IT’S THE HORSE’S FAULT

Good afternoon from Butler & Bailey Market!  I hope everyone is a good week!

We have had some cooler weather, and the Vols won big last weekend which seems to have put people in better spirits, including myself.

The grocery business continues to be challenging.  I would say the biggest challenge for us right now is finding people to work.  We have tried several things to try to attract candidates for employment to no avail.  It seems the more we increase the incentives to work here, the fewer applicants we get. 

I have read a lot of studies done by some very well educated, smart people on why there are eleven million job openings in the country, and no one is willing to fill the openings.  Most of the studies begin with “it’s complicated“ then they go through a myriad of reasons why people are not going back to work.  These range from fear of COVID to unemployment benefits to wanting a better job to childcare to natural disasters and on and on and on.  Well, after studying all of these studies over the last several months, I have determined that the real problem is really not that complicated.  It’s because of people riding horses.  Yep!  I’m laying the blame at the hooves of the horses for the labor shortage.  I got the idea from another national problem.

You see, we have another mess going on.  It’s on the southern border of our country.  Once again, some really well educated, smart people have done numerous studies over several decades trying to decide how to solve the mess on the border.  They start out by saying “it’s complicated”.  Then they explain a whole lot of reasons why the folks want to come here including persecution, global warming, natural disasters, better jobs, and reuniting with families.  On our end, we can’t decide if we want to follow the laws, rewrite the laws, build a wall, tear down a wall, send them back, or let them in, and it goes on and on.  That is, until the last couple of weeks.  Now the news services are reporting that the problem on the border is because of the people riding horses.  I guess the powers that be don’t like horses like I don’t like horses, so we have both decided to blame the horses for the problems we can’t solve ourselves.  I’m just waiting for my son to start blaming the horses when he makes a bad grade in school?  I think I know that horses are not the cause of lack of workers just like they aren’t the biggest problem on the border but, until I know for sure, I’m still not going to allow people to ride horses in the store.

I did make a change this week due to our limited staff.  We are now closing at 8:00pm every night, instead of 9:00pm.  This helps us with shifts and, hopefully, keeps our staff a little more rested, so we can be the best we can be when we are here.  I hope this doesn’t inconvenience our customers too much and, hopefully, it will not be permanent.

Speaking of my son, he is now a freshman in high school, and you know what that means.  That’s when you read To Kill a Mockingbird in English class.  He doesn’t necessarily like to read, so I think he was trying to pass all his quizzes and tests on the book by not reading the book.  That worked for exactly the first chapter.  After his quiz on chapter two, his teacher was nice enough to send us an email about his failing quiz score.  At that point, I asked my wife to pick me up a copy of the book and I would read it and quiz him over the chapters he was assigned.  That would be my contribution to keep his mother from killing him.  Well, things started getting better, but then I got demoted to helping him with geometry and biology, and my wife took over reading the book and quizzing him.  I think she was worried I wouldn’t remember what I read long enough to be able to quiz him on it!  I read a lot of books but never remember much about them once I finish them, just if they were good or bad.  Well, I think he made an A on his final test over the book.  I’m not sure I can say that for his geometry or biology grades.

The most recent books I have read are The Rosie Effect, Black Like Me, The Evening and The Morning, and Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon.  The last one wasn’t very well written but still interesting.  I guess I will finish up To Kill a Mockingbird now that everyone else has read it, and I don’t remember it from forty years ago when I first read it. 

The two books I’m getting ready to start are The Great Blue Hills of God by Kris Beall and Faithful Presence by Bill Haslam.  Both are local authors, one of which was the governor.  His parents shop in the store, and they told me it may be the greatest book ever written, so I’m looking forward to it.  They wouldn’t be biased, would they?

I also have a customer that brings me books to read.  They are always around a thousand pages long.  I’m starting to think he is trying to tie up all my time reading so I won’t write these dumb blogs.  Too bad for him, I’m a fast reader!  I’m paying him back by writing longer blogs that he has to suffer through!

On the subject of local authors, my wife and I went to an art show downtown last Friday for a local artist.  His name is Alex Smith.  I imagine a lot of you know Alex since he grew up right down the street in Forest Brook.  I have been friends with his parents for as long as I can remember since we all grew up in Knoxville. 

Alex went to West High School and Carson Newman College before embarking on a career in painting.  He has lived in New York for the last several years, perfecting his craft and building his clientele, and has just recently moved back to Knoxville.  I have seen his works at several art shows over the years, and his talent for painting continues to amaze me.  I must admit, I am quite the connoisseur of art, especially oil painters, because I work in a grocery store, so you can trust me when I tell you he is extremely talented.  Actually, his works are owned by some pretty prominent collectors, so you don’t have to believe me.

I have wanted to have some of Alex’s art in our home for several years to go along with the other local artist we have works by, including several by my own father, but for various reasons it just hasn’t happened.  I knew for sure I was going to come home with one of his paintings after this show, but someone had beaten us to the ones that Erica and I had liked the most.  We will show up early to his next show so we can get first dibs on his full portfolio of works. 

I know Alex’s parents are really proud of his accomplishments, and I am proud I know him well enough to share his story with you.  Another homegrown talent from our community that is doing great things in his chosen profession!  I hope you get a chance to see some of his works if you haven’t already.  Just remember I have first dibs on his paintings at his next show!

Speaking of community, the Rocky Hill Christmas Parade is going to happen this year after having to skip last year.  In my opinion, this is the biggest event of the year for our community.  I think the date for it is December 4th.  Everyone loves our parade and looks forward to it every year.  The parade just gets bigger and better year after year, and I don’t think this year will be any different.  A lot of people donate a lot of their time to plan and execute the parade so a big thank you to them!  I can’t wait to see all the fancy cars and decorated floats coming down Northshore Drive.  I am even excited about seeing Sam and his friends on their horses… but I’m still not going to let them ride them in the store.

Finally, this Sunday will be my twenty-third wedding anniversary.  As you might imagine, it would be challenging to be married to me for more than a few minutes, so you might want to send Erica a nice gift for keeping me off the streets for the last twenty-three years.  I guess at this point, she is resigned to all the things that come with the Grocery Life, and I couldn’t be more grateful to her for hanging with me!  So, cheers to you Erica!

Thanks for all your kindness and patience as we travel through these crazy times and thanks for letting us be a part of your community!

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