In the March 17, 2020 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter we talk about how everyone’s doing in the time of corona crisis and stock market meltdown.

Question

coronaNick, what are you hearing from your readers about the effects of the coronavirus and the stock market meltdown? There’s a lot in the news about companies suspending business, schools closing, curfews and people self-quarantining and working from home. (Working from home is going to be interesting since many companies have never been able to accommodate it!) But how is all this affecting jobs, job hunting and hiring, and how bad is it going to get?

Nick’s Reply

I can address this only anecdotally because I don’t have a lot of input yet from readers. I expect we’re going to hear a wide range of unexpected stories, and of course I have no idea how bad it will get.

Here are three personal accounts people have shared with me, in the order I received them. This is of course no indication of what you may experience, but I find it interesting that on the one hand employers are producing good job offers in the middle of the crisis, while on the other hand employers aren’t even telling workers whether they still have a job. On the third hand — it does feel like there are more hands in this than we’d imagine — employers are instituting hiring freezes.

Corona 1

Reader 1 says over the weekend she received a job offer for a senior management position that she’s “happy with” for $150,000 plus bonus, company stock and a good healthcare and retirement package. The interviews took a couple of weeks. She has submitted a few questions that she needs answers to before she accepts.

Corona 2

Reader 2 works for a 400-person professional office in one of the major U.S. cities that have been hit by the coronavirus. She commutes from outside the city and is reluctant to take public transportation to work. As of Sunday night, management has not yet informed employees whether they must report to work or whether they can work from home. She has no idea whether she still has a job and wonders whether she should leave a voicemail for her boss saying she’s not coming into the office on Monday.

Corona 3

Reader 3 has been unemployed for almost a year and is about to enter negotiations for a $95,000 position with a company he’s excited about working for. He has two concerns. First, he’s worried he may have to take a drug test — because he’s been using marijuana to alleviate arthritis pain — but doesn’t know whether he’ll be tested immediately or in a month. Second, he suspects the job may be withdrawn because the coronavirus “has business and investors all cowering.”

All three want to know how I think the corona crisis could affect their respective situations. The best advice I can offer them is: Make no assumptions and wait for the employer to take the next step.

(By the time I finished this column, Reader 3 notified me that the company put in a hiring freeze and went with an internal candidate “because he knows the material.”)

Pause

The worst thing to do during this crisis is make assumptions based on what “seems” to be happening in the world. The crisis will quickly separate well-managed companies from poorly managed ones — and responsive companies from indolent ones.

Please consider that you may not know what kind of company you’re dealing with until the pressure of the crisis actually hits it. I’ve seen seemingly inept companies and managers rise to the occasion and blow away all expectations, just as I’ve seen experienced ones crumble.

I think everyone’s best bet is to pause. Stay calm and learn all you can while watching closely before you act.

I don’t know, but you do

I’m not a good person to ask about the myriad impacts and effects of the coronavirus and stock market crisis. I expect things to get worse before they get better — but that’s not telling you anything.

In fact, I hesitate to tell you anything. I’d prefer that members of this community tell one another what they’re experiencing and what they see, and also offer suggestions to help one another deal with the great variety of problems and challenges we will face in the coming weeks and months.

Corona Crisis Questions

I’ve got a hundred questions but will leave it at this short list — and ask you not only to share any answers you may have, but to add more questions you’d like answers and insights about so we can all pile on to discuss.

  • Are employers still hiring?
  • Are you still working — at your company or at home? (Assuming you were not unemployed when this started.)
  • Has anyone lost their job?
  • Are employers requiring workers to take unpaid time off?
  • Are employers still interviewing and, if so, how?
  • If you’re job hunting, will you continue? How?
  • Has anyone received a job offer, accepted or started a new job in the past week?
  • Have any companies shut down their operations temporarily?
  • Have any companies gone out of business entirely?
  • What are companies and managers expecting of their employees?
  • Does your employer have a real disaster plan? What is it?
  • Have you (or someone you know) been diagnosed with coronavirus?

Most important:

How are you doing?

How you’re all doing matters more to me than knowing exactly what’s happening. I hope you’ll come back to this discussion again and again in the weeks (and months?) to come, to share how how you’re doing is changing, hopefully for the better.

Please share your experiences, questions, concerns, answers, insights, fears, hopes, advice — and lend your ears to one another. This is a big topic because it’s a big crisis. Feel free to vent; there are shoulders here to cry on. Best of all, there are friends that care about one another — and you can get as close as you like while staying back six feet.

All I ask is that we don’t turn this into a political debate or engage in rants about who’s responsible for the crisis and who needs to fix it — please use Facebook for that. Our goal here is to help one another through a very tough, unpredictable time. Our goal is to be with friends who care how you’re doing.

Love and best wishes to you all.

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76 Comments
  1. I am finding that HR people at both my current company and at the one I am being hired by to be highly professional, helpful, and level headed. In fact, both my wife and I went to work at our jobs today and felt a sense of normalcy.

    I am concerned about the vast numbers of people who will be unemployed during this time. I worry about catching the virus myself, and having to be quarantined.

    For the past several days I have felt anything but calm. Even so, this too shall pass.

  2. My day job is a toxic culture. Several of my colleagues have indicated openly they hope they get infected so they can have time off. Kind of perverse, but par for the course. Some of our customers are not allowing sales calls or any visitors until further notice. I’m taking precautions (plenty of hand sanitizer in my stash). Hunkering down, business as usual, and weathering it, but I think it’s a lot of hype.

  3. Still working but I’ve been telecommuting since 2007 so it’s just another day for me. Other than my kids are all home from school for the next two weeks and I’ll have to supervise their at home schooling. My extended team at work is all telecommuting now as work (I’m a NASA contractor) is encouraging anyone who can to work remote. Luckily our work is such that we can do it from anywhere as we are on the software side of things and all of them telework occasionally. Plus the project is spread over every US time zone and Europe so we’re used to conducting all our meetings by video and audio conferencing.

    My wife is a university professor and her school just shut down last week and shifted to online classes starting on Wednesday of this week so she’s scrambling to get class material ready for this new on-line only world they will be operating in for the rest of the semester. My daughter, who is in college, is struggling as she adapts to these on-line classes and doesn’t have the access to as much help from TAs and labs as she would like. Plus her fun classes, Polynesian Dance and Bookbinding, just got canceled outright.

    None of us are sick at the moment. Although that might change as my wife may have been exposed at work. The grocery stores are out of everything, it’s really surreal, but we usually keep 2-3 weeks of food in the house and were able to stock up a bit more when I saw the writing on the wall so we’re set there as well.

    I have a low level job search going and the only impact I’ve really seen is a delay in a lunch meeting I was supposed to have tomorrow about a job I’ve applied for. It’s with my wife’s university and everyone is scrambling like her to get ready for the on-line classes so I wasn’t surprised it got delayed as the professors I was to meet with are a little busy. I’ll keep applying for jobs that look interesting and it’s all remote for me anyway so I don’t think much will change other than all the interviews will be done via technology for a while (which for the most part the initial ones are anyway).

    Just today, the fast food restaurants that two of my boys work at closed their dining rooms and went to drive-thru only. It will be interesting to see how/if that impacts their hours.

    Overall, we’re lucky to be in a very good position right now. I have a number of friends and neighbors that aren’t so lucky and will be looking out for them as best I can.

