Our family went out to eat this weekend, but we turned away from our first restaurant of choice after learning there would be an hour wait. I was not bothered. In fact, I thought about how such a minor inconvenience is strangely pleasing these days. It means that a business is doing well, at least for that night. And I surely recognize the value of that right now.
For instance, by this point of the holiday season, I’m usually ready for the end of the shopping rush. But this year, I don’t mind it. In fact, I fear what will follow. For most struggling businesses, it doesn’t make sense to cash in your chips before Christmas. I wonder how many businesses are just holding on through the holidays. How many vacant commercial lots will we see in January and February, how many jobs lost in the early winter months?
The new economic landscape hits us at so many levels. It’s changing our thinking. It doesn’t just alter long-term plans but our daily plans, too, like our meal choices. And it makes us reassess what we value and why, which, of course, is not always a bad thing.
But who isn’t weary of the bad economic news we get everyday? I realize that I am now a newsman who dreads the news.
And that news doesn’t just arrive on the TV or in the paper. It arrives in the mailbox in the form of bills, or bad financial tidings from the companies that carry on our business. For instance, I opened the mail the other day and discovered that my small retirement fund has gone on a major diet, trimming 30 percent of its weight in a very short period of time.
Well, that stinks. But I don’t dwell on it too much. I just think that I need to hit the treadmill more often. I’ve always expected that I’d be working into my later years, if I make it there. And I’ve never really expected Social Security to be around then either, not with the coming baby boom surge in entitlements. That said, I’m glad Social Security wasn’t privatized just before this Wall Street meltdown. I don’t think that would be a pretty picture.
Right now, more than ever in my life, I recognize the value in rising in the morning and driving to a job, of being physically able to work and of having that place to go.
It’s terribly sad to see so many people who don’t have those things and who are struggling mightily. We see this in so many industries. And there seems to be this rapid acceleration of job loss.
Just like everybody else, I am truly anxious about the days ahead, but I will try not to let that control me. Instead, I will savor the good moments that come along, like that early rising next week, those little eyes surprised by the half-eaten cookies on the table, that fast dash to the tree.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.