Carnes: Views we have … workers, not so much
Although some might beg to differ, the worldwide phenomenon known as COVID-19 hit our little valley just as hard as the rest of the planet, the only exception being we always had remarkable views to help temper the impact a little.
And we still do.
So for those visiting as the summer kicks off this week, know that you are a welcomed guest to our party, but realize we are having many of the same issues you are having back wherever your home is, especially when it comes to staffing.
Sure, we can all blame state and federal unemployment checks for deterring some from seeking employment, and while valid to a point, a bigger issue in Happy Valley, which has been building in intensity for at least the last three decades, is the cost of living.
But then again, we have those views.
A quick peak in the current local classifieds shows almost 200 job listings, with many offering multiple positions available, while at the same time the average one-bedroom rental with a shared bathroom is around $1,200.
Quite a chunk of change for those making $12 an hour.
Thus the above combines to play a major role into why the traditional service guests have come to expect — and in many cases, demand — might not be up to our usual standards this summer.
Just about every local business I know is in need of workers at some level. Restaurants and bars need servers, bartenders and kitchen help. Jeep tour and river rafting and fishing guides need, well, guides. Retail shops need salespeople, hotels need front desk and housekeeping staff, landscaping companies need landscapers, construction firms need electricians, plumbers, etc. and even local towns are looking for government workers of all shapes and sizes.
While we may have 99 problems, unemployment ain’t one of ‘em.
Neither are mass shootings and traffic of course, but perhaps that’s taking things a bit out of context.
Anyway, while you’re here pay no attention to snow.com, which as of last Saturday was only updated to the point that it was announcing the closing of the ski mountain on April 18 (they’re usually a tad more prompt), but if you do scrub through the vail.com site, you eventually find that the Lionshead Gondola opens in just a few weeks on June 19 and the same for the chairlift in Beaver Creek.
While our used-to-be-annual “Vail America Days” parade is basically a no-show for the second year in a row, we’ll still be having the Vail Arts Festival, Vail Farmers Market & Art Show, Vail Craft Beer Classic and — hooray — the GoPro Mountain Games are only one weekend away.
We have golfing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, fly fishing and all the other usual suspects offering services, and most, if not all, are still searching for workers.
You’re here to enjoy mountain views, mountain air, mountain folk, mountain food, mountain beer, mountain shopping and free parking (during the day), and if you happen upon an establishment politely asking for masks to be worn, enter or don’t, but do not blame the worker simply playing by the rules set by their employer.
Pull out your phone, take photos, post to your heart’s content and enjoy your time in Vail, in Colorado, in our beautiful Rocky Mountain enclave where a limited number of us are fortunate enough to call home, in spite of the expense and limited workforce.
Be patient and enjoy the views.
Richard Carnes, of Avon, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.