    • Interesting story. How many colleges are going to take a lesson from this enforce introduction to online pedagogy to provide a new (cheaper) way to get a college degree. The cost of college can’t continue as it has. Some smart colleges will parley this into a new educational paradigm.

      • @Jim: I think it won’t be only colleges that change their paradigms. This crisis is forcing a kind of in vitro experimentation with education, work, play — everything. Whatever changes seem to work will likely get adopted into the mainstream when things settle down. We’ll find economies and efficiencies in some of this, and perhaps the silver lining is that the quality of life will improve. Sorry to make this stretch, but in a way it’s Darwinian. When the environment changes, organisms that adapt proliferate. I think it’s the same with our life systems — education, work, play, etc. We’ll see new trends. Hopefully that will include some kind of campus/online hybrid of education that serves both the academic and social needs of people “going to school.”

        • Yes, I hope higher education will change. I have a small business as a counselor and work as a part-time adjunct in a state college. It was so strange to get numerous messages as the pandemic grew from the provost saying that instructors will be teaching remotely next term. I don’t mind doing this and have worked remotely for some clients in my practice. Though the provost went on for two paragraphs explaining that we are going to do ‘remote teaching’ we are not to call it ‘on-line instruction. Afterward, I was in a cognitive-daze of sorts, I’m teaching a class this spring online though I can’t call it that? Okay, though they were hammering the point rather hard considering the pandemic. Then, I found out from one of the full-time non-tenured instructors in my department that the university charges 20% MORE from the campus’s “Office of Academic Innovation” to teach online classes. The provost reported that OAI chooses teachers to receive ‘special training for online instruction’ (which no one I have EVER met has made their criteria to receive), so those of us who have not been picked by OIA have been informed that we are ‘remote teaching’ . . . though we are going to be doing this . . . online. It really seems dodgy.

      • @Jim Taggart: One of my previous jobs was running an online MPH (Master’s in Public Health) program. I can attest that online does not equal cheaper. My university charged a higher tuition/course fees for all of their online programs compared to their campus-based programs. The university made no distinction for in-state, regional, out-of-state (everywhere in the US except New England), and international rates (all online students were charged the same rate regardless of where they were domiciled), unlike the campus-based programs, which charged the lowest tuition to Massachusetts residents, the highest to international students, and with students from the other New England states paying a higher rate than the MA students but lower than students from the other 44 states and international students.

        The students in the campus-based programs (at least in the graduate school) paid about the same amount as the online graduate students. How can this be? Because although the online students paid higher tuition/course fees, they didn’t pay the other kinds of fees that campus-based students pay due to being “in residence”. So the latter pay more fees, but lower tuition, while the online students paid higher tuition but no where nearly as many fees, so it worked out to cost about the same.

        The thing is, faculty still have to be paid, then you have to have the technology to teach online, plus all of the tech support for both faculty and students. And with online students not on campus (my program had no residency requirement, unlike some online MPH programs at other colleges and universities), it means the schools/programs needed to hire people like me to handle academic advising, admissions, clearing students for graduation, providing other information to them, scheduling, curriculum, etc. My pay came out of the profits my program generated.

        And some majors/programs don’t lend themselves well or at all to distance education, such as chemistry, biology, studio art, dance, medicine, law, to name a few.

        I’ll wrap up with a story/incident one of my students relayed to me. He was and still is in the USPHS (United States Public Health Service) Commissioned Corps. While he was in my program, he learned that Emory (which has a School of Public Health and Health Sciences) was starting an online MPH program and that they were going to be offering a special (much lower) tuition rate to Commissioned Officers in the USPHS. He telephoned me one day to ask whether we would match Emory’s low rate. Unfortunately, my boss and her boss and the bigger university’s online program said no. So he applied to Emory, was admitted, and told me why. I sent a memo to our Graduate School formally requesting him to be withdrawn (this is common procedure), but indicating why and that he was in good academic standing. I told Hristu that I would be sorry to lose him, and that if things didn’t work out, to let me know. Well, the fall semester had barely begun when I received a phone call from him. He described the chaos he experienced at Emory both with getting the classes he needed, with their registration process, getting information about the required textbooks (I provided all of that information to my students), and even worse, once he enrolled he said that Emory told him that all mid-terms and finals had to be taken in person, on campus, and that there was a residency requirement, and all enrolled students had to take at least 3 summer sessions on campus. Hristu worked full time, didn’t live in the Atlanta area, and was/is a commissioned officer, which meant that when there was a crisis or emergency somewhere in the US or in the world, he would be deployed at a moment’s notice. Nor did he see the sense in having to drive more than 16 hours each way merely to take the mid-terms and finals in his courses. He told me he was appalled by the lack of honesty and information (not telling the USPHS officers about the residency requirement and having to take all exams in person, on campus) in addition to not having systems and processes set up for the online students. He asked if it was too late for him to return. I said no, you’re just in time as classes began the previous day and there were still seats in some courses. I told him I’d write his re-admission memo and walk it over to the Graduate School as soon as I got off the phone with him, and I’d let him know when he could register for classes, send him the booklist for the courses. He was able to get re-admitted and registered for classes that day, and order his textbooks. My point is that online programs don’t run themselves, so you still need staff and faculty, and they’re not going to work for free.

      • @Jim: I forgot to mention that not all students can afford computers and some don’t have internet access. The community college where I used to work served a poor, primarily inner city student body. Many of these students were using the social safety nets–section 8 housing, food stamps, etc. They qualified for free bus passes to and from the college, and many qualified for vouchers towards their textbooks. The majority of them didn’t own and couldn’t afford their own computers. We got a grant and purchased chromebooks and hotspots for the library to loan out to students. They were so popular because there were not enough computers available in the college’s labs and library, and because, being a community college, we weren’t open the same kinds of hours that four year, residential colleges were. Quite a few students commuted from small towns that didn’t have broadband at all, or limited broadband at best. One student, who lived in Otis, said not only that she couldn’t afford to buy a computer for herself, but there was no broadband in Otis except at the library, and that with the Otis police and town library permission, she could borrow our chromebook and hotspot, sit in her car in the Otis library parking lot, and thus be able to do her homework.

        Not everyone can be an online student, even if they want to.

  4. Nick,

    Thanks for your care and concern. It’s unexpected (and by that I mean not the usual topic), and speaks volumes about the kind of person you are.

    I too have mostly anecdotal information. I have worked from home for about a year at a startup that is struggling. So no change for me. I had lunch with a friend who works for a multinational defense (primarily) contractor. They have been asked to work from home, if possible, for 60 days. I am mentoring a young man who is changing careers to Engineering from Food Service. His restaurant has kept everyone, but reduced hours dramatically for all employees. We were there this weekend and it was half-full at best.

    My wife works as an Administrator at the local middle school. There are no classes until April 20th (when the scheduled Spring Break ends). She had a meeting at the District Office today and came home very upset because people are getting crazy with panic.

    Our church canceled services for the month.

    I had a similar experience as Tom when I went grocery shopping Monday. It looked like locust had swept through the store; very surreal.

    I’m not at all worried about the virus. I am in excellent health, and at my mid-60s, slightly below the most vulnerable demographic. The vast majority of people who contact the virus easily survive it. I do have some concern that people are not thinking rationally, which could lead to panic; the last thing we need right now.

    Thank you for the chance to share with others!

  5. I was already in the hole before all of this, working a low wage part time job while on unemployment. I have an advanced degree but can’t find a job in my field. Had a phone interview last week, and they don’t have any idea what they will do. I have another tomorrow and expect the same non-answer. First real interviews in a while and it really sucks that I will miss out on these opportunities. I am also much behind in my career for my age, and I am certain that the upcoming depression will kill any chance I had at a middle class life.

