October 25, 2021
As a customer service worker who also enjoys eating and sightseeing, I’ve been exposed to both sides of our nationwide staff shortage. I can report that the situation is uncomfortable for all involved. It’s hard for me not to feel guilty for wanting service, just as it can be frustrating when the lines grow at work.
One of the most common customer interactions at my job surrounds the lack of cell reception. For better or worse, we who inhabit the Driftless are used to this kind of thing. Dead zones and spotty wi-fi are threads in the tapestry of our lives. I’m not saying this is how it should be (and we’re not off the grid by any means: the recent outage of a certain social media site was felt as deeply here as elsewhere). But it’s clear that for some of our city-dwelling visitors, this is a new experience.
In some cases, a lack of technology can make traveling more enjoyable. Mostly, though, our guests are disappointed that we can’t provide the services they need. Their exasperation often ends up directed at me. I consider myself an ambassador of this area both in title and in bent, so it’s not exactly fun to tell folks there’s nothing I can do.
Nothing lasting, anyway. What I can do is offer to look up directions to their hotel, or the hours of a local restaurant — the right information at the time it’s needed. It could be a while before the Driftless gets world-class infrastructure and migrates to “the cloud.” In the meantime, I’ll keep forging connections with my fellow human beings here on the ground.