Where’s Our Workforce?

Do you remember those days, a few years ago, when you could go to just about any restaurant and receive good food and sometimes great service? You do remember-it was before something called Covid came along and changed our lives forever.

I remember it well, sitting in restaurants or bars with friends, joking about a virus invented in China but named after a beer in Mexico. How we made fun of it, but nervously whispered about cancelled travel plans and government overreaction.

Then people started dying and those of us abroad had to go home, for fear of being stranded forever with no way to escape the chaos. And so we all went home, hunkered down, quarantined and avoided human contact with anyone outside our personal bubble.

Fast forward three years, to a time where Covid is scoffed at because we have vaccinations and boosters and masks, and have learned to socially distance ourselves. Some of us got tired of ordering food and groceries in and have ventured out into the apocalyptic world to see what’s left of it.

We were happy that some of our favorite restaurants weathered the storm but sad that others couldn’t survive and had to lock their doors. It was so nice to breathe and talk to people without a face mask muffling your voice and causing more pimples than you had as a teenager.

Restaurants re-opened and welcomed us back, but only on certain days of the week. They had difficulty getting their staff back or hiring new people to replace them. The newbies had to be trained, thus taxing our patience after waiting three years.

Cathryn and I formed a new habit, checking web sites of our favorite restaurants before we ventured out. More than once we drove to dinner only to find the doors locked. I hate searching for food when I’m hangry. And when we finally took refuge in one of our favorite breakfast or dinner spots, the service was terrible.

Every restaurant has good and bad days so we shrugged it off at first. But we travelled to Europe last summer and found the same problem, restaurants with limited hours and staff shortages. We spoke to owners who shared their frustrations, many with ‘help wanted’ signs posted in their windows.

So my question is, where the hell did the workforce go? They didn’t all retire and couldn’t have left the country because everyone’s having the same problem everywhere. One theory I’ve heard is that nobody can afford to work for such low wages anymore. If that’s the case then how are they surviving? Government subsidies ran out long ago.

We’re now in Mexico, finding the same problem. And it’s not that people don’t need the work. Restaurants are stocked with young and inexperienced employees who are more interested in their electronic devices than another hungry human being. Is it just me or does the new generation seem inept and disinterested in working for a living?

Hopefully everything works out and I can enjoy a meal without having to text the server to get their attention. Time will only tell.

85 Grams – Art Williams: Drug Czar

85 Grams: Art Williams: Drug Czar
by Daryl Ashby

Edmond Gagnon‘s review

Jan 04, 2023 

Being a retired police officer who spent five years in narcotics, some of that time working with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, I found this book interesting and somewhat comical at times. The story takes place a few years before I was a Narc, but the good guys vs the bad guys scenario that played out in the plot rang very true to me.
Granted, most of the drug dealers I had contact with where nowhere near as smart and cunning as Art Williams, the Mounties main target. I was blown awaybyt the lengths he went to stay under the radar, yet taunt the police at the same time. It was like he was always one step ahead of them.
The story contains personal accounts from various people who knew Art Williams before he ‘disappeared’ under mysterious circumstances.
I don’t want to give away the whole story but can easily recommend this book as and entertaining read.

Camino Winds – John Grisham

Camino Winds (Camino Island, #2)

John Grisham (Goodreads Author)

Edmond Gagnon‘s review Nov 08, 2022  

As far as I’m concerned, this novel doesn’t live up to Grisham standards. It was a slow starter and not what I’d call a page turner. But if you’re looking for a book that you can pick up and put down every other day or so, Camino Winds is a decent story.


The plot tries to accelerate and get you to the conclusion quickly but falls short and is more of a police procedural, with average citizens taking on investigative rolls, while trying to solve their friend’s murder.


The story combines the fury of a level 4 hurricane with the curiosity of a local group of authors and a book store owner. Use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

Local Authors Christmas Show

Mark your calendars and put this event on your Christmas shopping list. Don’t miss your chance to meet some of the many talented authors in our area and get a personally autographed book. Perfect Christmas gifts or stocking stuffers for any readers you’re looking to buy for. I’ll be joining my fellow authors at this event and will have all my titles available.

Admission is free. Early shoppers will be rewarded with free gifts, and there will be hundreds of gently used books to buy for a dollar, with proceeds going to charity.

A Measure of Darkness – John & Jesse Kellerman

A Measure of Darkness (Clay Edison, #2)
by Jonathan Kellerman, Jesse Kellerman

Edmond Gagnon‘s review, Oct 03, 2022  

I gave up reading this novel after 220 pages but I should’ve stopped way earlier. Nothing was happening and I didn’t see a satisfactory ending in sight.
I’ve read Jonathan Kellerman before and like his Alex Delaware character, who gets a phone cameo in this yarn. Maybe it’s just this story but I found the Clay Edison character a bore. Even his job as a Deputy Sheriff who’s main job was to discover the identity of murder victims. Boring.
The story started with a bang and several murders which seemed like plot would blast off from there, but then it fell flat as Edison spends hours searching the internet and making phone calls to track down a murder victim’s identity. I didn’t quite get all that and I’m a retired cop.
Maybe it all comes together at the end and he actually helps solve the murder case. Guess I’ll never know. I can live with that.

The Pepper Cat Restaurant

We finally made it to the Pepper Cat Restaurant in Amherstburg and it was well worth the long trek from Windsor. Formerly the Beacon Ale House, you have to try this new restaurant. It’s advertised as upscale dining but the prices were not ridiculous.

Our visit was in the late afternoon for kind of a late lunch or early dinner so we decided to sample their appetizer menu. We leaned heavy on seafood with the mussels, done in a white wine and garlic sauce – with lots of juice that was great to soak up with their focaccia bread – perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

We ordered everything at once for a real smorgasbord – escargot that came with perfectly melted and gooey cheese on top. And their crab cakes, a decent size and lightly breaded. A special treat was the grilled octopus, something that is normally difficult to cook, but it was done perfectly – tender inside and char-grilled on the outside.

The spread filled up three of us and was all washed down with local craft beers that they have on tap. We had a gift card that halved our bill but found their appie prices were in line with other restaurants, and the portions were sizeable. The size of the octopus leg had us wondering how big the monster was before we ate it.

We had a friend in from Cambodia who loves seafood, and he was delighted by the food and liquid sampling. The chairs were super comfortable and the service was great. The chef even visited our table at our request. Cathryn and I highly recommend the Pepper Cat and rate it a 10 out of 10.

The Millionaire Murders by Edmond Gagnon

Long time fan Michael Carter travelled all the way from Cambodia to snag a copy of my latest novel.

Halloween is coming but the Millionaire Murders will be here first. The official release for my latest novel in the Abigail Brown Crime Series is October 1st – you can pre-order online, as a few of my devout fans already have (Thank you!).

This story is set in Detroit, where a new and unusual serial killer preys on Detroit’s elite, challenging Major Crimes Detective Abigail Brown as she never has before.

My first bulk order is being printed as I write this post. I hope to have paperback copies available in Story Tellers in Windsor and River Books in Amherstburg by October 1st.

I’m also working on putting together a local authors Christmas show, showcasing literary talent from across Essex County, giving readers a chance to meet the authors and purchase personally autographed copies of their work. Watch my social media sites for further information. I can tell you now it will be on Sunday, December 11th, so keep the date open.