In My Own Shoes: No Hiring Problem, Just Hire These People | Guest columns

We’ve been seeing all the signs for months, everywhere we go.

Whether it’s a gas station, a restaurant, a foundry or a shop, everyone is looking for help. Every business seems to suffer from a lack of employees, especially reliable employees. I wanted to wait until after the primary election because everyone who ran had a promise, a plea and a plan as they ruthlessly hounded your vote. I also have a plan, a plan for the gas station, the restaurant, the foundry, the shop and all the other businesses that are suffering. Engage the disabled! Hire seniors! Hire people who don’t “look” like the part, and you’ll be rewarded with loyalty, intelligence, and people who can and will deliver great customer service, because it’s their job to do it, and that means everything to them.

All the restaurants I’ve been frequenting lately have employees who all look alike. The service staff are mostly nubile young women, many of whom recite their litany of “Hi. I am Cassidy. I’ll take care of you tonight. Can I start with a drink? In many cases, if you’re going to the restaurant tomorrow, you might not see Cassidy because she didn’t like the job and quit or had a fight with her boyfriend and was “too upset to come.” work,” or maybe Ed Sheeran concert tickets were on sale, and she wanted to get a good seat in line. The business owner then has two choices: he or she can fire them and hear, “That’s not fair!” or they can put up with it because they’re understaffed, and it’ll probably happen again and again. Two weeks ago I went to the newest restaurant in town and sat at the bar. It was late afternoon, and they weren’t busy. The young bartender didn’t greet me, just took my order, delivered it and never once smiled. Maybe he was last in line and never got tickets to Sheeran.

Kudos to the big box stores that hire the mentally handicapped, the visibly handicapped and the elderly. It’s refreshing to see them, they show up every day and take pride in doing their job. They smile when you walk through the door and thank you when you leave. If they can, and it’s part of their job, they’ll go out of their way to help you, find what you need, and make sure you’re happy. Just because they don’t have tattoos and rings hanging from each nostril doesn’t mean you have to be too hard on them.

Seniors who are strong, healthy, bored to death and looking to earn a few extra bucks are also a great option for your business. On the one hand, they will come every day, probably even a few minutes BEFORE the start of their shift. When it’s raining, they’ll take an umbrella and still be there, and they won’t be hanging around the break room with their phone. Plus, if they tell you they can handle it, believe them! If they can’t, it will first become too obvious to them, and then adjustments may need to be made. But just because they have gray hair or walk a little slower doesn’t mean they aren’t competent for the job. Unless you’re running a circus and someone over 70 has applied for the tightrope, trust these people’s instincts, they’re almost always perfect. Karl Wallenda, of the famous “Flying Wallendas” daredevil family, successfully crossed a cable through the Tallulah River Gorge in Georgia at the age of 65, making two more headstands. Still, there are local restaurants in Westerly that I know for a fact may not have hired him because of his age (of course they can’t explain why, but it’s painfully obvious ).

Old people have good brains, good manners and are ethical. They also have a lot of life experience, and it’s the best path I can think of for just about any job, except maybe brain surgery or walking on a tightrope.

Yes, we’ve been seeing all the signs for months everywhere we go, and not much has changed. Business owners always complain about being understaffed. Maybe the problem is that they are unaware or afraid to take a chance on what might just be the cheapest.

Go tell them!

Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 21 years, including her “In Their Shoes” articles. She can be reached at [email protected] or 401-539-7762.

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