THE SUBSTITUTE

Where did everyone go?  I went to the pharmacy the other day to pick up the Prozac the doctor prescribed for my depression caused by the USA losing to The Netherlands at the World Cup.

I stepped up only to see my friend, Jim, working the counter. “Jim, what are you doing?” I asked.  He told me they were looking for someone who was able to communicate with people and smile a lot. He said that once he told them he could do that, he was hired on the spot. He added all he had to do was memorize the sentence, ‘We’ll be with you shortly.’ I shook my head and asked him if my Prozac was ready. He then asked me, “What’s that? Does it come in like one of those little bottles?”

Oh, Jesus…where did the qualified people go. It seems like every store we go into now has people who are clearly not qualified to do the job. I realize that the pandemic gave many a chance to re-think their current positions and explore more enjoyable options than punching a time clock as well as an occasional co-worker, but c’mon people.

Forget the fact that trying to reach a business on the phone has long since disappeared, can we really trust someone like Jim, whose last job was Popcorn Popper at Marvin’s Movie Arcade to be passing out prescribed medication to the public?

I was in the bank not long ago and barely recognized the place. The tellers that I had come to know and appreciate and who were always there with a smile and a lollipop were nowhere to be found. I asked for a checking account withdrawal slip and the young man with earspools approximately the size of truck tires and a neck tattoo that read, ‘Dragon,’ said, ‘Sure. Do you know what one looks like?’

Hey, let’s step inside the supermarket. Do you recognize anything? Let me help you out. Eight cashier stations, six of which are closed, leaving a total of two open, one of which has a cashier who is currently on ‘break.’ You can tell they were just yanked off the street because they still have their coats on and the look on their faces was one of someone who just emerged from a six-year coma. What happened, people?  Did you all leave for ‘greener pastures’ during the pandemic? Well, congratulations. As a result, our pastures are now nothing but a brown, brittle, dried-out tinderbox.

We need you back. This is a blemish on our entire country.  Nobody’s where they should be. We, as card-carrying American consumers demand better. The world is crumbling in front of our very eyes. To help entice employers from all service areas to do the right thing and bring back the old guard, the Society for Consumers Against Replacements (S.C.A.R.) is prepared to offer a handsome stipend. In addition to receiving a grainy 5×7 photo of the person you helped bring back into the fold, you will also receive a shiny 2022 penny glued to the cover letter as a display of our undying gratitude.

The world must return to some semblance of normalcy and we all must get involved because, as I write this, Jim, over at the pharmacy is handing a very confused customer a bottle of  Pedialyte for foot fungus!

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