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  • Kevin Lamport

Goodbye 2022, hello 2023 - A blog, in 1000 Words or Less


2022 started in a much different way than it ended...sort of. The year began with problems associated with a terrifying new word (a word that has since become commonplace in our vocabulary), and ended with an entirely new set of problems that blossomed from that same word:


Omicron.


Twelve months ago, Covid restrictions that had eased through the fall of 2021, were returning. After the Christmas break for example, schools in BC opened later in January than scheduled because, if you payed attention to Theresa Tam or the CBC (an ear bleeding proposition, I know), Covid was coming for you. We were all one breath away from horrific death if we didn’t mask up and sanitize regularly.


Wait…was that one year ago? Because it sounds a great deal like the messaging we’re hearing today. A high number of children are home sick. Worried parents can’t get the medicines they need because pharmacy shelves are empty. Consequently, parents are bringing the fevered wee ones to the hospital, where an under pressure medical system struggles to handle them…


…therefore, society should mask up and consider lock downs once again, even though the poor sick kiddies don’t have Covid, lock downs created bigger problems than they solved and an estimated seventy to eighty percent of the Canadian population has contracted Covid, even though we all wore masks for a year and a half.


I can’t connect the dots.


Along with a terrifying word, we learned some maddening new phrases, one that I suspect has become a convenient excuse for a great number of vendors: “Supply chain issues.”


I visited a Nissan dealer in October. The vehicle I was interested in wasn’t available on the lot. Since I wasn’t ready to buy something I’d neither seen in person nor test driven, the salesman I spoke to couldn’t have been less interested. He refused to tell me what the vehicle would cost or what the interest rate would be. He didn’t try and sell me something I didn’t want. He didn’t ask if I had a trade-in. In short, he didn’t do any of the usual car salesman things that annoy everybody who isn’t a car salesman. That sounds okay, right? Except, he wasn’t doing as expected because he was a “good guy.” Rather, since I wouldn't slap a five hundred dollar down payment on his desk, I wasn’t a client worth exerting any effort on.


I can’t blame him. With only one unit coming into his dealership in the immediate future, he didn’t have to work to sell me something. He knew someone else would be in the next day, someone who did have five hundred dollars in his pocket. Supply chain issues are making a car salesman’s job much easier. He took my phone number. I haven’t heard from him since.


I’ve subsequently been told by other salesman, that if a person wants a certain colour or option package (or God forbid both at the same time), the wait for that vehicle commonly stretches up to eight months. The days of going to a car dealership, looking at five variations of the vehicle you want and then taking it for a test drive, are over.


Even if you get the vehicle you want, it might be missing parts, thanks to supply chain issues. One individual I know bought a new truck with a wide-ranging option package, including heated seats, except due to the microchip shortage, he was told he’ll have to wait indefinitely for that feature to be installed.


The other phrase we’ve come to know and hate is, “Staff shortage,” and has that ever become a problem. The joke of course is, “Where did everybody go?” Apparently, many people in the older demographic retired. But what happened to people who worked in entry level jobs? The KFC in my town had to reduce their hours, limit their menu options and offer a signing bonus. The Dairy Queen locked the front door and only operated the Drive Thru. When restrictions eased and the coffee shop I enjoy re-opened, the manager called her former employees. Not a single one came back to work. Not one. The employees who gave the manager the courtesy of a return phone call said they didn’t want the job anymore. One employ said she might be interested but followed up with a laundry list of conditions including:


“I won’t start before 9:00 AM because I can’t get out of bed that early,” and,


“I won’t work on Sunday because I don’t like to.”


When the manager told her those conditions weren’t necessarily realistic, the young lady said, “In that case, I won’t be back.”


The auto parts store in my home town is closed on weekends due to staff shortages. Hopefully someone who works a nine-to-five job between Monday and Friday, doesn’t need to do an oil change on his days off.


