By Scott Mechura EBS FOOD COLUMNIST
Life is full of actions, beliefs and words that we never think we would ever say or do; people we say we would never interact with, or simply think we’ll never see them again. And it’s amazing how many times we see that same person again, believe something we never thought we would believe, or in my case over the years, employ someone I never thought I would employ, or employ again.
But life’s funny that way.
Now, I find myself saying two words I never thought I would say as often as I do.
Yes of course I’ve used those words an infinite number of times in my life. But what has changed is the context and frequency with which I say them.
Times are tough and we all know it.
America was in the midst of a generational labor shortage long before the era of COVID—COVID just magnified it.
I remember moving here in 2000 and when interviewing an applicant, the only question on their minds was whether or not we provided a ski pass. If we did not, well, it was highly likely they were not interested and would move on to someone who did.
How many Big Sky businesses now pine for the day when they only had to provide a ski pass to entice an employee?
By the time I moved back from Texas in May 2014, a sea of change had happened. I was shocked how the first question, the only question really, was if we provided housing or not. As I’ve written, if you’re not a landlord then you aren’t an employer now.
Unemployment benefits, fear of one’s health, government stimulus as well as an underlying shift in away from physical work have all exacerbated an already challenging issue.
So it occurred to me recently just how much I now say thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for showing up. Thank you for putting forth the effort it takes to do the job you do. Thank you for doing a job you know is difficult before taking it.
Thank you for being part of what has always been the backbone of any successful society.
I recently stopped for a coffee on my way to work at Horn & Cantle on Christmas Eve long before the sun was even thinking about rising.
Inside the door was the manager, mopping an endlessly sloppy snowy floor, all the while making jokes about how we were all messing up his floor. Not everyone walking in got his humor and the reactions were quite amusing.
I went about my business and headed to the register to pay where two employees and the same manager were now conversing.
They did their usual morning greetings, all with a smile. I left, but turned back around after a few steps away. I approached them as they looked at me as I had forgotten something.
I forgot to say thank you.
“Thank you all for being here on this holiday morning and thank you for what you do in this store every day. It doesn’t go unnoticed,” I said to them.
The manager thanked me back with a look in his eye that was as genuine as it was pleasantly surprised. And both of the women behind the register each began to tear together as if they planned it as they thanked me back and told me to have a good Christmas as well.
Please, no longer take for granted those who we took for granted for most of our lives. I’m sure thankful they showed up to work that morning.
Scott Mechura has spent a life in the hospitality industry. He is an executive chef, former certified beer judge and currently the executive chef for Horn & Cantle at Lone Mountain Ranch.