Coachella Valley Independent

Indy Digest: Nov. 29, 2021

I spent parts of five years—from the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, through my senior year of college—working at the Reno, Nev., location of the late, lamented Toys “R” Us.

It was … an interesting experience. The pay was terrible—and you haven’t lived until you’ve broken up a fight between two soccer moms over a Tickle Me Elmo.

But other than some rare kerfuffles, and the occasional dirty diaper one would find left in a shopping cart in the parking lot, the job was otherwise fine. Customers were pleasant, rare fighting soccer moms aside, and I was never, ever afraid to walk into the store.

But this retail stint of mine happened in the 1990s. Today, in 2021, things are very different.

Last week, The Conversation published an article by a team of researchers from the University of Arizona with this disturbing headline: “Grocery workers suffer the mental health effects of customer hostility and lack of safety in their workplace.” An excerpt:

It comes as no surprise that customer hostility plays a significant role in the mental health of grocery workers. Over time, shoppers have become increasingly rude, to the point that interactions with customers are now often contentious and occasionally violent.

More than half of the grocery workers we heard from believe that they will be verbally threatened by an angry customer at some point during the pandemic. Employees are often on their own when it comes to getting customers to observe basic public health measures and be civil. Many lack support from management in enforcing the public health guidelines that serve to keep them, their families, coworkers and customers safe.

Leanne—a pseudonym—a young employee who has worked at a major grocery chain for three years, told us about her struggles with abusive behaviors on the job, in particular with respect to mask-wearing.

“Customers have come right into my personal space and leaned in to tell me why they’re not going to wear one—politics, uncomfortable, too hot, can’t breathe, their medical condition, etc. But I wear mine correctly for eight hours every day … to protect THEM.”

Hear hear, Leanne.

Over the weekend, a picture of a sign posted at a local restaurant made the rounds on social media. It said: “We are very short staffed! Thank you for your patience. If you are out of patience, please ask for a job application.”

Hear hear, sign!

A well-functioning job market (for businesses, if not employees) has spoiled us as consumers in recent decades. In can be startling to see a favorite restaurant have limited hours or slower service, and it can be annoying to find eight to 10 carts in a supermarket check-out line. But that’s our current reality—but no customer service worker should be subjected to hostility or violence at their workplace. Ever.

—Jimmy Boegle

From the Independent

Welcome to the ‘60s! Andrew Levitt, aka Nina West, Discusses Starring in the National Tour of ‘Hairspray’

By Jimmy Boegle

November 27, 2021

Hairspray represents the return of theater to the McCallum for the first time since that heinous virus arrived. We talked to the production’s Edna Turnblad, Andrew Levitt, aka Nina West.

A New Goth Scene: Luna Negra’s Goals for Its Events at Bart Lounge—Showcase Great Performers, and Create Community

By Matt King

November 29, 2021

Edgar and Karla—better known as Luna Negra—have been working on creating a goth scene in the Coachella Valley for 2 1/2 years.

Beatles Bliss: Peter Jackson Has Taken Unseen Footage of the Fab Four Filmed in 1969—and Created a Masterpiece

By Bob Grimm

November 29, 2021

The Beatles: Get Back is a gift from music lover’s heaven.—almost eight hours of never-before-seen Beatles goodness.

The Indy Endorsement: The French Dip Sandwich at Michael’s Café

By Jimmy Boegle

November 29, 2021

The plate of food pictured here has no pretention. None of the ingredients are rare or hard to find. Nonetheless, it was about as enjoyable as a meal could possibly be.

Best of Coachella Valley Winners’ Advertising Spotlight!

More News

Our partners at CalMatters take a look at the steps the state is taking to watch for, and ultimately deal with, the omicron variant. Key quote: “(Gov. Gavin) Newsom’s administration is already ramping up its response to the omicron variant, though it hasn’t yet been detected in the U.S. and it’s not yet clear if it’s more transmissible or deadlier than other forms of the virus. The California Department of Public Health said Sunday that it plans to increase COVID-19 testing at airports serving travelers from southern Africa, track the variant through genetic sequencing, and continue to promote vaccines and booster shots.”

• Meanwhile, to the Coachella Valley’s west, the city of Los Angeles is going to start enforcing one of the country’s strictest vaccine requirements. The Los Angeles Times explains: “The city (of Los Angeles) requirement—which applies to indoor restaurants, movie theaters, hair and nail salons, coffee shops, gyms, museums, bowling alleys and performance venues, among other spaces—has been in place for the last three weeks. But officials opted to temporarily hold off on citing or fining those who ran afoul of the regulations, saying they would start with educational and outreach efforts to make sure businesses understood what the rules were and how to comply. … Now, that grace period is over. Businesses or venues that flout the rules will face penalties—a warning to start, then an escalating series of fines starting at $1,000 and topping out at $5,000 for a fourth or subsequent violation.”

