Lately, a sign has been popping up in front of stores around the country. A jab to the government and to the unemployed, it reads:
“We are short staffed. Please be patient with the staff that did show up. No one wants to work anymore.”
It must be a bout of laziness — people are getting used to government handouts. Why work when the unemployment benefits are enough to live on? Besides, these stores are also working on raising wages and increasing benefits. Why aren’t more people applying if job openings are more plentiful than ever? We’re heading straight into an economic crisis if people don’t start working again. Alas, the easiest thing to do is to point fingers at those who are unemployed: they are indolent, living off others’ hard work.
That’s what they want you to think.
The reality is one in which thousands, if not millions, of Americans hesitate to return to, and for good reason. Spending months cooped up leaves a lot of time to introspect, and over the course of the past year, the signs are showing — signs that change is needed. If someone would rather take government handouts over going back to work, maybe it’s not only the government’s fault. It is true that some people are simply content with loafing around. These stores are trying to paint this minority as the majority. But maybe… just maybe, it has to do with wanting to live. For this sentence — “no one wants to work anymore” — is missing a part at the end.
No one wants to work anymore at a job that pays starvation wages in exchange for their health and well-being. No one wants to work anymore at an unfulfilling job and work to line the pockets of their higher-ups, who will continue to exploit other workers and observe as they waste away their lives.
Workers are humans too, but it looks like companies have a hard time understanding that sometimes. The biggest hurdle is that we are still in a pandemic; though more places are opening back up, we’re still averaging 30,000 cases a day. Plenty of adults still have not received a single dose of the vaccine. And it’s sad that service jobs that barely pay enough to live on have become the norm when it shouldn’t be. They’ve gone excused for long enough: oh, they’re for teenagers and those just starting to look for jobs. Then you realize that chains like Walmart and McDonald’s are some of the largest private employers in America. It can’t be that Walmart solely employs teenagers, can it?
It’s not so much a phenomenon that’s happening across the country, but a longstanding problem that’s finally gaining more traction. The push for livable wages has always been there, harked by politicians and workers alike. With the pandemic’s end on the horizon, now is finally the time for change.