Thanks to incompetence and ambivalence…uhm, I mean staffing issues…in Canadian passport offices, many thousands of Canadians were unable to travel when they were finally re-allowed the privilege. Those who did travel, assuming their flights weren’t cancelled, faced multiple hour waits in security line-ups, and on the return trip, multiple hour delays getting through customs. Happily, the always perceptive and ever insightful Omar Alghabra was there to explain to us, the unwashed, out-of-practice traveller, that the chaos was entirely our fault.


Blaming staff shortages, BC Ferries canceled numerous sailings. Happily for them, parking a half empty boat during a little traveled time of day, would have saved several thousand dollars of diesel fuel.


Speaking of fuel, the price tag on that commodity reached all-time record highs, thanks in no small part to relentlessly increasing taxes. The federal and provincial governments could control that to a degree, obviously. However, middle-class warriors, Justin Trudeau and John Horgan (recently replaced by David Eby), claim there’s little they can do. They blame the war in Ukraine and promise relief via GST rebates and a reduction in child care costs. I guess they buy into the idea that a lie told often enough becomes truth. For everybody else in the country, the truth is in the virtue signalling carbon tax Justin introduced at a time when the level of consumer prices is rising consistently and rapidly, and the purchasing power of money is in freefall.


If the price of fuel wasn’t such an enormous problem (in that it pulls the cost of everything else up), it might be entertaining watching these two leaders of the common man mislead, ramble and obfuscate like a drunk guy at a party who talks nonsensically to guests patient enough to listen to him or too slow to avoid him.


A year ago, Covid restrictions were real. It seems doubtful we’ll face them again, despite what the alarmists are demanding. So, that’s good news. Instead, we have a different set of problems. Grown out of the Covid response, today’s problems are no less challenging than last year’s but they are much harder to grapple with: it’s not like we can social distance, mask up and sanitize regularly as a way to effectively combat supply chain issues, staffing shortages, fuel costs and rampant inflation. In 1979, the American president, Jimmy Carter, was told his aggressive approach to curbing inflation would cost him a second term. He did it anyway and lost his re-election bid. Different country, a myriad of different factors, but massive debt, a slowing economy and high inflation were the same then as they are now. Fixing these issues will take far longer than the two-and-a-half years the pandemic lasted.


Fortunately, the man-child is competent and serious. He’ll pull up his fanciful, multi-coloured socks and get to work, making the same kind of hard decisions Carter did, based on the good of the country and not his own political ambitions, woke self-interests, personnel agenda…


…sorry. I couldn’t complete that sentence without laughing hysterically.


Since we’re finishing with a laugh on an upbeat note, and I’m a frustrated optimist at heart, who’d rather put the problems on a shelf, I’ll leave you with a couple of feel good thoughts for 2023:


Jamie Lee Curtis has been awesome since the first Halloween movie in 1978,


When Seth Myers imitates Trump-the-Orange-Clown on A Closer Look, he’s side splittingly funny,


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9YoWYekS0Y&list=PLJaq64dKJZoqsh7PGGUi-SARV4wUz_lVa&index=5


Read Billy Summers, an excellent and moving novel by Stephen King,

Go see Top Gun: Maverick for pure fun at the movies,


For a nostalgic hit that will make you laugh (and shake your head at the absurd eighties styles), watch the video It doesn’t Really Matter, by Platinum Blonde (or something similar from the era),


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLYNL5juSh0


Give yourself goosebumps and listen to Heart cover Stairway to Heaven,


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


Kill time on a drive with topical, educational and humorous podcasts: Full Comment, Under the Influence and No Such Thing as a Fish.


Look forward to a sunnier 2023. I can’t wait to drink whiskey on a deck and beers beside a pool in the Okanagan, ride my dirt bike in the interior, hike on the island with nearby friends and those from as far away as Montreal, visit Anchorage for the first time, see Brad Paisley perform another stadium concert, vacation somewhere spectacular with my wife, and hopefully experience something as impactful as the Kilimanjaro trip I did with my father and niece.


Next year has to be better than the previous three. I sincerely hope you can turn the lights off on the challenges we're facing and instead enjoy silly, special and impactful moments of your own. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, one and all!


Kevin


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