• Moving from COVID-19 to the housing crisis: The Southern California News Group (which includes Riverside’s Press-Enterprise) has released its third annual statewide housing permit report card … and the grades ain’t good. A snippet: “To meet state-mandated goals to provide housing to people at all income levels, cities and counties would have needed to permit roughly 145,000 new homes last year. About 17% should have been affordable to medium-income buyers and renters, while the rest should have been split about evenly between higher and lower affordability. In reality, cities and counties reported issuing about 109,000 housing permits in 2020, a decline from recent years. About 11% of those units were moderately priced and 16% were in reach of lower-income residents. The other 73% were to build homes that would be affordable only to higher-income households—or that would force people to spend too much of their income on living there or cram too many people into too small of a space.”

• Related: Our friends at the Palm Springs Post, using data from the Palm Springs Regional Association of Realtors, report that an average home in Palm Springs is now selling for well over a million bucks. Yeesh. Some details: “The median sale price of an average size single-family home in Palm Springs (2,175 square feet) in October was $1,175,878—up 34.7 percent from the October 2020 median price of $872,675, and 263 percent above the average price of $323,879 during a slump in 2011. Average size condominiums and townhomes (1,250 square feet) in the city sold for a median price of $371,392 in October—an increase of 21.7 percent compared with one year ago. Across the entire Coachella Valley, the price of an average single family home continued to rise compared to last October—averaging $600,000 in October 2021, compared to $527,500 in October 2020. Condominium and townhome prices in the Valley also continued to increase, with an average sale price of $370,000 compared to $310,000 a year ago.”

• Perhaps you need another job to afford a home in the Coachella Valley. Well, we have some good news for you: The airport is having a job fair tomorrow. The details, from a news release: “Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) is holding a second job fair to help 14 tenants hire nearly 100 people for their PSP business locations. There are many full-time and part-time positions available from companies such as Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, Hertz, Signature Flight Support, Transportation Security Administration, Atlantic Aviation, and more. Open positions include aircraft line maintenance, airline ramp agents, airline customer service agents, cashiers, taxi drivers, servers, cooks, supervisors, and rental car sales agents to name a few. Some jobs even come with flight benefits! … Job seekers may visit PalmSpringsAirport.com/JobFair to view a complete list of all companies participating in the job fair. Applicants should bring plenty of resumes and be prepared to interview at the job fair, which will be at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Tuesday, Nov. 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• A couple of fun events worth noting: The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert’s annual Paws n Claus Annual Pet Food Drive and Winter Social is back! It’ll take place at Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 6. The Facebook invite says: “Dress you and your pets in festive costume, or your worst Xmas sweater, bring some pet food to donate to those pets in need, and get your picture snapped with our helpful elves!”

• The official opening of a new trailhead in Desert Hot Springs will be celebrated this coming Friday. From the news release: “The Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy (CVMC), the Friends of the Desert Mountains (FODM) and the Coachella Valley Conservation Commission (CVCC) are thrilled to announce the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the new trailhead at the base of Long Canyon in the City of Desert Hot Springs. The event will take place at 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, at the trailhead, which is located about one mile north of the intersection of Long Canyon Road and Hacienda Avenue. It will be followed by an inaugural hike led by FODM. The new trailhead and approximately 1.5-mile trail connect the Coachella Valley to the approximately 9.1-mile Long Canyon Trail Route within Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP). It provides stunning, picturesque views of the preserved desert. From there, the JTNP trail corridor winds through the natural wash and climbs Long Canyon, ending in Yucca Valley.”

• And finally … in news that is sure to tick off Tucker Carlson, Merriam-Webster has made its choice for 2021’s Word of the Year. Drum roll, please, and here’s the announcement, courtesy of The Associated Press: “With an expanded definition to reflect the times, Merriam-Webster has declared an omnipresent truth as its 2021 word of the year: vaccine. … The selection follows ‘vax’ as word of the year from the folks who publish the Oxford English Dictionary. And it comes after Merriam-Webster chose ‘pandemic’ as tops in lookups last year on its online site.”

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Jimmy Boegle

Jimmy Boegle is the founding editor and publisher of the Coachella Valley Independent. A native of Reno, Nevada, the Dodgers fan went to Stanford University intending to become a sportswriter—but fell...