A Worrisome Trend

Published 9:24 am Wednesday, August 17, 2022

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A friend of mine who lives in Birmingham told me the following story that emphasizes a most worrisome trend in our nation. It involves a business that could not provide the kind of public service that most of us remember.

Most of us are familiar with the restaurant chain known as Panera Bread. It serves a combination of pastries, sandwiches, soups, and coffees. We don’t have a Panera Bread business in Bainbridge, but most cities a little larger have one or two.

It takes about ten workers to staff the business for a shift. There are three who are ready to take your order, three who prepare your order, two or three who are behind the scenes baking the bread, one working the drive-thru window, and a manager to oversee the employees.

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After his Friday morning Bible Study adjourned, my friend was leaving the Panera Bread establishment when he noticed an employee moving his car to block the drive-thru. Wayne asked, “Do you always block the drive-thru from customers who want that convenience?”

The employee answered, “No, but only three employees showed up today.”

I have a similar story of a personal and local nature. At a business that I use (won’t name the business), I noticed that the drive-thru feature that is most convenient to me had been closed for an extended time. I walked in and did my business and they were very friendly.

I asked, “Why aren’t the drive-thru lanes open?” The answer was the same, “We just don’t have the employees to staff it.”

It doesn’t matter what town these days. The windows or signs of just about every business has a “We Are Hiring” notice and they have been there for a while. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that we have close to 11 million jobs available in our nation.

To paraphrase the George Jones’ country song “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” I would say, “Who’s Gonna Fill Those Jobs?”

Off the top of my head, I think I can figure out one aspect of the problem. The Baby-Boomer generation is beginning to reach the age when retirement has come. The Boomers were those born between 1946 and 1964 and their numbers reached 76 million and their influence on the prosperity of the United States has been monumental.

I’m a part of the Boomer generation and, for the most part, we were taught by our parents that getting a job was one of life’s most consequential necessities. Also, the initial job wasn’t as important as the mere fact that you were doing something.

Menial tasks were not frowned upon. In my case, it was easy to find work. I grew up on a farm and there was always something to do. At the same time, my friends in town also had jobs. Their work might have been in the local grocery stores or summer jobs in construction. Anything to bring in some pocket change for the weekend. They learned that money did not grow on trees.

If the Boomer generation failed at anything, it might have been their reluctance to create a work ethic in their children. The nation was prosperous and there was no such thing as a pandemic.
Another thing that might be really important. There was no “free” money or free rides. It was expected that automobiles or cell phones were to be earned and not simply given.

The worrisome trend of too many jobs going unfilled is real. Just ask any business owner. It’s also a crippling trend for a nation. The United States became the greatest nation in the world because it worked harder than any other nation. That has changed and it’s too bad.