Harry's Gang: If only I could take on some jobs during this tight market


June 25, 2021

There's clearly an employee shortage right now. As the pandemic wanes and the economy improves, we're seeing it harder and harder to find people to fill many job openings. Some blame the state and federal unemployment programs, which essentially paid people (mostly lower-end workers) to stay home during the pandemic. It worked, as the toll of the coronavirus was bad enough without it spreading even more through the workforce.

That's not the only cause of the employee shortage. Our country's obsession with immigration has caused a real shortage of low-end workers, meaning we may have kept people from crossing the border into our great country, but now food and gas prices are rising since there are fewer workers to pick our food and transport our gas. The economy is a complicated entity that shouldn't be manipulated with cheap political slogans and phony border walls.

I'd like to help. Every time I see an interesting help-wanted sign, I wish I could take the job, if only for a while.

Take the Beach at Pinehurst Park. They're short on lifeguards. So short, in fact, that my 12-year-old son Patrick, who has been on the swim team since he was 6 and can swim 4 miles without stopping, is required to wear a life jacket while in the pool. I can help! Maybe I could take a few shifts at the pool, watching the kids swim and make sure they stay safe. I could work on my tan, and I hear the money is pretty good, more than minimum wage. I don't have lifeguard experience but with my middle-aged girth I certainly float, and there's nowhere in the pool that's over my head.

Mike's Café & Pizzeria, formerly Eskomo Pizza Pies and owned by a prominent lawyer in town, is closed Sundays because they can't find enough workers. I certainly have the experience, since I'm the one who showed Mike Prachar and his daughter Andrea King, the new owners, how to make the pies in the first place. If I pitched in, maybe I could get a pizza on Sunday again. They just laugh when I offer. Oh, well, I can always go to Southgate Pizza; they're open Sundays and seem to have a full staff.

It's not just pizza. I have cooked in many restaurants in my career, including several of my own. I heard John Johnson needs workers so badly that Family Tradition is closed Mondays until they can get enough staff. Maybe I can handle one shift a week, grilling burgers and making omelets. I wouldn't even let the servers tip me out, either, and I'll bring my own aprons. But my wife says that I'm in "restaurant rehab" for at least a year after selling Eskomo Pies. By then, I bet they will have enough workers.

Maybe she'll let me get a job outside food service. Queen of Peace Church is looking for a full-time maintenance person to clean the church and the school. I'd like that, except I already have a full-time job. Maybe I can sweep up on Sunday afternoons. Having grown up in a small motel, I don't mind cleaning bathrooms, and I promise they'll be spotless when I'm done with them. But I do enjoy my Sunday afternoons with my family.

The Esko schools have some openings. Guidance counselor seems fun; helping kids choose a career path or decide what school to go to would be rewarding. I may have a slight bias towards my own chosen fields, though, so there would probably be an influx of lawyer/restaurateurs in the near future. They want someone with experience, though. They also need kitchen help and bus drivers. I could drive a route in the morning; wash dishes over lunch; and take kids home in the afternoon. That sounds ideal for me. I'd have no time to practice law, though. And I forgot Tara has prohibited me from working in food service again.

Gordy's Warming House would be a fun job, but they seem to be doing OK, which is fine with me. If I worked in an ice cream shop, I'm sure the managers would find me headfirst in an ice cream freezer, legs in the air, gobbling flavors myself until I was stuffed. They couldn't stay in business with me eating all the profits, so maybe I won't apply there. Sounds like a fun job, though. If only I had the time.

Pete Radosevich is the publisher of the Pine Knot News and an attorney in Esko who hosts the cable access talk show Harry's Gang on CAT-7. His opinions are his own. Contact him at [email protected].


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