    • Man, your story resonates with me. 10 years ago, I was in your shoes, working a Part-time gig, and drawing UI until it ran out (no extended benefits either). I was 52 then, and the ugly face of ageism glared at me. At least you’re getting phone interviews. I’ve been looking for a new job for awhile, and it’s been crickets for me, save for the standard “we’ve gone another direction” Indeed.com rejection replies. I guess I’m at least employed. I feel for what you’re facing. May I inquire, have you looked at some kind of grunt grungy work (driving truck, laborer, etc.)? Sometimes the best job is the only job.

      • One time I did apply for a job in a grocery store but was soon enough offered two jobs using both of my degrees.

        I am not above sweeping floors for a living. In fact, I could tell that employees at the grocery store were overworked the other day due to all the buying going on. I even asked if I could work a few hours for them on the weekend – they said I would have to go through their “employment process.” Really??? I knew someone who applied for a job years ago at a department store during the Christmas rush and worked 4 hours that afternoon.

        I’m willing to help out, but if even grocery stores cannot be more flexible in an emergency, then I worry about business being able to function.

        I would have worked for free that day just to help out humanity.

        • @Kevin: That’s just astonishingly stupid of the grocery. Good for you for walking in with your offer. I’ve got a similar story. While in college, I took a job in a Mattel factory that made, among other things, Barbie Campers. I was hired as a Production Worker at $2.50 an hour. Other applicants were assigned as Material Handlers for $3.75 an hour. Assignments were random. One night (I worked a late shift) the supervisor was in a bad mood because several Material Handlers didn’t show up. As you might guess, the MHs pushed pallet lifts around to feed the lines with material. MHs had punched cards with a blue line on top. PWs like me had a red line. So I walked up to the Supervisor while he was inspecting the troops at beginning of the shift, took a blue marker from his pocket and made a blue line across my red-topped employee card. “Presto,” I said. “You’ve got one more Material Handler.” I was sure he’d fire me. Instead he grinned widely and initialed my card. I expect that guy had a pretty good career. (I’ve told this story before, so forgive me if you’ve heard it!) Whoever rejected you at the grocery was a dope.

        • It makes no sense! A friend of mine has a 16 year old son who was looking for his first job as a sacker for a local grocery chain. He had to fill out a 16 page online application. Like applying for a security clearance. The rub is his son was ghosted. When I was out of work 10 years ago I tried grocery stores, auto parts stores, restaurants, etc. I was mocked and scoffed at (I was 52 at the time). Yet I heard the same managers at these places complain about the younger folks who didn’t show up or give a good faith effort. Go figure!

          • @Antonio Zoli: I know. I’ve been there. When I was out of work nearly 10 years ago, I couldn’t get a job–not even delivering pizzas. Yet they were complaining that there was no “good” help, that the younger folks wouldn’t show up, or would call in sick, or were sloppy/careless. But god forbid that they hire an older person, who would show up, do the job, be responsible.

        • @Kevin: This happened to me this past weekend. The supermarkets and Walmart were overwhelmed, and several of the clerks said that they desperately needed help with stocking. I’m not above at, especially since the employer I had shut down for the coronavirus. I immediately asked to speak with the managers, and one manager refused to come out, relaying the message to the clerk to tell me that I would have to apply online. The other managers talked to me, but gave the same message (no deal unless you apply online). Yet they were swamped, and several people had not come in to work. Seriously, they need help but don’t want to hire. I don’t get it. How do they think the tasks will get done and who do they think will do them? Magic faeries?

          • Whatever happened to just hiring on the spot? Is it because of liability?

            • @Kevin: I haven’t got a clue. I don’t get how there can be liability for hiring on the spot when there is dire need of help. You would think that they’d be glad to get interested people and would hire them. I suppose someone could be an escaped convict or an axe murderer, but why not have some paper applications (and keep it simple, none of this 16 or 20 pages) like they used to have 30 and 40 years ago), take some time talking to them (no need for all day interviews if you’re going to be stocking shelves) and making sure they can do the job, then hire them.

              Technology and computers are great, but not when it comes to hiring. I’d tell any business that needs help today to pretend that it is 1975 and then hire accordingly. Technology, ATSes, smartphones, etc. weren’t around, yet somehow (shockingly) people managed to hire and get hire and do their jobs. And if management is behind the foot dragging, then that’s a problem too.

            • @Kevin: I think the problem is years and generations of brainwashing. “You have to submit an application.” That, and managers have been trained not to make decisions.

            • Liability is one. Risk aversion is another.

              If someone hires on-the-spot and something bad happens, guess who gets called onto the carpet.

            • @Kevin I cannot speak for others but our company cannot/will not hire unless that person has some sort of credible references and we compare the individual to others who have applied.

  6. Well, I lost my job today! Small company in the Travel sector. Some think it’s a blessing as it was a very toxic environment & poorly managed by the Owner. I’m very worried about finding a new position as I have been living paycheck to paycheck & can end up homeless…I also worry about getting infected & needing medical care.

    • Grace, I’m sorry that you lost your job.

      Wonder if any commenters live nearby who could help you.

  7. My company closed down our two HQ buildings- one in upstate New York and the other in Maryland, telling us everyone must work remotely. But our work is intense – we are in crisis mode due to the nature of our business . We continue for now, with meetings on Skype. The worry is not the white collar workers right now, but the front line services even within our buildings- cafeteria workers, the front desk people,etc.
    Last week, I applied for a job at Marriott and found out yesterday that in several divisions, they not only froze hiring, they froze all HR movement- one person who was to have a promotion go into effect March 12, had the promotion frozen too.

  8. In our area, K-college institutions are closed for distance leanring. Public employers have closed public access to their offices, and courts are closed. Private employers are sending their office employees to work from home. The roads are pretty empty for a workday.

    Two quick thoughts: first, guess what all of the newly homebound need? Internet access. I expect speeds to drop even further. Second. my company froze hiring. They chased the latest HR trend, co-locating. We lost out on talented peoeple across the country because they were unable to commute to an office. Now co-locating is not so important any more. They also ran out of VPN connections for the homebound early yesterday.

    • @Jim: Yes, in my area the town and city halls and offices are closed for 3 weeks, and the courts are closed, too. In my town, no one knows whether the land fill will be open. I would think that it would be. There’s no office, and since everything is outside, in the fresh air, and with plenty of room to practice social distancing, I can’t see a good reason to close it. Not letting people get rid of their trash will eventually create another kind of public health and health problem. I tried calling the town hall yesterday (their last day), but got no answer.

  9. We recently got an email from the CEO saying that unless ordered to by local/state authorities, we’ll continue operations as normal.

    Of course, we’re spread over several states, and our local authority just asked, but did not order, all non-essential businesses to close down. But HQ is not in an area with confirmed cases. So, I’m not sure if we’re closed or not. It’s all very uncertain.

    I’ve heard that numerous customers/suppliers in our industry have essentially banned all outside people from visiting. So, no sales calls, etc. Sounds like suppliers can pretty much drop off stuff, and that’s it.

    I wonder if companies that are requiring people to come into work in areas that have confirmed cases understand their liability. If they’re “non-essential” and they make people come into work, and someone gets sick and dies from catching it at work, that’s a lawsuit right there……watch for that to happen before this is over.

