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Help wanted on the Oregon Coast

Have you driven I-5 lately? And lived to tell the tale? I’m still in a sweat over the last road race home from what was imagined as a peaceful escape from the heat.

Lane and I delivered new artwork to Earthworks Gallery in Yachats on the coast, which was crawling with tourists. Every coastal town crawls with vacationers these hot days. Great for art sales, maybe not so great for getting a table in a restaurant, but all hands on deck were doing their best.

You’d have thought the entire population of the Western world had been locked up for over a year or something. Now we have a new problem — not enough help. Folks seemed patient in the wait, at least. But apparently not all had taken their Xanax because one sign said, “We’re doing our best with the help shortage. If you can’t be patient, leave.”

I thought that was honest and direct. I’d hate to see how far these signs evolve if the help situation doesn’t improve.

I mean, everywhere you go, there’s a plea taped to the window for workers. I think you could be the Three Stooges rolled into one and land decent employment plus tips. Businesses, especially those offering sustenance, are cutting back hours and/or seating, not because of COVID directly, but because of few workers. Oh, no, we can’t get served? What will we do? Forage?

It’s the same all over, except maybe Death Valley, where they’ve begun hiring trained coyotes out of desperation. Great idea, once they can stop them from eating the entrees on the way to the table.

If finding a job is preventing your move to the coast, no worries. As long as you’re dressed and breathing, you are in. And I’m not sure about the dressed part after inwardly chastising some female servers who appeared to be dashing around in their underwear. Trying to stay cool, I guess. Can you tell I’m getting old? As in, not having arrived.

One “Help Wanted” sign had the nerve to read, “If you’re awesome, apply within.” They’re hoping for awesome? Unless the pay beats out McDonald’s, weekends off are guaranteed and retirement property in Corfu is in the contract, forget awesome and settle for sub-par.

Delivery drivers careen around wearing manic expressions. And big-rigs! Remember the days when passing semis was a given because they were slooowww? Good luck passing one now, especially in a ‘78 Concord. They all have souped-up engines and retired Nascar drivers behind the wheel.

At one point I glanced at my speedometer in mid-pass, since I felt like I was speeding, and it read 80 mph in big, round numbers. I had to push it to 80 to pass an 18-wheeler full of gas barbecues and pool toys? Obviously, I was in their way, not the other way around.

You need to steer clear of any conveyor of goods trying like mad to fulfill the demands of the hyper-consumer these days. It would appear that Mr. and Mrs. Public are in full throttle when it comes to purchase power. That goes double for vacations.

We saw license plates from all over — New Hampshire, New Jersey, Hawaii, Alaska, Jupiter, Idaho, a slew from Cali and Washington, Indiana, you name it. It was fun trying to read them before racing semis eclipsed our view.

So, if you really want to get away from it all, don’t go to the coast, as gorgeous, breezy-cool and delicious as it is. Stay home and read a good book instead. Or, take one along.

And speaking of good books, I have one for you. It’s titled “Stone Revival.” How’s that for a segue? It’s my debut novel and is available through Amazon (gotta keep those trucks screaming) in Kindle and paperback editions. There you’ll find the description and the first four chapters to try (think post-WWII, Lake District, England, a sprinkle of humor, espionage and trains). You can also order SR through your favorite bookseller. Follow me on Facebook for signing announcements and giveaways. OK, that wasn’t too painful.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.