Monthly Archives: January 2022

Nobody Wants to Work

We’re closed today because nobody wants to work, said the sign on the restaurant’s door.

This lament will be familiar to any restaurant or business owner in an industry that survives on a business model of low paying jobs.  Simply raising wages may not be sufficient to attract workers, even if it were financially feasible, which it usually isn’t.  Working conditions are also important.

So take another look at that statement from the perspective of the workers.  As someone whose been as a short-order cook, a gas station attendant (the only one not robbed in broad daylight by an armed nutjob) and a motel maid, that message is insulting. 

It says I showed up for every assigned shift, pulled double shifts when asked, dealt with horrible and rude customers, put up with unreasonable and demanding bosses, and all for a company that doesn’t value me as a person or an employee. 

Blue collar workers face job insecurity.  Millions lost their jobs during the pandemic and many of those jobs aren’t coming back.  Those still employed worry about losing their jobs even as they work extra hours due to a shortage of workers.   

Blue collar workers face housing insecurity.  Whether paying a mortgage or renting their homes, costs are going up.  Many blue collar workers never earn enough money to build a nest egg to protect them financially if they lose their jobs.  They are always a paycheck away from default and a possible eviction.    

Blue collar workers face food insecurity.  Inflation hits the poorest first and the hardest.  As more of a family’s earnings must go to pay for housing and utilities, there is less to pay for food.  Food pantries say they’ve been overwhelmed with the numbers needing food assistance.

Blue collar workers face a health crisis.  They often lack employer-sponsored health coverage, and even if it’s offered, they probably can’t afford the payroll deductions for their portion of the premium.  But they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, particularly in the states which refused for political reasons to expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor.  As a result, treatable health conditions become life threatening.

All these insecurities pile up to emotional and physical burnout. Blue collar workers are exhausted.  They have spent decades working jobs that paid little and offered stingy benefits, while facing condescension and amused contempt from people who either never worked these types of jobs or have forgotten what it was like.

Blue collar workers are reacting to burnout exactly like their white collar counterparts. The Baby Boomers are retiring and those who can are switching to jobs with better pay, working conditions and employee benefits. That leaves some employers in a bind.  That bind won’t be fixed by accusing the potential workforce of not wanting to work.

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps small businesses create human resources policies and risk mitigation programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle ( which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (

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The Other Side of the Couch – Patience Rewarded

Kara 2022


When a feline companion of eighteen years left us last May, I knew that at some point I would want to adopt another cat.  Our resident cat, Jasmine, now ten years old, came to us at age two when her first family moved to New Zealand.  She and Oscar became friends – he was ten at the time – and although they were never buddies, they did tolerate each other to the extent that they sometimes even sat on the bed together.

Jasmine adapted well to being on her on, especially because the pandemic has resulted in my being home almost all the time.  However, as things began to open, it became apparent that she would be home alone for some stretches of time, and I was worried about that for her.  She had always been with other animals.

We decided to adopt a younger cat in hopes that they would become playmates.  Alas – best-laid plans – when we went to the cat rescue to choose a cat, we were chosen – by a nine-year-old female named Kara.  She was a greeter – she was seated in a small box on a table right next to the door as we came in, and she was friendly right away.  We looked around, and we spent time with several of the younger cats (there were twenty-five cats roaming around) – but the one we thought we had come for turned out to be “playful” in a bit of a rough way.  My husband wanted none of that – and Kara was our choice.

In adopting an older, female cat and attempting to integrate her into our home with an even-older female cat, we were embarking of a journey that would require patience!

So began the Saga of Jasmine and Kara, a continuing story told in weekly installments to an avid audience of friends.  Following the instructions gleaned from our cat whisperer friend and from Jackson Galaxy YouTube videos, we began by not even allowing the two cats to see each other.  Kara was whisked into the house and placed in a secure room with her own box, food bowls, toys and water. This happened to be the room in which we watch TV, so she would be sure of company in the evening.  The next steps were to exchange scents – rub old socks or t-shirts on each cat and put those objects in the other cat’s areas.  Next we moved Kara into another room for a bit and let Jasmine into the TV room to sniff around.  We did this repeatedly.

The next step was crucial – we put up baby gates at one of the entrances to the TV room and began to crack the door open when both cats were eating – thus creating an association with “seeing other cat equals getting food”.  We quickly learned that Kara is an agile escape artist who could climb right over those gates!  However, they did serve the purpose of allowing visual contact if they were monitored.  I also learned that as soon as Jasmine saw Kara that I needed to pet her (the resident cat!), reassure her that this interloper did not mean she had lost us, and play with her using her favorite toy, a fishing pole with feathers attached.

