Gen X Shock

My mind is still reeling from how weirdly easy it was to find a job. I was hired 58 hours after I applied online. To say, “This is new,” would be a severe understatement.

I am part of Generation X. Before we were Gen X, we were referred to as “Baby Busters.” When I was growing up, school districts were shrinking because our parents didn’t have enough of us to keep things up and running at full capacity.

My generation is one of economic cynicism. I watched my brothers, the tail end of the Baby Boomers, get one good job after another, only to watch those companies go belly-up. They would not get laid off; the companies they worked for stopped existing. It was awful. In the balance of workers and work needing to get done, competition was tough and there was seldom enough work to keep everyone busy and so down-sizing was common, if a company was lucky enough to make it at all.

Even in 2018, looking for a job was hard because there were so many temp jobs that paid $15/hour but only offered 10 hours/week. I felt lucky to get a real permanent job at Goodwill.

Then the pandemic hit. I do not believe that the pandemic created anything new, but it hastened trends and processes that were already underway. The Baby Boomers were retiring for a couple decades slowly. Imagine you are 60 years old and a public school teacher. Maybe you are not in the greatest health. You have some pre-existing conditions, perhaps diabetes or COPD. The kids come in without masks because their non-science-believing parents won’t let them wear them. You are not willing to risk your health for these moron parents. It is called “early retirement.” No debate. You don’t want to get sick and die. Maybe you lost a parent to COVID. There is no willingness to risk illness and death for Trumpers. Let natural selection do its thing.

My brothers, the last of the Boomers are all retiring or dead. Is it “retiring” when you have a zero percent chance of ever passing another company physical?

The Boomers were the largest American generation ever until the Millennials came along. They are retiring and taking all their experience and skills with them.

We’ve all heard of the “Great Resignation of 2021.” However, it continues. People of all ages are quitting their jobs. The young people are looking for better jobs. The older workers are out of the labor pool completely. I am in the middle generation, stunned at all the changes.

I am watching businesses close their doors because they don’t have enough workers to stay open. They may have a great product or service and a fabulous customer base, but it matters not. The only thing that does matter is that there are no workers to provide the product or service. The minimum wage is not the issue. Wages have been going up.

I don’t see the Goodwill store surviving another year. They pay minimum wage, offer no raises, reward the poor employees, and punish the hard workers. They will continue to hemorrhage good workers. Nobody is lining up to do the work for peanuts. There will always be donors. There will always be customers. But without workers, so what? The street-side sign will be taken down and people will wonder what happened.

I am overwhelmed at Burlington already. There is so much more work than workers to do it that I cannot fathom the situation. I am approaching it with a simple willingness to do whatever they ask. I am not perfect, but I will work hard. And the job pays more than minimum wage. The store is huge. It is an old K-Mart. There is a lot of empty space. To fill the space would require twice or thrice the employees. I look at the store and say, “Holy crap.”

The old rules do not apply. I’m not sure anyone knows what the new rules are.

About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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