CLII – I’ve Been a Little Busy

Recently, I have noticed that I haven’t been writing hardly at all—before my 3rd anniversary post a couple days ago, the last one before that went up back on 11 July, and that was my 150th post. After returning from my exhausting trip to Kansas, I returned to work. Though I was scheduled certain days off, I ended up working all but one of them. I was reluctant to go in one particular day, but there was no closing manager scheduled, as that person had recently quit without notice, and the closing grill cook was out sick. Add to that, the scheduled dishwashers called out. So, basically, most of the closing crew did not go in. I went in to work and stayed on the cook line all night, and ended up helping someone else who volunteered to wash dishes, to finish the night.

Long story short, between the shifts I ended up picking up and what I was originally scheduled, I finished that week with some 63 hours, and another 54 for the following week. I’m not scheduled as many this week, but, like several other back-of-house crew, I’m only getting one day off.

Working in a place with a manager transition can become quite tumultuous. There is a lot of stress on the crew, on top of the additional anxiety caused by lack of adequate staffing, causing everything to feel busier at work. Besides this, it seems like someone is quitting nearly every day, and some are talking about it. There appears to be a wage war going on locally, as even fast food places are hiring at $12 – $17 an hour, and the warehouses/distribution centers paying upwards of $21/hour. It used to be that one could blame the lack of applications on additional money per week the federal government was paying (something like $300/week on top of state unemployment benefits). That has since ended, and still people are not applying.

Complicating matters even further is the ever-increasing price of gasoline. Some want to say that this increase is normal, due to summer, and the conversion in California to more-expensive “summer blend” gas. Granted, gas prices historically increase up till Memorial Day, but I’ve noticed that prices have increased sharply since Joe Biden was inaugurated on 20 January. Prior to this date, most stations in my area were charging around $2.29/gallon. Just a week ago, three local stations went up another 10¢ in one day, and have further increased since. A quick look at the GasBuddy app shows that the lowest price in my area is Costco, at $3.45. From there, it increases to around $3.80, and the highest one being an astronomical $4.39. It really says something when the price of gas in the Los Angeles area, which are typically much higher than southern Utah, are comparable, and in some cases cheaper than here. While many LA stations are over $4.00, there are quite a few others that are around what we pay here.

Due to these increase costs, the price of groceries seems to be on the rise, especially for meat. I love a good steak, but it’s getting to where even that is a luxury now. Where I used to pay around $4/lb for a decent sirloin, or $7 for ribeye, now, I’m faced with paying double that. Even the cheapest cuts of beef are hovering at $8/lb, and the good ribeyes have been priced out of my range, approaching $17/lb. I went to one store recently that had a 5/$25 meat sale. The meat that qualified were these bite-sized pieces, 6 oz if you were lucky. These guys have dry-aged beef and other high-end cuts, and my eyes watered when I saw prices in the $20 – $30 range per pound. Of course, that’s nothing compared Costco’s packs of A5 Japanese Wagyu that were being sold for a whopping $100 per pound! The first package I saw had a price tag of $250.00. I’ve heard Wagyu is one of the best steaks in the world due to its higher fat content and amazing marbling. I’ve never tried it, and I am not rich enough to afford it. One thing I do know, however, is that for that price, it better be astounding! Anyone who orders this steak beyond medium-rare should be burned alive at the stake, not unlike seen at the Salem Witch Trials!

And what about this weird weather, huh? Earlier in July, it felt hotter than hell. This last week has been really humid in this normally dry desert climate. The weather in Utah is comparable to Wichita, KS, this week: temperatures in the 90s, humidity in the 50 – 60% range. Muggy and miserable are the two words I would use as descriptors. Rain falls, but too fast for the parched ground, and some floods happen. Over this last weekend, wind created a sandstorm along the freeway up north, causing a 20-car pileup. Lately I’ve been hearing the Emergency Broadcast System (I guess it’s called “Emergency Alert System” now?) playing on the radio more frequently than normal about flood watches in this place or that place. Usually those places are far enough away that I don’t worry about them—I just find the alerts annoying and they interrupt a song I might be enjoying.

Some places around the area are getting a lot of rain quickly, and people post pictures and videos on Facebook with roads turned into streams. Meanwhile, I sit in my house and look outside. I hear thunder and see lightning, but there’s nary a drop of rain on the ground. There’s been enough rain to make my car windshield spotty and dirty, but that’s about it. I know we need the rain, we’re in a drought, after all. We can use the rain, but not all at one time! We’d need slow, steady rain for several days, stop and dry out, then resume again. Lake and reservoir levels are getting lower every day, and the weather seems to get drier and drier every year. We need like several feet of snow to stay in the mountains this winter to even make a dent in the drought. Some want to blame “climate change” and dismiss everything as human-caused. Maybe people have had something to do with it, but climate runs in cycles over the grand scheme of things. The Earth has been through warm periods and ice ages before. Maybe we’re on the cusp of a warming period, but we think it’s the end of the world, since we weren’t there the last time it happened. To paraphrase Bill Maher, “they think it doesn’t count because they weren’t alive when it happened.”

Seriously, folks. It seems that the powers-that-be, the real bigwigs behind the scenes, are so hell-bent on eliminating fossil fuels, not by people voluntarily giving up their cars, but making the damned gasoline so expensive that no one can afford it. It also appears that someone out there wants everyone to eat plant-based crap and eliminate red meat, because that is getting extremely pricey, as well. Maybe it’s the conspiracy theorist in me, but that is my perception.

Whatever the case may be, I just know that the price of everything is increasing faster than wages. Minimum wage has been the same for 12 years, but the price of everything else has sure gone up. Have you noticed the same thing? Are you struggling? Do you think everything is the fault of humanity?

Please don’t bake to death or drown in the flooded streets. It would seem that the ancient Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” is certainly holding true presently. Don’t be cursed. Enjoy your upcoming week; after all, a new month is dawning. Soon, children will be returning to school. Enjoy the time with your loved ones, don’t waste a moment to tell them you love them. May you have peace and prosperity, and always remember to be safe and be well.

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