This journey began in September.  We are now at the point at which both Jasmine and Kara are out and about in the house during the day.  Jasmine is the dominant cat – a Maine Coon mix weighing in at twelve pounds; however, Kara, a long-haired black tabby with Maine Coon features as well, and weighing about eight pounds, is a little acrobat and very interested in joining with and playing with Jasmine.

This has not yet occurred, but I would say that the possibility exists that they could end up on a bed together. It has taken patience, time, and determination – some would say why work so hard?  In part it is because we were chosen – but also it is within our ability to provide a safe and loving home to an older cat – and the rewards of that choice are many.  We love them both, quirks and all, and I have hope that the patience we are all displaying will be rewarded.  

Patience is an old-fashioned virtue – in our fast-paced and throw-away society, we are not used to delaying gratification or waiting for things to unfold.  Jasmine and Kara are teaching us time-honored truths by showing us that it takes time to adapt, to trust, and to create new connections.  It will not be rushed – it takes the time it takes – a timely reminder that even fear and conflict can be mitigated by patience and a good meal!

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP
Communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, proud native Nashvillian – in private practice for 35+ years. I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts. Contact me at
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Hanging Onto Love

Photo by Anna Shvets on

Although this is the first post of the new year, I’m straying from the typical calendar themes and this month I want to write about Love. After all, this blog is the place where I get to write about whatever is on my mind, and today Love is the topic.

What is it about love that drives us to seek it out? I’m not just talking about romantic love, but love in general. What is common among the various forms of love? My co-author of this blog, the fabulous Susan Hammonds-White, is a licensed counselor. She likes to say she helps “mend broken hearts,” so she’s basically an expert on love. Susan teaches about how love affects our brain chemistry, explaining that in the early stages, our brains are awash in hormones. I’m not sure if it only refers to romantic love, but let’s assume it’s the same for all types. Those early stages can be addicting, for sure. Why else are there people who seem to fall in and out of love on a regular basis? According to Susan, over time, our brains adjust and that is where real, deep, lasting attachment begins. I guess the goal is to hang on long enough to get past the “drunk with love,” stage so we can build something real.

Sometimes hanging on is built into the system. For example, when my daughter was born, I fell madly in love with her. I could not stop looking at her, holding her, drinking her in. I was, to be honest, infatuated with her. As the years pass, my love for her has grown and deepened into something even bigger and hard to explain. I’m still pretty obsessed with her, and of course she is no longer dependent on me in any way. But I honestly feel love and admiration that is real, and infinite. The early infatuation carried me through some difficult times while she was growing up. And this experience was the same for her two younger brothers. As each baby boy arrived, it felt like my heart just kept expanding. Today, my children remain the three most interesting and captivating people I know. Our love for each other helps us though good and not so good times, and bridges the gaps when we disagree.

But what keeps us longing for, searching for, and hanging onto love that is free from parental responsibility and biology? What about siblings? Of course, biology plays a role, as well as family loyalty and shared history. But we all know we don’t choose our siblings and close relationships might just be a matter of chance. Still, many of us continue to pursue love from our siblings, even when they push us away. And what about our friends? I’ve had friends through the years who I’ve tried hard to love, but I’ve had to let go of the friendship for one reason or another. I know sometimes friendships outlive their place in our lives, but it’s still painful to say goodbye to someone you’ve loved and shared really great experiences.

And now for the obvious, romantic love. I know a young couple, recently married, who are struggling to find their footing. On paper they don’t look like they’d be a good match. They have some major obstacles to work through, but they clearly love each other and want to make things work. I’m praying they hang on. I, too, was a very young bride, just 21 years old. After four years of college together, we married just before my husband went to graduate school and I went to work. It was hard. But by the time we got married, we’d spent four years getting to know each other and despite our youth and inexperience, we passed through the “drunk with love,” stage and were ready to build something real. We hung on long enough.

So, what do all these love affairs have in common? I can’t speak for everyone, obviously, but for me, love feels like home. The people I love and who love me are those with whom I am the most myself. I recently attended a family reunion with cousins I hadn’t seen in many years. In fact, it was the first time in a long time that we’ve all been together. Despite the years and the age differences between us, I felt loved, I felt seen, and I felt at home. My closest friends are those who not only like me, but who work with me through difficulties and differences to build something real. I see my children, despite some of their differences, reach toward each other for love and support. My husband and I are now moving into a new stage of life and it’s precisely because we hung on that we continue to learn from each other, to challenge each other, to comfort each other, and to love each other. To me, that is both the definition of love and of home.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the Editor of The Jewish Observer of Nashville, and a former small business owner.  Barbara loves writing, telling stories of real people and real events and most of all, talking to people all over the world.  The Jewish Observer newspaper can be read online at . and follow her on Instagram @barbdab58

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