Pandemic Mental Health - How YOU doin'?

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Greta

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I’m on my last leg back home from a road trip from AZ to upstate NY. Obviously I’ve seen a lot of this country in the past 10 days. Overall observations? People are tired. Very few masks in sight.. none required anywhere! “Hiring” signs in just about every business window. Many businesses of all kinds have completely shut down. Fast food restaurants close their lobbies at 5PM and only have drive-thru because they are so short staffed. Notices asking for patience due to short staffing. The demoralization is palpable. People are tired. And while it has been good to get out and to get to see family, it has been a bit depressing. Our country is suffering. Badly.
 

idleprocess

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Fast food restaurants close their lobbies at 5PM and only have drive-thru because they are so short staffed. Notices asking for patience due to short staffing.
I hear the occasional gripe about this in my region but haven't personally witnessed it. Service is about as cr_ppy now at fast food places as it was before the pandemic although I imagine that the customer base is a tad more activated at times.

Face masks are no longer common but they're also not rare. Medical anything, Costco about the only places that require them. A number of places passively encourage them with signage and tend to have most of the workforce wearing them, but they're not the majority.

Hoping that we don't have to become familiar with the next letter of the ancient Greek alphabet after delta.
 

Poppy

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As unemployment benefits run out, more people will go back to work. Where I see "help wanted" signs, is primarily in the food service establishments. When I was a kid, I worked for a few months at a fast food joint, where they paid less than the minimum wage. They got away with it because they claimed that tips would make up the difference. Yeah, right! Never did I see a tip there.

Fast food, and restaurants will have to adjust their menu prices and pay their employees a livable wage, then they won't have a hiring problem.

Many of them only hire part-time employees, so they don't have to pay any health benefits. Who wants to take a poverty level job without benefits?
 

bykfixer

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The road construction industry is having a devil of a time finding people.
I see magnetic "now hiring" signs on company pickup trucks pretty often lately.

It's great for those employed in the field. It gives us leverage to obtain perks the company doesn't normally offer such as paid commute time and the like. It also creates a sense of job security, which also boosts morale.

So what's not to like about playing with giant Tonka toys all day and knowing the word "layoff" is way less likely than it was just 2 years ago?
 

idleprocess

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Fast food, and restaurants will have to adjust their menu prices and pay their employees a livable wage, then they won't have a hiring problem.

Many of them only hire part-time employees, so they don't have to pay any health benefits. Who wants to take a poverty level job without benefits?
COVID seems to have triggered a sea change in the employment market that employers are unprepared to respond to. Grudging incremental wage increases and the slightest of concessions to improved working conditions seem not to be moving the needle as much as has been hoped in getting people back into what are perceived to be miserable jobs with little future.
 

Greta

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Based on my own personal experience over the past two weeks, if you can't get a little square piece of fried fish in the middle of a hamburger bun... if it's half hanging off the side... you had ONE JOB!! And you most certainly don't deserve $15/hour to do it WRONG! LITERALLY 4 out of the 5 filet-o-fish sandwiches I got on this trip, the fish was half off the bun. And the cheeseburgers weren't any better. Sorry... but jobs like those are entry level jobs. People are not MEANT to support a household of four with those jobs. Minimum wage jobs are not meant to support a household of four or even two! They are jobs for people just entering the workforce with minimum education and training. You want more money? Get more experience and education. Work your way up - like the rest of us have had to do since like... forever!

Yeah, I know... off topic... into the bad weeds. But it does come back around to how I'm doing... not so good.
 

Splitrail

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As unemployment benefits run out, more people will go back to work. Where I see "help wanted" signs, is primarily in the food service establishments. When I was a kid, I worked for a few months at a fast food joint, where they paid less than the minimum wage. They got away with it because they claimed that tips would make up the difference. Yeah, right! Never did I see a tip there.

Fast food, and restaurants will have to adjust their menu prices and pay their employees a livable wage, then they won't have a hiring problem.

