TV’s ‘Lou Grant’ Hated Spunk, but People Can Use it to Get a Job

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Greg Markley

By GREG MARKLEY

Versatile actor Ed Asner died on Aug. 29 at age 91. He won seven Emmy Awards for playing the same character — a crusty boss named Lou Grant with a less-seen sympathetic side. In the Mary Tyler Moore Show in the early 1970s, Moore starred as a timid associate producer for a TV station in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

At one point, Mary Richards (Moore) challenges Grant, impressing him.

He says: “You got a lotta spunk.” She replies: “Why thank you, Mr. Grant.” His

response is: “I HATE spunk.” Although Alabama’s and the U.S.’s economy are doing well, they would improve with more jobs filled, by spunk or for subsistence.

It was announced recently that Alabama’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted July 2021 unemployment rate is 3.2%, down from June’s rate of 3.3%. Alabama remains below the July national rate of 5.4%. Opelika had 13,761 employed and 521 unemployed in July. Lee County had 72,761 employed, 2,111 unemployed.

 “The Alabama Career Center System continues to connect employers and job seekers through local and regional job fairs,” explained state Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington. “Collaborative community events are targeting industry sectors that still need employees and job seekers looking for new or better opportunities.”

He added that the average weekly wage for the private sector was up a colossal $64.16 over the year.

But there are still situations where employers cannot hire enough workers to maintain their momentum or even their businesses. At Mrs. Story’s Dairy Bar, an Opelika institution, a lack of employees and the threat caused by COVID led it to close. Owners said they would decide whether to open again, or close for good.

The McDonald’s on Magnolia Avenue is open inside sometimes, and at other times, only Drive Thru is accepted. This is not the fault of the dedicated employees who do show up to work, but to others who quit in the first week or two for a better job. I was there the other day at 6 a.m. for breakfast; my car was at home. Thank goodness this McDonald’s has outdoor seating; I must have looked funny, though, surrounded by cars when ordering my meal, without a car!

Able-bodied persons who make things difficult for small and large businesses by not participating in the workforce may not realize their own role. Not only do all these non-workers hurt America’s economy, in a macro sense; if duplicated in other countries they contribute to global economic problems. Growth in the Opelika-Auburn axis continues, but it could grow faster if employees were hired sooner rather than later.

Individuals mostly take jobs out of necessity, but they often look ahead to find a job that better fits their personality, skills and education. It’s not just the money — they want a recognized role, whether as the reliable barista at Starbucks or as the delightful Uber driver. Companies must find new employees by combining a decent salary with benefits and opportunities for career and personal growth.

A key reason young people are not searching for a job right now is fear of getting Covid or its Delta Variant. This is a genuine concern when working in areas such as fast food where everyone works close-by. Or, as I often see, as a day wears on, employees’ move their masks down because of the human need for fresh air. I hope that getting vaccinated will build people’s confidence in getting a job.

Another reason people may not feel they need to work right now is government largesse. The American Rescue Plan provided further relief, following on a previous Act, to help people with costs of not working during the lockdowns or who had other emergency needs related to Covid-19. That money has run out for most people, and bills for evictions are coming due soon.

In a classic scene in Ghostbusters (1984), company secretary Janice Melnitz (Annie Potts) interviews Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) for a job. He is asked whether he believes in many supernatural occurrences and beings (such as UFOs and the Loch Ness Monster).

 His answer: “If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say.” He got the job and Hudson will continue his Ghostbusters work in 2021. If any readers are hesitant to apply for a job, jump into employment anyway. The world of work is waiting. Just beware of a boss like Lou Grant who hated spunk.

Greg Markley first moved to Lee County in 1996. He has Masters’ in education and history. He taught politics as an adjunct in Georgia and Alabama. An award-winning writer in the Army and civilian life, he has contributed to the Observer for 11 years.  gm.markley@charter.net      

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