Magazine article Management Review

DESPERATELY Seeking Employees

Magazine article Management Review

DESPERATELY Seeking Employees

Article excerpt

Unemployment is low, and that's good. On the other hand, I can't find a contractor to do some routine work on the house, and that's bad.

The house, to be honest, doesn't look as good as it did a few years ago, but then, as my wife likes to point out, neither do we.

Occasionally, contractors will drop by to "take a look," but they never return. You know they're not coming back when they start talking about "sometime next week." That's the kiss of death.

I wish the conversation were more honest: Contractor: I should be able to do this sometime next week.

Me: In other words, we'll never see you again.

Contractor: I'm afraid not.

I'm not the only one having employ-ment problems. There's trouble at the supermarket too. On my last trip, the cashier picked up my package of soap and sniffed it, as if she were visiting from another planet.

"Why do you use this?" she asked.

I wasn't sure if she was asking about this particular brand or soap in general.

She clarified: Her boyfriend had used the same brand, but then stopped after she became allergic to him. They broke up anyway.

I said I was sorry to hear this, which was true; I really didn't want to hear this.

Things have been going downhill at the supermarket for awhile. Cashiers rou-tinely ask you to help identify various items, especially vegetables. I think they're secretly terrified of the entire pro-duce department.

Cashier (panicked): What's this?

Me: That's an avocado.

Cashier: How much does it cost?

Me: $500.

I don't really say this, but prices do seem arbitrary. An avocado could cost anything. Economists say it's "supply and demand," but they're probably just being polite. "Look, " they're probably thinking, "we have no idea how prices work. Leave us alone already."

I wish more companies would ask me to price things. Take car dealerships.

They could be a lot more flexible.

Me: I'd like a new Toyota Camry.

Dealer: Great choice. How much does a car like that cost?

Me: Let's work out a deal. I'd like it in avocado green, and I'd like to pay for it in avocados.

Speaking of vegetables, USA Today reports that "32 percent of adults say they'd trade places with a farmer, even for just a year."

Maybe that's what people are day-dreaming about at those staff meetings where everyone's distracted: "I could be working with a barnyard full of farm ani-mals right now-and we'd still finish this project faster. …

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