We are three years into life with COVID/pandemic/new normal and companies are still having a hard time hiring staff. Last year I wrote this post about the restaurant industry, and the hit they were taking financially because they couldn’t hire people to work, so they couldn’t fill table, therefore they couldn’t make money.
This is crazy to me.
I know this isn’t affecting every industry, but it feels like it’s affecting most of them. Yesterday afternoon we took Little Mister to his annual physical. We arrived on time, and had to wait until there was a free nurse to take his vitals, etc. There was someone ahead of us who WAS NOT HAPPY waiting. She was so rude and condescending to the nurse behind the window who was calmly explaining that they were short staffed. Ms. Rude wasn’t having it and continued to make snide remarks. When we were called into a room finally – ahead of Ms. Rude, thank you very much – the nurse said to us, loudly in the direction of the Rude Family in the waiting room, “Thank you so much for being nice and patient we are doing out best!”
One place where we are seeing the biggest impact of unfilled jobs is with the school buses. Every day we get an email that this bus or that bus isn’t going to be running, and that’s it’s going to be combined with another bus. They cannot hire bus drivers. I’m not making light of a bus driver’s job: it is hard, and thankless; driving kids around and being responsible for their safety…that is a big responsibility.
And when these buses don’t run, and other buses pick up the slack, it throws off the whole morning. The kids are on the bus longer while they take up an extra route, they are late to school, and the bus drivers are irritable. One day, one of the bus routes from our elementary school wasn’t going to run so they were combined with a bus from another elementary school. And then the kids from our school had to do their entire route, drop the kids at the other school and then drove across town to be dropped at our school. So…they likely got to school around lunchtime.
As a parent, you take a big leap of faith putting your child on the school bus. Last year, we drove Little Mister to school and picked him up (between the first year in the school and COVID, we weren’t ready to commit to the bus yet). But the time commitment for that was not sustainable for another year. So this year, Little Mister took the bus. I was certain that I would be riding the bus the first day with our very shy child, but he surprised us both by walking right onto the bus. He didn’t even wave goodbye.
After a few days on the bus, Little Mister informed us that the bus took too long, he spent too much time on it, and basically he gave it a rating of 0/5 stars. “I’d prefer it if you drove me and picked me up from school.”
Oh, really? Let’s not get into the things I’d prefer in this life.
Little Mister is a shy kid, who won’t go out of his way to talk to new people. So I imagine the bus ride was long and quiet for him. After a few weeks, he discovered that the time would go by faster if he was reading, so now he reads both ways on the bus. And there are no complaints from this parent. Choosing to read? Yes, please!
Our bus is on the tamer side, but I’ve heard some buses are loud and crazy. I can’t even imagine having to drive a bus with 30 screaming kids on it. So I understand why we are missing so many bus drivers…no one wants the job. But on the other hand…someone needs to take the job!
Case in point: today, the bus came 10 minutes early. Ten minutes is a lot of time in the morning, it could be the difference between shower or no shower, breakfast or no breakfast, pants or no pants. Thankfully the bus driver saw Mr. KK and Little Mister in the driveway – and then running down the driveway – and stopped to wait. Because she never stops to wait, even when she’s early. Today she was early because she was trying to squeeze in an additional bus route because one bus wasn’t running at all.
Then, the last 2 days have been half days and the bus was 25 minutes late dropping off Little Mister. The first day it happened, I was starting to get nervous. I was running through a bunch of scenarios in my head – none of them good, mind you – and cursing myself for not having Little Mister memorize my phone number. It didn’t help that the town was picking up the leaves on the curb that day, and were stopped right in front of my house. So I’m standing there, the guy with the blower is literally blowing leaves around me while the machine picked up the piles. Finally I couldn’t take it any longer and I called the school. I knew the secretary would know what was going on. Except a man’s voice answered. The principal! What was he doing answering the phone?
I should have introduced myself as “crazy mom” or “worry wart” because he assured me that the bus did leave a few minutes late (more like 20) and that he was on his way home.
Thankfully he arrived home safely – if not a little annoyed. (Same for me; I was annoyed. I spent 40 minutes of my work day standing at the end of the driveway! I don’t have that kind of time! I thankfully work from home. What about the parents who go to the office every day – these crazy bus schedules have got to be messing with their productivity!
We are powering through, because the bus affords us less time in the car, and less time away from work. Also, it allows us to avoid the pick up line. If you ever want to get back at someone who has wronged you, send them to the parent pick up line to get your kid for a week. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Bottom line: if you need a job, please apply to be a bus driver. If you retired early and are looking for a few hours of work a day, please apply to be a bus driver!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to shop for the best holiday gift ever for our bus driver to show our appreciation.