    Personally, I feel this is going to cause a very nasty recession before this is all over.

    • Had to go to the local Verizon store. They were only letting three people in at a time.

  10. Nick,

    Thank you for this topic – it’s definitely one I need right now.

    Background: I was working on a contract that was set to expire mid-March, but on Valentine’s Day the management team decided to terminate my contract early. Their reason? I wanted to do MORE than they were prepared for me to do. So they let go a motivated employee. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but at least they were up front with me and they also relayed the same message to the contracting company I was working for at the time.

    I started looking immediately and had lots of leads, but nothing concrete until suddenly two weeks ago a company was very interested. I had a phone interview and three days later in-person. They really wanted me and offered the position within an hour of my leaving the interview. I accepted the next day. Unfortunately there was a lot of “paperwork” that needed to be done to get me going, and everything was completed and they said I could start on Wednesday, March 18 (tomorrow). But then Monday morning I learned that they have put it on hold indefinitely because the company wants all their employees who can work from home to do so, and since that would be my entire team and most of the company in general, I cannot start and be onboarded. So it’s postponed, until when, we don’t know.

    They have been very communicative about it, which is good, but it’s frustrating that all these years I’ve worked in an industry that I could work from home (and many times I have) but the very time in which EVERYONE will be doing so, I don’t have a job. Kind of ironic.

    • @Michael: This depends on the job you were going to be hired for (it would have to be work-from-home-able), and it will probably go nowhere, but why not call the manager you would be working for if you were hired? I’d call rather than e-mail.

      “Look, I know this is out of the ordinary, but so is every day right now. I know you need a new hire to be onboarded and that’s more difficult remotely than in person. But I’ll tell you this: I’m a fast learner. I’m sure you have lots of work that cannot be left undone. I think I can come up to speed much faster than you could find someone to pick up the slack. Please give me a try. If you’ll let someone bring me up to speed on the job, I won’t let you down.”

      It’s worth a shot, eh? If you want to put a harder spin on it, offer that if you’re not up to speed within [x days], you won’t expect to get paid and you’ll quit. That’s putting your money where your mouth is. Of course, this is an extreme approach and you have to judge whether the manager and company have integrity.

      I base this suggestion on one educated guess: The manager really needs someone to do the work and can probably live with a slightly longer ramp-up time for a new employee.

    • @Michael: Please check Robert T’s comment below, about remote onboarding.

  11. I work from my basement, so that’s good. Very few needs to go out. (As an introvert I prepared for this moment my whole life!) Unfortunately, the wife and kids are here and it’s DADDY this and SWEETIE that all day.

    What surprised me was the sudden-onset of manic shoppers. Things were calm until Thursday; no shortages whatsoever. I went in Thursday afternoon for a few things and people were stacked up like cordwood. Rice, beans, bread, canned vegetables, meat, pasta & sauce, eggs, all paper products… totally wiped clean. What I was surprised were NOT stripped bare:

    * Multivitamins / vitamins in general
    * Cough & cold stuff – low, but not denuded
    * Fresh produce
    * Milk / dairy with the noted egg exception
    * Most frozen foods
    * Beer / wine

    My big concern is that my customer is overseas and I do not have a lot of faith in their not-first-world health care system.

    My wife just resigned from her PT teaching job and was supposed to start another one this Monday. Long term I think it’ll be OK but short term I doubt she’ll be starting any time soon.

    • @David Hunt PE, My wife is a retired special education teacher with a specialty in reading and language. With all the schools closed, there are opportunities to help out frazzled parents. She recently put on Facebook that she is available for distance teaching for at-home students, 1 on 1 via Skype or Zoom.
      Your wife may find something she can do for at-home students either through personal contacts or through referrals from the school district.
      Even in crises, there are opportunities. The truck drivers bringing food from the warehouses to the supermarkets are working overtime. The home-bound will need deliveries from the pharmacies. Amazon is hiring thousands of warehouse workers.

      • @Robert T: Thanks for the alternative ideas. Such jobs will likely pay less than people are accustomed to, but they are alternatives. I really like what your wife is trying to do.

    • @David Hunt PE: Yes, me too, and things were the same here. I’d had to stop to pick up a few items earlier last week, but when I did my regular shopping on Friday, I found many bare, bare, bare shelves. At my local Stop & Shop, there was no:
      Bread
      Eggs (nary a container to be found)
      Milk
      Canned soups, canned vegetables, canned baked beans, canned fruit, canned tuna
      Pasta sauce
      Pasta (not a single box on the shelves)
      Rice
      Quinoa
      Pilafs and other side dishes
      Box soups
      Box mac and cheese
      Toilet paper, paper towels
      Cleaning supplies
      Coffee
      Crackers
      OTC medications (aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, etc.)
      Items such as witch hazel and rubbing alcohol
      Cotton balls and q-tips

      But there was plenty of fresh produce, yogurt, the better (more expensive) cheese, and meat.

      At Walmart, it was even worse–there were no OTC medications at all, and a customer was yelling at the pharmacist because the customer had been told that Walmart didn’t have her prescription meds–they’re manufactured in China and production there had stopped or slowed. This Walmart doesn’t have a full grocery, so the shelves were even more bare than they were at the supermarket. I got the last loaf of bread, but there were no canned or boxed goods (soups, veggies, etc.). Another customer mentioned that she had seen someone with 15 bottles of Lysol, leaving none for anyone else. The only food that was plentiful was Easter candy. I went back the following day, and lucked out–they’d received a small shipment (as in only 4 boxes) of paper goods, including toilet paper. Walmart wasn’t officially setting limits, but the guys unpacking the boxes put a stop to one customer’s demands for every last package of toilet paper, letting him have one, just so there would be some for other customers.

      Other customers mentioned that the situation was no better at the two other supermarkets, a Big Y and a co-op. One mentioned that she had been at Target, and all of their groceries and cleaning supplies were cleaned out. I talked to a friend last Thursday, and she said that she and her husband had been shopping at Costco and BJ’s, said that their shelves were bare, too.

      So yes, people are panicking. The stores have put in additional orders, but the shipments aren’t getting there fast enough, and with people buying more than what they need for 2 or 3 weeks, they’re running out. And when you think about how much of our supplies come from overseas, I’m not surprised that stores can’t keep up with demand, because production was slowed in China, too.

      Like you, I was surprised by the manic shoppers. I live in Massachusetts, and I haven’t seen shelves bare like this even before a major nor’easter or blizzard. I’m taking the COVID-19 warnings seriously, and doing what I can to take reasonable precautions, but stocking up as if preparing for the zombie apocalypse or a nuclear bomb like they prepared in the 1950s is silly.

      The local Stop & Shop announced today that they’re setting aside hours for the elderly to do their shopping (from 6-7:30 am), and some stores are closing early so workers can restock shelves. When I was shopping last week, there were lines but people put more space between themselves and others, and it didn’t seem that bad.

  12. Nick:

    Upper MidWest … Wisconsin … Milwaukee area.

    IT.

    Am interviewing extensively and MOST, but not all, companies are standing behind their interviews albeit some have to postpone/reschedule because of internal overwhelmedness RE COVID-19, ie, for instance, the sudden rush of setting up everybody to work from home, etc.

    There are some companies here that, having nothing to do with COVID, seem to think it’s OK to “ghost” candidates after date/time interviews are already scheduled and set up … some name brand outfits like NorthWestern Mutual. However, this has nothing to do wih COVID, and I digress, albeit I believe it’s information that readers, people, and the world should know. “Ghosting” is a disgusting precursor of the true face of a company (or employee) and “dodging a bullet” comes to mind.

