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.