Grim's Tales: The worker shortage is our own fault
I think most people know I've been working a second job for several years now to make ends meet.
Through my second job I became aware of something odd. There just aren't as many kids working in kitchens as there were when I was a student.
I worked at the Backus Corner Store for many years while in school, and during that time high school students worked as serving staff, dishwasher and in the kitchen. Only the head cooks, daytime dishwasher and a few servers were adults.
The absence of high school students working at the restaurant where I most recently worked almost certainly demonstrates a big factor in local restaurant worker shortages. At that restaurant, almost all employees were adults; and not every adult is willing to be a dishwasher or a fry cook, probably for the same reasons students are avoiding those jobs.
When I was in high school, some students had jobs that paid significantly higher wages than I was making. If I didn't live on the same road as the Corner Store, I may have wound up in a very different job just for the pay alone. There are other incentives to avoiding such work.
Say what you will, but entry level jobs like dishwasher, server, cook and cashier are not walks in the park, mentally speaking. If you just scoffed at that sentence, you may have proven my point.
There is a stigma behind these jobs. There are plenty of posts on Facebook about the perceived "incompetence, laziness and lack of skill" in the people who work these types of jobs. Find any post on Facebook where someone even hints at an increased minimum wage and you will find an abundance of people telling stories about why the people in these jobs don't deserve more than the absolute minimum.
Why would anyone want to work in a job where people look down on you like that? I'm not even talking about the wages.
The adults of the world today are raising children who think these jobs are below them. In a world where everyone acts like only incompetent, worthless people work in retail or food service, children will inevitably steer clear of jobs that their parents taught them were worthless, especially if those jobs don't pay much.
I continue to work in those jobs to pay for my house. The level of disrespect and rudeness that some of these people face is astounding. You can say all you want about whether these people are "essential," but the continued demand at local stores and restaurants means that yes, these people are important.
Like going to the local grocery store? Then the stock boy is important to you. Are you always eating out because of a busy work schedule? Then the fry cook you look down on at McDonald's or your local restaurant is important to your daily routine.
These places exist because of demand, and that gives those positions value. In spite of that fact, the people frequenting these same types of establishments will harass, insult and look down on the people who make those businesses work on a regular basis.
If we want people to fill these positions, the first step is to stop treating these employees as subhuman. Even if you don't support an increase in wages, there is still no real excuse to continue to act like the people who fill these positions are somehow below us.
If people continue to act like these jobs are not worth doing, the people who notice will not want to do those jobs.