    In any event, as I continue to interview, I also offer my services to overwhelmed companies for free. I believe we as human beings need to unite and help one another. Sometimes, the almighty buck just doesn’t matter, and if you believe in a connected world as I do, you gotta do your part to keep it connected.

    Networking, systems, operations, datacenters, etc type guy … everything from security, storage, convergence, wireless, VOIP, virtualization, etc. to Cisco, MicroSoft, Linux, UNIX, Juniper, servers, workstations, mobile, routing, switching, LAN, WAN, etc., blah, blah, blah … anything and everything that keeps information flowing and keeps a connected world is what I do.

    I believe the human condition needs to help one another in troublesome times.

    My interviewing pipeline right now is packed, including a Senior position at Molson/Miller/Coors where the shooting recently took place.

    These are helluva times, these days. I cannot speak for anyone else but I’m the kind of guy who runs into the fire, not away from it. Kinda get a thrill that way.

    Not really worried about catching COVID … maybe I should be. I’ve had everything from ~4.5 week flu this season to a brain infection couple winter seasons ago. I’ve had the swine flu in 2009 and caught the cryptosporidium bug in 1993 and lived on the toilet. I am no stranger to weathering through severe illnesses and they do not at all frighten nor worry me. Winters are brutal in Wisconsin, typically, but this year is fairly mild and, with COVID breathing down our necks, mildness is welcome.

    Not really seeing that much difference one way or t’other around here in hiring, interviewing, etc. Lots of closings of PUBLIC sector entities including public schools, business gatherings and get-togethers, etc, but PRIVATE companies seem to be martialing on. Civil servants always seem to be the first to take the quickest easiest route out … although they still want the taxpayer-paid paycheck. Food pantries are remaining open and are continuing their front line fight against hunger and augmenting the poor, unemployed, etc. Kudos to those kind dedicated people, employees, and volunteers.

    Milwaukee is a strange bubble and place to live and do business wherein there are a lot of “farmer plowjockeys” who live and work here that have terribly elitist attitudes but have absolutely nothing to feel or be elitist about. It’s a xenophobic cliqueish exclusionary place many times bordering on blacklisting and discrimination.

    I don’t see that COVID is unifying Milwaukee at all but I don’t see it “tearing it asunder” either. In Milwaukee, life just seems to go on … blasé though it may be.

    … and there’s your “bicentennial minute (+44)”. (If yer a Child Of The 70s, you recognize this ;) …).

    • Thank you, SR, for offering companies help with their IT work right now. Beginning my work from home today, your post lifted my spirits. Thank you!

    • Does anyone out there have some (hopefully paying) IT work for SR? Or know someone that does?

      “Networking, systems, operations, datacenters, etc type guy … everything from security, storage, convergence, wireless, VOIP, virtualization, etc. to Cisco, MicroSoft, Linux, UNIX, Juniper, servers, workstations, mobile, routing, switching, LAN, WAN, etc., blah, blah, blah … anything and everything that keeps information flowing and keeps a connected world is what I do.”

    • Sorry you have such a low opinion of civil servants. I work for county government and with state and federal agencies and believe, me, we are working around the clock even though offices may be closed. It is truly inspiring to see how my colleagues have stepped up their already high game. We are out there on the front lines running public health and social services, making sure that the community organizations have staff and funding to get through this time. We contract out most services but are very involved in the efforts not to mention responsible for all of the emergency response.

      • @Kat: It’s the many dedicated govt employees we call “the deep state” that actually keep the joint running. I firmly believe that, and I thank you and others like you for what you do. There are certainly inept, opportunistic people in govt, just like there are in the corp world. In both cases, upper management (including elected politicians) can screw up an awful lot while the civil servants keep the joint running.

        • Thank you for your words of appreciation, we are out there every day making a difference!

  13. Hi Nick, I am self-quarantined in my house. I am an at-risk person, so I am doing ALL that I can to stay clear of the virus. My life / work has been extensive travel, international and US; training Federal Resume Writing to literally hundreds of people per month in government agencies and military bases! VERY exciting work and life for my business and me!

    BUT now…. here I am at home with my 3 dogs. I’m doing great. All live classes scheduled in agencies for the next 4 months are under consideration for webinars.

    NOW…I am going to teach some free webinars to stay in touch with people !! I posted 4 webinars two weeks ago – just in case I would be missing my crowds. They all sold out (free) in about 4 hours. So, I will keep active and in-touch with webinars, my newsletters, emails, Facetime with my grandkids everyday.

    I’ll share with you my next round of free Federal Job Search Webinars. Is the Fed Hiring? Yes, they are still hiring. It will slow down, but Feds telecommute just fine. Their computers and databases work at home. Resume Place is still open by email and phone ! stay safe everyone!

    • @Kathryn: Nice to hear from you! I was recently in DC, at a hotel near the Pentagon, explaining to my daughter that I did a workshop presentation there many years ago. If I recall correctly, that’s where we met.

      Folks: Kathy invented training for people seeking federal jobs. And literally wrote the book.

  14. I work for a government contractor that has contracts with various federal civilian and DOD agencies. My employer is continuing to hire as usual. Whereas our CEO just ordered everyone across the nation to telework if they can, it shouldn’t impact the hiring process because the interviews are mostly done via phone/Skye/Zoom anyway.

    I already telework because the federal facility I was stationed in has no more space, despite their new “open architecture” plan that crams people in like sardines. I’m not particularly worried about my job; the things I do for the federal agency are required by laws and regulations.

    I am worried about the safety of my federal employee colleagues because there are still required to show up to the office. This despite the fact that they are fully capable of teleworking and don’t interface with customers. The local county has a few confirmed COVID-19 cases, so it is undoubtedly infiltrating our city. None of us can guess what their agency leadership is thinking because the only guidance they’ve sent to their employees is “wash your hands” and “visit the CDC website.”

    We have the usual shortages of sanitizers, toilet paper, eggs, and milk. Apparently, we also fear a potato shortage. ;-)

    I’m very worried about the small businesses in town, friends who depend on the gig economy (freelance exercise trainers, Lyft/Uber drivers, musicians), the people who won’t get paid if they don’t work, and our first-responders and healthcare professionals. I’m upping my donation to the local food bank and looking for things I can do (from a distance!) to help our community weather this slow-moving catastrophe.

    Nick, I hope you and your family are doing well and staying safe in your community. Thank you for the forum and all that you do for your readers.

    • @Carol: Thanks to you and others who report taking extra measures to help others who are in more precarious positions — people who won’t get paid if they don’t work and have no real cushion.

      I dunno about a potato shortage… St. Patrick’s Day is just one day… :-)

      Thanks for your kind thoughts. We’re managing and trying to find ways to do more than that. It helps when the sun is out!

  15. Systems Administrator in the Atlanta suburbs here. I work for a small telecommunications company having physical offices in Atlanta GA, South Carolina, Costa Rica, Jamaica, and South Africa. We also have full-time remote workers in a couple other US cities (software development), Hong Kong (sales), and Indonesia (also sales).

    Most of us work from home 1 or 2 days a week anyway. We have all been asked to work from home for 2 weeks but our offices remain available. Those of us with long commutes are happily taking advantage and those who live nearby are still coming in but in-office headcount is about 3-5 people on any given day instead of 30-35 people.

