez Groendyke. And driver schools shut down, which kept new drivers from getting certified.

And if Circle K can’t fill its tanks, well … neither can you, Skeezix.

AAA Colorado is urging motorists not to panic-buy gasoline the way they did toilet paper. Yeah, good luck with that. They’ll be panic-buying both because right now they’re out of gas and shitting themselves.

Oh, eat me

April 20, 2021

“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.

More, late*

December 21, 2020

A little light and a lot more tunnel.

“Pandemic Deal by Congress Provides Economic Relief, for Now,” reports The New York Times.

But it’s too little, too late, and perhaps the last of Uncle Sammy’s pennies in the ol’ tin cup for a while, adds The Old Grey Hoor, in an analysis by Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley.

The injection of money comes months too late for tens of thousands of failed businesses, however, and it may not be enough to sustain unemployed workers until the labor market rebounds. Moreover, it could be the last help from Washington the economy gets anytime soon.

Call me cynical, but I think we need some brighter bulbs on this job.

*Apologies to Chris in the Morning.

TGI(B)F?

November 27, 2020

If the image appears a tad blurry it’s because pretty much everything out there is in vigorous motion.

Well, it’s not what I would call black, but then neither is it exactly a bright, bright, sunshiny Friday out there.

We are presently enjoying a thundering east wind that is extreme even by New Mexican standards, and as a consequence the options for working off yesterday’s holiday feast seem limited.

What a fine day for huddling indoors and bargain-hunting at a Bug®-safe distance! Coincidentally, my in-box runneth over with various pitches, entreaties, and pleas. A cantankerous senior citizen on a fixed income is a target demographic? Who knew?

B&H Photo & Video, for starters. They were first to pound on my digital door, at 4:18 a.m. The early bird catches the worm, don’t you know. They were followed in quick succession by Guitar Center, Brydge, Rudy Project, Brazos Walking Sticks, GoPro, Gore Wear, and Outdoor Research, all before 8 a.m.

And this is just the lot that made it past my extensive network of junk filters, mind you.

They sense my frailty. Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute some marketing poge gets a click-through from his email blast, he gets stronger. Each time I look around the walls move in a little tighter. …

The Clampdown, v2.1

November 19, 2020

The gub’nah had to both tighten and clarify The Clampdown 2.0 just days after it debuted because (a) people are stupid, and (2) see (a).

This is going to be one of our biggest problems as we endure Bug Breath, In The Year of the Plague: Democracy and dummies don’t mix.

Lord, am I ever glad I managed to surf the free-range-rumormongery wave smack dab onto Social Security Beach. People just don’t read anymore, probably because too many of them can’t, and thus my services are mostly no longer required.

If the educational system and the Fourth Estate were spared the machinations of the political-industrial complex, we might not be where we are at the moment, which is crouched in the valley under our tiny parasols, awaiting the shit monsoon, while our betters in the mountaintop trophy homes trade us like junk bonds.

Still, you don’t need to be a pro copy jock to take a casual glance at the gub’nah’s public health order and see that, hmm, yes, you can still buy a jug of Skeeter’s Sidewalk Softener in person from The Beernut’s Booze ’n’ Bullets Boutique, but no, sorry, you’re gonna have to depend upon the Christian charity of the Internets and the Brown Truck Dude to acquire that plastic Jeebus for your dashboard.

Now, I know, retail represents a big chunk of the economy, both in terms of GDP and total employment. And it’s nice to get out of the house for an hour, wander the aisles of FreeDumb Hardware & Nail Salon, touching this and that with an ooh and an ahh, maybe buy a Chinese belt sander to tackle those irksome calluses on our tootsies.

But for the sake of public health, maybe it’s time we started thinking about what we want versus what we need.

Do we need a Starbucks, a Mickey D’s, a Shell station, and a Walgreens holding down every corner of every intersection? I don’t see that one in the Constitution. I checked. Because I can read.

Wish you weren’t here

April 26, 2020

Uncomfortably dumb.

“Miley Cyrus plays Pink Floyd?”

All in all, you’re just another shtick in the mall.

 

Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out

February 13, 2020

KC hipsters shake their groove thangs to the swingin’ sounds
of KCXL and Radio Sputnik.

I don’t remember what was playing on the radio when I was hitchhiking through Kansas City back in 1972. Number one on my personal hit parade was getting the hell out of Missouri.

Forty-eight years later, guess who wants in?

Radio Sputnik, that’s who. Actually, the Russian propaganda outlet has already landed, at three KC-area radio stations.

According to Neil MacFarquhar at The New York Times, Radio Sputnik — formerly Radio Moscow — is one cog in a state-run Russian “news” machine that focuses on “sowing doubt about Western governments and institutions rather than the old Soviet model of selling Russia as paradise lost.”

“(T)he constant backbeat,” says MacFarquhar, “is that America is damaged goods.”

Well. I guess it must be. It’s a hell of a note when we have to offshore our bitching and moaning to the Russians.

Can’t Alpine Broadcasting Corporation find some red-blooded, home-grown, U-nited States of America Americans to talk shit? I mean, I do it for free, which is about as cheap as it comes. Alpine honcho Peter Schartel has the Russkies and their stooges do it for him and he gets $27.50 an hour. What’s that work out to in rubles, or pieces of silver?

I don’t expect that KCXL plays many cuts from the early Merle Haggard catalog between swigs of milk and honey and preachin’ ’bout some other way of living. But if you slip Schartel a few dead presidents, why, I expect he might just accommodate you.

It’s a free country, but everything in it costs money.

Of artists and safety nets

November 13, 2019

No, your eyes do not deceive you. That is a story in the Colorado Springs Sun, mentioning President Nixon, written by Your Humble Narrator in the Year of Our Lord 1974.

Thank Cthulhu I’m not an artist like Russell Chatham. We hacks have a safety net.

Here’s mine: This past weekend, Herself signed me up to start collecting Socialist Insecurity payments beginning in March 2020. If I live that long, and assuming that Agent Orange doesn’t redirect all SS monies to his Wall or his wallet, I will receive a princely sum indeed, each and every month.

After accounting for inflation, it’s roughly equal to what I was paid as a copy boy back in 1974, when I first got into the writing racket.

I figure I can score a used Chevy Express 1500 for about 12 large. The monthly payments should take about 18 percent of my income, which sounds about right. The camping gear I’ve already got.

And parking down by the river? It’s free! Winning!

The Farce is with us

August 30, 2019

How much closer? Honey, call the Space Farce!

Hm. No flying saucers up there. Not right this minute, anyway.

I guess we need a “space force” anyway, though, if only to learn how to flush money down a zero-gravity toilet.

Look for a low-Earth-orbit version of the F-35, coming to a military-industrial complex near you.

“Jesus, Chet, now they want the fucker to be a spacecraft, too. They’re lucky it gets off the ground at all. Oh, well, it’s only money, amirite? Haw haw haw! Back to the ol’ drawing board. …”