See you tomorrow. Not.

It happened again. It has happened so many times that I must address it right here and right now.  Recently at W. D. Deli we received a job application from a young man who looked pretty good on paper.  We called him in for an interview, and lo and behold, he not only looked good on paper, he looked good in person - clean, well-groomed, articulate, appeared to have at least a little common sense.  We talked with him about his past work experiences.  We talked about the requirements of the position he was applying for.  We discussed the nuts and bolts of the job - hours, pay rate, responsibilities.  Everything sounded good to him.  We agreed on a starting day and time.

And then, almost as soon as he had left the deli, we got an email from him.  He had forgotten an obligation that he had on the day we had agreed on.  He could, however, start the next day.  He was “truly sorry” and this was really not indicative of his work ethic - according to his email.  Okay, we thought, maybe it’s okay.  Maybe he’s honoring some prior commitment and he needs to follow through on something, tie up some loose end or something.  Okay.  He can start the next day.

And start he did. He had a busy, productive first day.  Smiles and energy all over the place.  Congenial. Sharp. He caught on quickly to the tasks he was assigned and ended his six hour shift and left the deli in a good mood, saying, “See you tomorrow.”

Only we didn’t see him “tomorrow.”  No show.  No call.  This has happened too many times.  There are variations on this theme.  There was one guy who - in the middle of his shift - volunteered to take the garbage out to the dumpster.  Nice guy.  He took a large bag of trash out to the dumpster behind the deli, and just kept on walking.  Never clocked out.  Never came back.  There was a sweet young lady who was having a great first day.  She went on a lunch break and *poof* disappeared.

Here’s the part where we may start sounding like old farts.  As  employers of many young adults over the past few (ahem) years, Mr. Bobo and Mr. Beers have become amateur cultural anthropologists. We can report the results of our very unscientific research as follows: The young people who worked at W. D. Deli in the 1990s and 2000s were a little more surly than the kids who have worked at the deli in the 2010s. The darlings in this decade seem to be happier people, but appear to have little or no work ethic.  The less happy employees of the ‘90s and ‘00s were much more productive, dependable and much harder workers.  The current crop is characterized by high self esteem, and a strong belief that they should be able to do anything they want, and that they should not have to do anything that they don’t want to do - whether it’s making tuna salad or, uh, showing up to work on Saturday morning. Are they happier? Yes.   They’re fun to be around.  They have great self esteem.  They meet people easily and enjoy life.  But with this group there is a tendency to be unconcerned with being dependable or responsible.

Whenever there’s a position open at W. D. Deli, we run an ad on Craigslist.  One young woman recently responded to the ad - not by applying for a job - but by writing us a note, with a concern and/or question: “I keep seeing your help wanted ads on Craigslist. Is it really a horrible place to work?  Is the job so terrible?  You keep posting these ads.”

The truth is we think it’s a great place to work.  The hours are great.  The pay is decent.  The environment is cool.  The food is delicious.  And the people you get to work with - staff AND customers - are wonderful.  You just gotta show up. I’m sure it’ll happen again.  Somebody will have a great first day and not show up for day two.  But that’s okay.  The tortilla soup will still be hot and delicious.


  1. Can I get a part-time non-paying job as the cookie taster????

  2. Welcome to my world. I teach college kids like this every day... They are SO happy most of the time, but they live in this dream state wherein they believe life will hand them magical beans and up, up, up they will go. I was one of those not-very-outgoing, occasionally morose, oh-so-tragic 90's kids who didn't always smile but sure as hell worked my ass off. Times have changed, and don't worry about sounding like crotchety men...I'm there with you.


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