    We have weekly company-wide video conferences anyway. Last Friday our Hong Kong and Indonesia folks were given the opportunity to share their stories of life near ground zero. “Social distancing” has been their new normal for a month now.

    I thank God that I’m working for a company that seems unlikely to be crippled by the seemingly inevitable economic downturn. Our platform is all about enabling businesses to communicate globally without being tied to a brick-and-mortar PBX. Our airlines customers in particular are handling a huge spike in call volume during this time.

    • @Eric Q: From what I see, very few companies have plans in place for remote work. They’re cobbling together tools on the fly. Seems to me that a company like yours, with its IT act together, could quickly spin off a separate business to sell its infrastructure tools. Kinda like what Amazon did when it created Amazon Web Services to sell what it had built for itself.

  16. Hey Nick

    Finding reliable information has been difficult, and only yesterday did I find some helpful things.

    First, this is not a killer virus. It is a stealth virus with unalarming symptoms and a long incubation period that allows it to spread so easily.

    Second, handwashing is still the best defense. I have germophobic siblings and friends who I no longer tease. They were actually onto something. Most have heard about the 20-second rule; I had to wash for a full minute before allowed into my sister’s home, way before any crisis. Some people change their clothes when they come home from work. This has actually been confirmed as a good idea, especially if you have to push your way through crowds.

    The word on masks is that if you do have the virus, it will help you not to spread it. Unless you are caregiving a sick person, a mask will offer negligible protection while you are out and about.
    Gloves, however, are not a bad idea. One of my stores has its cashiers all wearing gloves.

    The stock market was being silly about two weeks ago, so I pulled out half of my funds from a reputable mutual fund and put them into an insured account. I’m watching the other half very closely, and trying not to panic. This worked very well for the last meltdown, and I’m hoping it will work again. The same rules of investment apply: invest only what you can handle losing. My loss will be painful, but not catastrophic.

    I am retired at the moment, so going back to work doesn’t look like an option at the moment, but I don’t rule it out.

    This is not just a wake-up call, it is practice for when the real pandemic hits.

    • Yo, Citizen X — You have long been my go-to guy for research, which you’ve always been amazing at doing in-depth, and very generous about sharing So I take your comments and suggestions as valuable and on the money. Thanks, and be well, my friend!

  17. I’ve been driving a taxi FT for the past six months – most of my fares are airport runs because that’s where the money is (was), not $6 locals. As you might imagine, the bottom has fallen out with the recent situation. Monday mornings should be prime time for business travel, but last Monday travel was minimal (like for a holiday), and yesterday things were DEAD. I had one personal, but halfway to the airport he got a call canceling his planned trip. There are a few locals, and an abundance of drivers chasing those. The situation is not sustainable, and many drivers are quitting…I will probably be joining them, just to stop the bleeding with dispatch fees, number fees, and commercial insurance.

    Obviously our industry is highly dependant on the travel industry…the airlines may get a bailout, but we’re left hanging high and dry. Not even UI since we are independent contractors. Things are bleak, and the longer things drag on, the worse it will be.

    I’ve been trying to pick up freelance work, but that’s obviously a long-term solution, and of little help in the short term. I’ll probably see if I can get a factory job; I can contact my colleagues at the factory where I was working before I started driving if nothing else, but I don’t know yet if things are slow for them, and I’m not keen to go back there if there are other options.

  18. I do not want to be too much of a “downer” in these challenging times, but here is a succinct guideline I derived from my personal experience of being laid off 4 times over 11 years. Perhaps someone may find it of value as they evaluate their own present situation:

    “The more a company says to its employees, ‘We are family!’ in good times, the more likely they are NOT to act like family when things get tough.”

    Again, just saying from my own personal experience. Take it for what it’s worth.

    Bright side: Now I am owner of my own, sole proprietor, video production company. Superfluous “rah-rah” staff meetings are very short. ;-)

    • Hey, David! Thanks for dropping by! I can echo your caution about “family-type” companies. It’s the classic “name the problem” to pretend you don’t have the problem. Welcome to the “sole proprietor” club, where the boss will always over-work you. :-)

  19. Regarding the original question – How are companies coping with hiring and on-boarding? I work in software support for an international media / advertising company with headquarters in France and over 2000 people in North America so have some insight into the IT challenges but very little in HR. Our entire North America staff (and I assume Europe and Far East also) have been working from home since last Thursday. It started as a one-day test of our Business Continuity preparedness that had been scheduled a while back and accelerated for the circumstances. IT has been working like crazy to make sure every single employee had an updated and encrypted laptop to take home and secure multi-factor authentication to connect over secure networks to the local data servers so that everything would be seamless whether they were in the office or at home. Only 1 or 2 people who are responsible for the physical machines are present in the office or data center. EVERYTHING is being done remote. EVERYONE was forced to change passwords, etc.
    I do not know about hiring. My gut feeling is that people are too busy trying to get adjusted to work on that aspect of things. However, people who were hired and have yet to come to work are getting their machines pre-configured and sent to their homes. The on-boarding activities that were in-house are being scheduled to be done remotely via Zoom meetings. This alone is a learning curve. I have to credit the IT team with ramping up and making this happen. Even IT is learning as they go.

    • @Robert: Thanks for the IT side! It’s good to hear a story of good management.

  20. I live in Massachusetts. As of today, I’m once again unemployed. My employer decided to shut down entirely for a minimum of two weeks. As all of us except management were either part time or temps, there’s no paycheck. In my area/state, public K-12 schools have closed, at least through the end of March and many not reopening until April 8th. All of the local colleges and universities have closed, several sending all students home for rest of the semester, while a couple have extended spring break by one week, and are taking a wait and see approach. The biggest one in the area is done for the semester, leaving students scrambling and hitting poor students especially hard. All academic buildings and dorms are closed, all campus events cancelled. The schools have shifted to distance education so students can finish their courses online, but even that is a challenge for those taking lab science courses, dance courses, etc.

    Churches, synagogues, etc. have cancelled all religious services, education, and events. Restaurants are closed; some have indicated that they will be open for business, but it is take-out only. Nearly all of the public libraries in this area are closed, as are senior centers. Nursing homes are not permitting visitors. Hospitals and doctors are telling people to cancel all elective surgery; in the local newspaper today, there was a notice about a dental practice being closed for the next three weeks, with all appointments cancelled.

    The Boston and Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day parades (very big deals here in MA) have been cancelled; the Boston Marathon, which is always held on Patriots’ Day (3rd Monday in April) has been postponed until Sept. 14th.

    Movie theatres, sporting events, and other activities have been closed/cancelled. There are notices about which stores are closed–I’ve noticed that they’re the smaller stores, not the bigger ones or even the box stores/chains.

    Two local hospitals are building triage units outside their buildings, anticipating being overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients and not wanting them inside the hospital lest they spread the virus to people who are there for other reasons.

    The post office remains open, although last one one of the employees was wiping down the counters, door knobs, etc. She was wearing plastic gloves (as were the cashiers at the supermarket and Walmart), a mask, and a plastic garbage bag covering her from head to toe, with a small cutout so she could see. She wore a mask, too. I asked if she were ill, and she said no, she’s just worried.

    I’ve chatted with a number of former students who are officers in the USPHS Commissioned Corps and other public health and health care professionals, who offered sensible advice, which I’m taking. They’re worried about COVID-19, but they’re on the front lines and will be more exposed than most of us. Take sensible precautions, prepare but don’t stockpile, and that’s about all any of us can do while we wait this out. Of course, since testing has lagged, it is likely that more people have it than is being reported.

