Recently, my wife went to dinner with a friend at one of our favorite restaurants, one we’d been to many, many times over the past 7-8 years. When she got home, I asked her how it was and she replied …
“Well, the food quality was poor and the service was worse.” Needless to say, I was surprised by her response.
But then again, maybe I wasn’t.
It seems so much has slipped in America [and most of the world] the past two years. I won’t bore you with what you already know about the principal driver of this mess. But it does seem, as a country, we’re at a 12-way intersection, none of the lights are working, everybody’s trying to switch lanes, and we innocent pedestrians simply want to reach the other side of this stressful “messful” of yuck.
These roads are named: Inflation, Crime, Politics, Racism, Supply Chain, Immigration, Labor Shortages, Education, Gas Prices, Cancel Culture, MaskNoMask, and VaxxNoVaxx . They’re converging simultaneously, each is gridlocked, and the media reporting on these issues is the equivalent of a cacophony of honking, obnoxious geese.
No wonder so much has slipped.
What do you do?
CHOOSE TO WALK AWAY …
Hand-scribbled signs in restaurant windows plead with guests to Please be kind to those staff members who showed up for work today. Everyday consumers are frustratingly aware of the long stretches of unoccupied grocery shelves. We’ve all gotten the “delivery delay” alerts from Amazon. And filling up your tank means emptying your wallet.
I have certainly not been immune to the challenges we’ve all been facing. My head’s not buried in the sand. I mean, who hasn’t had a less-than-stellar experience whether you’re shopping, dining, traveling or simply pumping gas?
I work in the hospitality industry which has been hit hardest by the circumstances of the last two years. In the past, when an RFP was sent to a hotel, a response was turned right away. But hotels haven’t brought back all the sales reps they furloughed or cut altogether, and many of those folks have migrated to real estate or software sales. As a result, the talent pool is shallower than usual and we have to wait much longer for responses.
Again I ask, “What do you do?”
You walk away. You find another way.
If you look closely enough, you’ll see nearby there’s a quieter, more peaceful way to the other side. It’s the intersection of Civility, Kindness and Resilience. And on the other side, we find Happiness and Hope. And we’ve all got it within reach though there are times when it’s hard to square that reality.
THE AMERICAN WAY …
Corny as it may sound to some, I believe in the American Way of Life. There’s a reason why I left my homeland nearly 30 years ago and later became a U.S. citizen. I wanted to live in America. I wanted to call myself an American. I was drawn to The American Way.
Wikipedia tells us, “The American Way of Life is an ethos that adheres to the principle of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. At the center of the American Way is the belief in an American Dream that is claimed to be achievable by any American through hard work.”
I would add resilience and perseverance to that definition.
Those of us of a certain age have seen challenging, terrible times before. Remember 9-11? The horror of it all? And how it forever robbed us of our sense of security?
Remember the economic collapse of 2008 and the long, protracted recovery, the longest in American history? How it rocked everyone’s world and changed the game? [I remember in the midst of that downturn, a friend asked, “What do you call your realtor these days?” His answer: “Your waiter or waitress.”]
And now, even those are hard to find. I’m sure that’s a big part of why my wife said the service was terrible when she met her friend for dinner.
Look, this is not meant to be a downer, not at all. Quite the opposite,
actually. It’s my intent to reinvigorate your sense of hope and kick-start your
resilient spirit … and show you there is a way to be better than the
circumstances, much better. I believe in you as much as I believe in me. I
believe in all of us.
MOONLIGHTING … OR BOONDOGGLELIGHTING?
Another interesting result of today’s work-from-home flexibility and myriad social issues is the uptick in “moonlighting” or, perhaps more appropriately, “slacking” among some remote workers. A surprising 13% percent of the outta-sight-outta-mind crowd admitted in a recent Fast Company survey they work 10-20 hours per week for another company.
And while hustling a side gig to make a little extra money has always been a “thing”, those working 10-20 hours elsewhere admit it negatively impacts their performance for their primary employer. These are not hourly-wage employees, they’re high-salaried, skilled, educated professionals.
One eyebrow-raising example was a Washington, DC Assistant Principal who somehow worked a second, remote job as a Principal for a school in Providence, RI and didn’t reveal this to either employer. He was eventually exposed and both sides said his duplicity had short-changed students, parents and faculty at both schools. It not only got him fired, authorities are looking into fines and possible jail time for the individual.
An extreme example, yes, but that’s why I say so much seems to have slipped. We act in ways we might not have ever thought of acting before.
NUMBERS DON’T LIE …
While some industries have flourished in these tough times — online retailing, delivery services, and video conferencing, to name a few — virtually everyone has felt the impact at some level or another. And it shows in polling.
A Gallup poll released two weeks ago revealed:
- The “National Satisfaction Reading” [essentially, being content with where we are as a country right now] is a stunningly low 17%, even lower than Congressional job approval [18%].
- In early 2020, prior to the pandemic, a record-high 65% of American adults indicated they were “very satisfied” with their personal lives. By and large, we were happy. That now stands at 51%.
But there’s hope on the horizon.
Another recent poll, this one conducted by Monmouth, showed 70% of those queried said they want things to “get back to normal” ASAP. To me, that’s a clear sign of faith in who we are as individuals and as a nation. That’s an indication we have not given up. It’s a reawakening to the fact America is indeed resilient. We can fall down seven times and stand up eight, as the ancient proverb goes.
In the meantime, while our nation continues to pull itself up by the bootstraps — as we always do – choose to rise above the fray and simply walk away from the yuck. Find a better way and make sure it includes civility, kindness and resilience. Be better than the yuck.
I believe in you … and in us.