Next time you’re in a restaurant and the service is slow, try not to be a jerk by demanding a personal audience with the owner or manager so you can recount the harrowing tale of how long you have waited for someone to take your drink order.

Maybe you haven’t heard, but there is a shortage of workers afoot in the land of plenty and it has hit the restaurant and retail sectors particularly hard.

Even the Chagrin Falls “bubble” is not impervious to this new strain of trouble. There are stories of stores open fewer hours and restaurants resorting to minimalist menus for lack of staff.

And what a downer for shopkeepers and restaurant owners who survived the pandemic only to emerge from it to find a “hiring crisis” staring them in the face.

Why the disappearing act? Where have all the service workers gone? The pandemic is in lull mode now so you would think people would be eager to get back to work. But this is not the case and every expert has a different opinion why.

Theory one: Workers have chosen to live off their “COVID-19 benefits” while they last. It has been a tough year, its summer and the surf’s up. The workforce is out there but not quite ready to return to the grind.

Theory two: Pandemic down time has given folks time to rethink their lives and they are deciding to find better paying jobs. Ones where they can work sitting down and choosing wider butts over aching feet.

Some have decided to go back to school and learn a trade, skill or advanced degree that does not put them in the crosshairs of abusive customers, demanding diners and employers have control over their hours and work schedule.

Theory three: Termed the hundredth monkey effect, it is described as a “hypothetical phenomenon in which a new idea is spread rapidly by unexplained means from one group to all related groups once a critical number of members of one group acknowledges the new idea.”

This scenario has hourly and tip workers realizing they are worth more than they are paid and simultaneously adopt a new behavior of holding back their services until retail and restaurant industries have their own hundredth monkey epiphany and value workers commensurate with their contributions to the bottom line.

This natural cause and effect establishes what labor unions and increased minimum wage champions failed to accomplish through established practices.

For years employers have gotten away with adding perks in place of pay. Some restaurants offer workers free meals as compensation and discounts have been given to store employees for decades.

Instead of the dignity of better pay and benefits the retail and restaurant industries hired a branding company which came up with the idea of glorifying the work of these essential workers by calling them “associates” as if they had a seat at the table or a vote in the board room.

Long gone is the notion that sales and restaurant workers don’t need full-time work or living wages because they are first employment experiences for kids working summers or after school.

More adults are called on to make these jobs their full-time work because kids are no longer expected to work until they are out of college and have their choice of careers with a six figure annual income.

Not all but a large part of the retail and restaurant businesses are working off that old model and the belief system entrenched in the idea hourly and/or work for tips jobs are for kids. Or that they provide a second income or a source of disposable income.

Next time you are in a restaurant or store where the service is slow be patient and remember no one ever died of starvation in a restaurant or perished from the lack of retail therapy.

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