  21. Software Engineer in New York’s Southern Tier

    I’ve been unemployed since June — it’s been a scarce season but openings have been picking up this last month.

    I had a face-to-face interview with a small manufacturing company last week — no one mentioned The Virus and the desks & lab benches all seemed occupied. While it was very much on my mind, I didn’t bring up the issue for fear of jinxing the interview, so I really don’t know where they stand.

    I’m a robust 60-year-old and am not afraid of contracting Covid-19 personally, but it’s sure screwing up my world: I have many older, frail friends I can no longer prudently visit.

    Hang on to your good sense, do all that you can for yourself and your fellow Man, and it will work out. Godspeed.

  22. My day gig is in medical IT as a software engineer, and I’m working in a small departmental group at a major hospital in NYC. Our work is absolutely essential to day-to-day operations, and of course there will be no shortage of customers at the hospital, so there is no concern regarding losing our jobs. Starting today everyone who can do their jobs remotely – including me – started working from home. I feel badly for the two people who do hands-on support; they are still required to come in to the office, so they are somewhat more exposed than the rest of us.

    I am also a musician, and right now I’m caught between being thankful that I have my day gig, and feeling absolutely awful about many friends and business acquaintances in the performing arts and food service industries who are basically staring at the abyss right now. Practically all of them have suddenly lost their income for the next several months.

    I’m sure we’ll get through this plague, but there is going to be a lot of wreckage along the way, and I have a feeling there will be major economic repercussions for several years.

  23. Hi Nick and Community. I work for a major DIY retailer. I was very, very surprised to see the high number of customers in the store over the weekend, especially young parents with children. A couple times I said aloud to the line of customers at the paint desk, “What are you all doing here?!?” They just laughed. It’s hopeful to think they see a future beyond this crisis, as they prepare to complete in-home projects while hunkered down. One person said he just came in from Mexico the night before. I asked how is it that Mexico has not recorded any cases? He simply said, “strange but true.”

    Anyway, I see now I was concerned for myself. I decided to take a personal day on Monday – I called it covid-fatigue. I slept for almost 12 hrs straight! It has been such an intrusion for this extrovert. I felt awful having to keep distance from customers when they have pictures on cellphone about their project etc. I woke up in the middle of one night smelling the clorox on my hands from days of sanitizing.

    On a brighter note, yesterday afternoon I noticed a shift within me; found myself in space of peace and freedom. Still cautious, but no longer gripped by the fear generated by this crisis. I shared this aloud with my team. I saw it caught their attention. As I leader I had their well-being to be responsible for; to the degree that I can.

    I believe this innate presence was from two things. My employer announced 2 weeks additional paid time-off for FT and 1 week for PT employees; cashed out if not used by end of 2020. They presented a clear process for taking care of our people during this crisis. They announced early store closing to public only but associate schedule unchanged. I know they will recoup this cost via corporate bailout of one kind or another, but I am glad they are sharing it with us.

    Second reason, well, it was St. Patrick’s Day, so I’ll place the grace of peace and freedom on the Eternal. Blessings to all of you, Gladys

  24. Marybeth- How your story yet again resonates with me! 10 years ago, when I was out of full-time work for 14 months, my savings were gone, and my UI benefits were exhausted (was not qualified for the Obama extensions), and all I could land was a little part-time gig. One day, I walked into a local Auto Zone to get a quart of oil for my Jeep. I saw they were hiring, and a sign instructed candidates to inquire within (followed by a dreaded online application). I saw pallets upon pallets of inventory on the floor, and no one stocking the shelves. After paying for my oil, I asked to speak to the manager (the very guy who’d just rung up my sale). The guy appeared to be in his fifties (I was 53 by then). I was told to wait while he was standing at the counter on the phone talking to an obviously young employee. I overheard where the young man had missed two days the previous week, and he was calling in because he wanted to “hang out with his buddies”. The manager finally conceded and told the young man “we have a lot of inventory that needs stocking, but if you need to hang out with your buddies, I guess you can do that. We’ll see you tomorrow “. As soon as he hung up, I told the manager about my predicament, and that I was looking for an additional part-time job. He smirked at me, scoffed, and flat out told me to my face publicly that “you’re too old, you can’t perform the job stocking shelves and sweeping, and that you’ll be a liability”. At that point, I was accustomed to, and ambivalent to such responses. This after he’s just rung me up for the quart of oil I bought, Tempted to ask for a refund, I walked out, and never entered that store again, nor any other Autozone ever. The points both David Hunt, and Nick Corcodilos bring up are very valid. I’d add, soft managers who don’t “manage” (as was this guy at this clown show Autozone), and no sense of discernment, just fill out an impersonal online application, and role the dice. People in life, and on this site, say “lawyer up and sue” (blatant ageism publicly excoriating me), but you can’t sue everyone for every egregious act in life, or every time you’re insulted. I vote with my $ and my feet, so no business to Autozones period! The further rub, shortly after my Autozone experience, I went into a local O’Reilly Auto. That time, the twenty-something manager laughed me off and dismissed me. The kicker was, a customer came up and asked about how to use gasket sealant on a gasket when replacing a thermostat on his vehicle. The very kid who laughed me off replied curtly “I don’t know, man, I don’t know anything about cars”. Huh??

    • @Antonio: Your O’Reilly Auto story is priceless.

    • @Antonio Zoli: Wow…that takes first prize for arrogance, rudeness, and stupidity. Unfortunately, your experience is all too common for us older workers. So that manager would rather let the kid take the time off to hang out with his buddies, let the pallets and supplies remain unpacked, than hire you, who wanted to work and would have showed up, done the job, and hung out with your buddies AFTER work hours. And I fail to see how you’d be a liability if you’re just stocking and sweeping! Anyone of any age can get injured on the job, not just older workers. I’ve worked with young people (as in their 20s and 30s) who have thrown out their backs or fallen and been injured. If they’re injured on the job, that’s what workers compensation insurance is for. In my state (Massachusetts), all employers are required to have it, it covers all employees (full time, part time, temporary), and you the employee don’t have to do anything to sign up for it (coverage is automatic after you’ve been there 30 days), and if you don’t want it, you have to opt out of it (and then you’re injured, you have to sue your employer). Years and years ago, I was injured on the job, and not only took a trip to the hospital in the ambulance, spent time in the ER, and then had plastic surgeon fix my injury, but all of those costs were covered by workers’ compensation. None of it came out of my insurance, so there were no minimum deductibles to meet, no co-pays.

      You’re right about not suing. Yes, it is age discrimination, but these cases, even with tons of proof, are very difficult to win. Many attorneys are reluctant, and will outright refuse, to take them.

      But you’ve found another way–by voting with your feet and with your wallet, and you’ll find another business to patronize in lieu of Autozone. I was at my local Autozone last month (needed a new car battery) and they were fine (put the new battery in for me, took my old battery so I didn’t have to get rid of it), but I wasn’t asking about employment. The only reason I went there instead of Plumb Auto is because the former would put the battery in for me and take the old one off my hands, while Plumb Auto wouldn’t. I’ve never put in a new car battery, and was afraid that I’d screw it up (I didn’t trust myself). I watched the guy put it in, and hope that when my mom needs a new battery for her car, I’ll be able to do it for her.

