Go to main menu Go to main content Go to footer

Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Weak links in the supply chain

BY Sonny Orr Oct 27, 2021

I waited in the dark in my office, the light flickering loudly. The stench was unbearable as both my panic and the hair on my arms rose in tandem. 

I realized that we needed a plumber and an electrician when the furnace fan finally ground to a halt, screeching oh-so-slowly in its final spin. So, I finally gave in and called maintenance. Minutes later, they show up in their dark coveralls and confirmed my own expert analysis: that something was wrong and possibly broken. 

Moments later, the men in dark coveralls left as quickly as they had arrived. I stood there puzzled: was everything okay? Would the pipes drip again? And did I mention the thermostat? Why were the lightbulbs on the new range over the stove looking like they were made for South Africa or Corsica? 

I was about to raise these valid questions when the two pairs of coveralls disappeared out the front door. Not to be deterred, I quickly slipped on my shoes and ran after them. But too late – they were already out the driveway and speeding down the road. 

There was something odd about those fix-it men. It bothered me for some time as I stood outside. Then I went back in to observe that the furnace was indeed purring smoothly. Meanwhile, the putrid perfume of human waste was already nearly gone. The glow of electric light warmed the heart reassuringly. 

Then it struck me: those dark coveralled men weren’t wearing bright florescent safety vests. Who did they work for, I wondered, and how did they fix everything in just a few minutes? The truth is out there I mused as a strangely high-pitched tune jingled over my ear drums.

My daily routine at the local mall would help calm the uneasy feelings trickling down my spine. So, I went to check my empty mailbox and buy a pop and bag of chips before heading back to work. 

My daily routines are onerous, I admit. When I finally finished them, covered in sweat, I wondered if I should cook something or fast food it. After a few quick questions and Facebook surveys I discovered that nothing is open because no businesses can attract employees anymore. 

Why can’t bosses hire taller workers, I wondered, the ones who can fill the empty top shelves or carry more boxes with their long arms? Then again, we are short staffed everywhere on the planet. Where are all those people who used to help fill our stomachs on wages that left them hungry? 

A nasty thought struck me – they are busy charging their phones and waiting for a like on the idea of looking for some sort of job that pays money for as little effort as possible. 

One well-respected employer in the North used to complain about staff who argued that the boss kept telling them to do things all the time. Another employer now faces the need to hire new workers every few weeks. It’s driving him crazy wondering if he had already hired, fired, and/or rehired the same person. 

Employee ransomware is a new concept – recent hires who refuse to work unless it’s completely on their terms. The befuddled boss or business owner has no real choice but to fold and pay for less or just work harder themselves. Either way, there’s no way out and everyone loses in this type of work style. It’s a work ethic gone awry, I say.

So I flip my own burgers in silence, thinking of this new reality and whether I would be stuck doing dishes again. Will there even be a shortage of workers in my domestic supply chain? Will I have to offer a higher allowance or a new game module as incentives for well-cleaned plates and bowls? At whatever level, it’s now tougher to be in management.

LATEST ᒫᐦᒡ ᑎᐹᒋᒧᐧᐃᓐ

Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.