Many of them only hire part-time employees, so they don't have to pay any health benefits. Who wants to take a poverty level job without benefits?
Similarly, when I was a kid, I worked in fast food places for very little money.
But the skills I learned in them served me throughout my career later on.
I don't regret "paying" for that education.
 

Olumin

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"...that famous Texas part of Hamburg"
Based on my own personal experience over the past two weeks, if you can't get a little square piece of fried fish in the middle of a hamburger bun... if it's half hanging off the side... you had ONE JOB!! And you most certainly don't deserve $15/hour to do it WRONG! LITERALLY 4 out of the 5 filet-o-fish sandwiches I got on this trip, the fish was half off the bun. And the cheeseburgers weren't any better. Sorry... but jobs like those are entry level jobs. People are not MEANT to support a household of four with those jobs. Minimum wage jobs are not meant to support a household of four or even two! They are jobs for people just entering the workforce with minimum education and training. You want more money? Get more experience and education. Work your way up - like the rest of us have had to do since like... forever!

Yeah, I know... off topic... into the bad weeds. But it does come back around to how I'm doing... not so good.
The idea that some workers (especially essential workers, which include many of your so deemed "entry level jobs") are intrinsically worth less then others and dont even deserve the right to survive off their salary is insane. Every human being should have a given and protected right to survive and live in dignity, this is in fact the entire idea behind the minimum wage. This is a mindset out of the middle ages. The argument that its been done "forever" has been used to defend too many atrocious practices, including slavery. I will not budge from that view.
 

Poppy

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I see that both sides can make a strong argument regarding minimum wage.

It has always irked me that I am expected to pay a tip for someone to bring my plate of food to my table. That should be included as a part of the dining experience.

My daughter was "Disney trained" and used to manage a restaurant bar and grill. She'll often point out the poor training of staff at restaurants when we go out to eat, or for that matter of staff of other businesses, whether it be a doctor's office, municipalities, or other professions.

Greta,
I'm sorry to hear that you are not doing well.

Me too. I'm not as well as before. Now that the grandkids are back in school, I find that I am sometimes a little bored. Winter is coming and the days are getting shorter.
 

bykfixer

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America has changed to a place where most jobs are service industry or retail for huge slices of the population. Gone are the days where good paying factory jobs were a dime-a-dozen.

Fast food joints put their people on a clock so to speak. Hurry up and get those burgers and fries out the door because 300 more people are waiting. Especially in places where the dining rooms are mandated closed.

But at the same time attitudes of the average worker sucks these days too.

Reality is what it is. That's one reason my perspective during the pandemic has remained mostly positive. I also try to remember 5 out of 4 Americans have trouble with math.
 

Splitrail

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I also try to remember 5 out of 4 Americans have trouble with math.
The only thing that saves them is point of sale computers with little pictures of the product being bought and a visual representation of the change to give back (2 dollar bills, 1 quarter, a nickel and two pennies)!
Going to credit card (or charge) further simplifies that.
 

Chauncey Gardiner

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The idea that some workers (especially essential workers, which include many of your so deemed "entry level jobs") are intrinsically worth less then others and dont even deserve the right to survive off their salary is insane. Every human being should have a given and protected right to survive and live in dignity, this is in fact the entire idea behind the minimum wage. This is a mindset out of the middle ages. The argument that its been done "forever" has been used to defend too many atrocious practices, including slavery. I will not budge from that view.

The fallacy with this thinking is it equates the intrinsic value of a human being with the value an employee provides his or her employer.
 

jtr1962

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COVID seems to have triggered a sea change in the employment market that employers are unprepared to respond to. Grudging incremental wage increases and the slightest of concessions to improved working conditions seem not to be moving the needle as much as has been hoped in getting people back into what are perceived to be miserable jobs with little future.
It's not just lousy jobs with no future which are having a sea change. The pandemic has (thankfully) caused a lot of people to reevaluate their lives. When they do, they often want a better work-life balance. Many would rather continue working from home than endure horrible commutes and toxic office cultures, even if they're paid less. Quite a few people realized they were literally working for nothing. There's always an inherent assumption that two salaries are better than one except that's not always true. If the second salary has child care and costs of a second vehicle attached to it, you can easily be in the red. But until the pandemic a lot of people just never ran the numbers. I did it with one of my neighbors. It was literally costing them $50 a week for the wife to work. When I told them that, their 2-week notice was sent immediately. This explains why a lot of lower paying jobs are hard to fill, even if the pay is increased to $15 an hour. That doesn't go very far for child care.

