It was an odd experience in a tourist town, not being able to find anywhere to eat.

All the sit down and be waited on places had hour and a half to two hour waits and all the fast food restaurants had closed lobbies and 17 cars lined up at the drive thru.

Even more puzzling, and irritating, was the sit down restaurants all were ½ to ¾ empty. But each smiling hostess said there was a long wait, even though it was after 8 p.m. Aside from TV shows and movies, who eats dinner at 10 p.m.?

There was one reason for this and one reason only. Not enough workers to go around. Now, you can puff out your chest and get all righteous, saying people are just too blamed lazy to work nowadays.

Or you can say the pandemic showed people that $10 an hour to get abused by entitled customers is not the way to go and there are definitely better ways to make a living.

You’d be right in both directions. There have always been people too lazy to work and with $16 an hour factory jobs begging for workers, there are better ways to make a living, though both restaurant work and factory work can be soul deadening if you don’t have the right personality for them.

Not all of the restaurants short of workers had signs advertising pay, but one fast food place did list starting pay at $14 an hour. I’ve never worked fast food, and don’t ever plan on it at this late stage of life, but $14 an hour seems like more than such places have ever offered. Yet, their lobby was dark and closed up tight.

A lot of people are claiming nobody wants to work because of unemployment and I’m sure that’s true of some. When that extra $300 a week runs out, they say, we’ll see all these jobs get gobbled up.

Maybe, but maybe not. There are two industries that have always had their pick of people who are willing to work for little while being treated like they’re completely useless by employers (and some customers). The restaurant and manufacturing industries.

It’s true that in recent years some factories have started to ease the low pay portion of their industry, but $15 an hour, before taxes, isn’t even $32,000 a year based on a 40 hour week. People who have “made it” wouldn’t even get out of bed for $15 an hour.

Most factories could easily raise pay to $20 an hour or more and everybody would still make a nice profit. The restaurant industry, on the other hand, is a little more complicated.

People who have tried to start a sit down restaurant will tell you, even if it’s one with a national chain’s backing, they operate on a razor thin profit margin. You can find abandoned restaurant buildings everywhere if you pay attention.

Fast food places, on the other hand, bring in obscene profits and refuse to share it with anybody. A study showed McDonald’s could raise everybody’s pay to at least $20 an hour and their yearly profit would go from something like $14 billion a year to $13.2 billion a year.

So, why don’t they? Why not upgrade the lives of their employees, create a better work environment and give you the hope that the employee cooking your food is happy enough to not sneeze on your food?

So, why don’t they? he asked again. Who knows. Greed is the most obvious answer. They like that $14 billion and in order to keep it, the price of a burger would need to go up 50 cents and surveys have shown customers like a $1 menu, not a $1.50 menu, thank you very much.

I’ll admit I don’t like seeing the price of something I buy on a regular basis go up, even if it is just a few cents. But as the old saying goes, everything but my paycheck is going up.

The cost of everything has pretty much gone through the roof. I’m old enough to remember when $80 a month could rent you a house. I haven’t rented in years, but even I know most rents today could pay two small home mortgages. But we all need somewhere to live, so people pay what they must.

An interesting statistic I once read. If the minimum wage in 1969 had kept pace with inflation, the minimum wage today would be $32 an hour. I know, a fast food burger would cost $25 and people would be dirt poor at $32 an hour.

But it would be a million times better than $7.50, or even $10 an hour, and maybe people are starting to realize that.

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