By Sue Murphy
The cheery automated voice at the airline phone center thanked me for my patronage, then said that, happily, my wait time would be less than two hours. Two hours. It reminded me that I could handle many of my air travel needs on their handy dandy website, but I was hoping to pay with an e-ticket/loyalty points combination, and I didn’t have a clue how to proceed. I needed the assistance of an actual human being and, allegedly, a knowledgeable individual would be happy to oblige … in less than two hours.
To me, a two-hour wait time is a clear indication that you do not have enough workers in place, but it may not be the airline’s fault. “Help Wanted” signs have popped up everywhere. They need help at the bakery and the carwash and every fast-food establishment in existence. Some businesses are trying to sweeten their employment deal by offering signing bonuses or college tuition or, at the very least, free Wi-Fi. Gov. Ivey added a stick to this carrot and cut off extra unemployment benefits. The message from all corners is clear: We need help.
This help can’t come soon enough. Poor Ms. Barbara at the Post Office is doing the work of three people and, while she couldn’t be nicer, the office behind her is in disarray, so much so that the chronic organizer in me wanted to jump the counter and say, “Here, let me help.” I didn’t, or else you’d be receiving this post from my room in some federal penitentiary, but just the same, I was ready and willing to pitch in.
I fought the same urge at the deli, where one harried worker was trying to take orders, make sandwiches and haul the trash out to the curb all by herself, a veritable one-woman sandwich show. I felt a little guilty just standing there. OK, more than a little guilty, I mean, spreading butter on bread is within my skill set and I was doing nothing.
When my children were small, I could only avail myself of the church nursery if I took a turn being a nursery worker. Maybe getting sandwiches should only be open to people who volunteer to work behind the counter once a week.
We could set up a volunteer business auxiliary, you know, a listing of people who would be happy to fill in for a shift here and there just to keep the wheels of commerce running. Besides buttering bread, I am good at cleaning and organizing. (I had two teenage daughters who, unaided, would have lived in rooms unfit for human habitation.) I’d be less helpful at lifting heavy objects or fixing computers or driving a stick shift, so the auxiliary would have to place me accordingly.
Of course, it would be far better to fill the slots with dedicated full timers, so if you are seeking legitimate paid employment, jump in! Right now, the world is your oyster. As a side note, if you currently work for one of those scam call lines or spend your days hacking into U.S. infrastructure, take this opportunity to avoid prosecution and upgrade your moral status. Really, it would be a win/win.
I think I’ve proven that I wouldn’t be all that helpful behind the airline help desk, so I’m hoping somebody out there will fill that slot, and soon. I won’t showcase my bread-buttering talents at the deli just yet, either, but if the Business Auxiliary Team (BAT) signal shines forth over Vulcan, I’m on my way.