Flexibility is the name of the game now if you want to attract and retain employees. That means offering work from home if it's possible. That's the biggest perk bar none. If not, it means more flexible scheduling, and more people working part-time rather than full-time. The latter is a part of a better work-life balance. People might be willing to work, but not necessarily for 5 days and 40 hours. Employers might need to find 2 or more people to fill what used to be a full-time position. Not the end of the world. If the employees are happy, at least you won't suffer high turnover.
 

jtr1962

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But at the same time attitudes of the average worker sucks these days too.
Often justifiable so. I've been reading about what front-line health care workers are going through. And I'm sure you've seen the stuff on the news with school board members and teachers threatened by parents complaining about mask mandates. How would you like to be these people:


I don't know which is worse. People so clueless and entitled as to order food delivery in the middle of a flood, or workers so desperate that they were working under those conditions. I tell anyone who mentions worker attitudes to do their jobs for a few days. Granted, some workers with good jobs and working conditions have a lousy attitude which isn't justified. But many of the rest got that way after months of abuse by people they serve.
 
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bykfixer

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I have a coworker who came to America from a war torn country. His mental health is stellar during the pandemic. He is an engineer that speaks 7 languages well, and has 3 degrees. Now when he arrived here his credentials meant zero. In his homeland he would be a department head. But over here he is one of my laborers so to speak with the role of field engineer.

The other day he rejected a concrete test and the contractor threatened him with bodily harm. I chuckled and said to the contractor "this guy has tested concrete for the American government while being fired at by snipers with an AK-47, and mortars, I seriously doubt you scare him right now".

He hits "control S" on his laptop every 30 seconds or so since he is used to power suddenly shutting off where he came from. He smiles knowing he has a laptop but does it anyway. He keeps 5 gallons of fresh, clean water with him at all times since he is used to going without it. He played on the national volley ball team and was headed to the Olympics one year when a band of raiders stopped the bus on the way to the airport. They killed a few, captured a few and let the rest go to warn others not to persue national fame.

While in his homeland one of his children had a heart condition nobody in his country could treat. He did not have the money to pay doctors in a nearby country to fix the child and had to "watch his 5 year old child die" a slow death. Over here his youngest has the same condition. Over here the child is getting treatments for the condition.

My point here is while Americans fuss and moan about how tough it is over here with our first world struggles, this guy smiles and thanks his God every day that he lived long enough to see his wife and kids make it to America. The only time I've seen him unhappy was recently when his wife reported her brother had just been murdered back home for driving a catering van for the government while another army was re-taking his home country.
 
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scout24

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Outstanding read, Mr Fixer. Stories like that should be required reading for those who think things are that rough here. Admit it or not, we have been and are living in the time of greatest plenty this world has ever seen. In this country, you have the opportunity to go as far as your aptitude, ambition, and work ethic will take you. That said, not everybody gets to be a NASA scientist. But if you show up, early, sober, dressed to work, do what you're told, and don't spend half the day finger [email protected]#%&*g your phone, you'll be amazed how far you can go. Bored? Grab a broom. Can't find 40 hours? Find a second job. Even the least well off here have it better than 90% of the world's population, and just because you're here in the U.S. doesn't mean anybody owes you anything. I spent a lot of summers cutting grass after work for other people, building decks on weekends, sheetrocking and such during the winters. Not every day, not every weekend, not every year, but when the opportunity was there. Just some side hustle as the kids call it. Just a little extra to try to get ahead.

Pandemic mental health? Doin' as well as can be. Lost my wife's brother in January after a 16 month bout with lung cancer. 50 years old. The fog's starting to lift a bit from that. He lived 20 minutes from us and we took him to appointments regularly, saw him a few times a week. Enjoy every day, find good where you can...
 
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