      I’m older, and wonder too why employers prefer the young no-shows to the older responsible ones. And like you, I’ve decided that the best way to make my displeasure felt is to patronize other businesses, if I can. Maybe that is the only way–to hit them where it hurts (their profits). Writing to corporate doesn’t seem to do any good.

      • Marybeth- I’m not sure why employers hire and retain subpar workers in lieu of dependable and engaged workers (older workers). When I was a younger man of 35, I was unemployed after a tumultuous 3 year stint in the office of a small steel company working for one of the most abusive sociopaths I’d ever come across (a heavy smoker, he died an agonizing death from lung cancer in 2006, from what I heard). I needed to meet the rent on a pricey loft apartment I had foolishly leased in an old revitalized warehouse district in my city, and UI wasn’t cutting it, even then, when it wasn’t taxed. I saw a classified ad for production workers at a local steel tube mill located across the Missouri River from my loft, so it was close. I filled out an application in person (back in the day, you could still do this), stapled a one page resume to it, and went onto my next stop in my job search. Surprisingly, I was called in for an interview soon after. I waited for my turn in the lobby with a group of other men. I was the only candidate who’d dressed up; wore a nice pair of dockers, button down long sleeve shirt, black belt and black Oxford dress shoes, fresh haircut, and wore cologne. The two young women at the receptionist desk evidently noticed this. When my turn came up, both young women escorted me into the conference room, and informed the Plant Manager and the Production Supervisor that “you should hire this guy, he’s the only guy that even bothered to dress up for the interview”. After giving it my best shot, and having good qualifications and skills, I could see that they weren’t interested, despite the receptionists endorsement. I think some industries have a propensity to hire anyone who has “a pulse and can fog a mirror”, and they equally and adamantly reject anyone who even remotely is a click above this. I’ve worked in two different scrap metal yards over the past 13 years, and I’ve seen this countless times in this industry. True story; they were looking for a cashier at my workplace. Ran an Indeed ad. Low pay and mediocre benefits. Brought in a 20 year old woman with a string of short lived jobs over the previous two years. She showed up for an interview scheduled at 10:00 AM in her pajamas, slippers, uncombed hair, and disheveled. Yawned numerous times during the interview. They actually offered her the job (huh?), she accepted, then ghosted on her first day. I guess employers get what they deserve.

  25. Infodemic

    Finding reliable information on anything is difficult, and this crisis is no exception, as Reuters reports that our friends in Russia are planting false reports in at least five different languages. (A European Union watchdog lists at least 80 so far.)

    Fortunately, a respected American organization formerly maligned by a high government official (the same official who cut funds to this organization and disbanded its White House advisory board circa 2017/2018) has dedicated its home page to the crisis, giving reliable information about the virus and steps to take to protect yourself and diminish its spread.

    http://www.cdc.gov

    This hot tip was given to me by my grocery chain, who emailed its customers about the steps it was taking to prevent the spread of the virus, accommodate our vulnerable citizens, inhibit hoarding by establishing purchasing limits, and keeping its supply chain unbroken.

  26. I’m long-term unemployed and now looking after my 90 year-old mother (and have had a few months-long stints doing the same over the past 3-4 years).

    So for the duration of this virus, I’m screwed unless I can get some work from home gig. I don’t dare go out for an interview, much less work amongst others in any work environment, lest I catch the virus and pass it on to my mother.

    • @Bill Freeto: I’ve taken on more mom duties since my father died 5 years ago. My mom will be 80 later this year, and while she’s still in relatively good health for her age, there are more and more things that she can’t do and with which she needs help. So that’s me. And like you, I’m thinking about how I can minimize my exposure in order not to expose her to the virus. There were two cases of the virus confirmed in my county today, at the local hospital. Of course, there aren’t enough tests, so I suspect the number of people who have the coronavirus is higher than the official, reported numbers. Your mom and mine are both in the high risk group due to their ages. So yes, what you’ve decided to do makes sense (a work from gig).

  27. While I don’t wish anyone bad will, I don’t recall much clemency, nor sympathy, for displaced (mostly male)factory workers and construction workers this last recession, as compared to the now displaced service workers. I recall a statement from Nancy Pelosi that went something like “displaced factory workers can use their time of unemployment to become artists, sculptors, and musicians”. The disconnect here is mind numbing.

    • Ahh yes the “deplorables”

      • Retired, I’d say you’ve been around the block a few times in your day, and yeah, the media (and the many misinformed and gullible do-gooders) are harping this is the most vile and egregious thing to come down the pike, now that service sector workers are displaced. I saw no quarter for the men in manufacturing and construction kicked to the curb by the tens of thousands in this last mancession (I was one of them). It was “(expletive) happens”, “serves them right”, “so what”. Funny, these media sources (Buzzfeed, Slate, Huff Post, etc.) have laid off staff in droves, and there’s been screaming bloody murder over it. Where exactly were they when the manufacturing and construction guys were toast?

        • Depending on where you live, there should be an American Jobs Center. It is possible to get free training in a new field. We have unions desperate for apprentices, they can start at very good wages with benefits and provide on the job training. A friend’s husband in rural Wisconsin lost his factory job and retrained at the age of 60 to be an HVAC technician and immediately found a great job nearby. It only took 4 months of training – he had a lot of skills already, so was not starting from scratch. He is still there 5 years later. A bonus is that it is far less taxing on him physically that the factory job.

  28. Perhaps this will cheer folks up a bit during these trying times: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzfTrr67ItM

  29. Both my husband (embedded systems engineer) and son (software developer) were hired recently by large companies, both will have salaries over $150,000, both start at the beginning of April. Son will be onboarded remotely, not sure about husband yet.

    My work (local government) just instituted a hiring freeze which may allow the current in processes to finish – good news for me as we are mid-interviews for several positions. Everyone is working remotely that can, front line staff is still seeing clients in need but with all precautions taken.

    We are buying gift certificates to all of the small businesses we normally patronize and making extra donations to the charities helping with basic needs.

    Thanks for checking in!

    • @Kat: Thanks for sharing some positive stories! It’s not all doom and gloom, and we cannot let it be.

  30. Wired Magazine

    Click onto this background article/interview posted 3-19-2020. Should be able to sign up for free newsletter with updates.

    Stay safe.

    https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-interview-larry-brilliant-smallpox-epidemiologist/

  31. I am on dialysis. We get a letter to carry with us stating we can go to/from center and I can get groceries/supplies (on the way to/from dialysis. I guess not being able to work does have it’s perks. Here are a couple of items to watch for your viewing pleasure:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c09m5f7Gnic

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_066dEkycr4

  32. I started a new job in January, going from one unit of a large multinational publicly traded company to a small (multinational) privately owned company. While I changed industries, both places are considered essential businesses and are still open. My former employer eventually made those who can work from home do so. Took too long IMO but at least they did. Those who must work on-site are prohibited from shift work because “it didn’t work” when previously tried (read: didn’t boost finances). As a result, many are crammed too close together. Meanwhile, my new employer has gone to lengths for social distancing, including making my group stagger shifts to avoid contact. Even with reduced hours, we are paid the same.

    I am so glad I got this new position. The only regret I have about leaving my former position in this regard is that I am not there to vocally shame them on their irresponsible behavior.

    That said, I recognize that I am fortunate to have such a good employer, let alone to still have a job. I am trying to do my part in supporting small local businesses and I have seen many acts of kindness in my small community during these troubled times. We will get through this together, by staying apart.

    • @Jay: Glad to hear about an employer that seems to be doing the right thing. Kindness goes a long way these days :-).

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