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Millions in US struggle through life with few to trust

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Millions in US struggle through life with few to trust

NEW YORK — Karen Glidden’s loneliness became unbearable during the coronavirus pandemic.

The 72-year-old widow, who suffers from vision loss and diabetes and lives far from any relatives, barely left her house in Champion, Michigan, this past year, for fear of contracting the virus. Finally vaccinated, she was looking forward to venturing out when her beloved service dog died last month.

It doesn’t help that her circle of trusted friends has dwindled to one neighbor she counts on to help her shop, get to the doctor and hang out.

“I feel like I’m in a prison most of the time and once in a while, I get to go out,” said Glidden, whose adult children live in California and Hawaii, where she was born and raised.

She is not alone in her sense of social isolation.

Millions of Americans are struggling through life with few people they can trust for personal and professional help, a disconnect that raises a key barrier to recovery from the social, emotional and economic fallout of the pandemic, according to a new a poll from The Impact Genome Project and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The poll finds 18 percent of US adults, or about 46 million people, say they have just one person or nobody they can trust for help in their personal lives, such as emergency child care needs, a ride to the airport or support when they fall sick. And 28 percent say they have just one person or nobody they can trust to help draft a resume, connect to an employer or navigate workplace challenges.

The isolation is more acute among Black and Hispanic Americans. Thirty-eight percent of Black adults and 35 percent of Hispanic adults said they had only one or no trusted person to help navigate their work lives, compared with 26 percent of white adults. In their personal lives, 30 percent of Hispanic adults and 25 percent of Black adults said they have one or no trusted people, while 14 percent of white adults said the same.

Researchers have long debated the idea that the US has suffered from a decline in social capital, or the value derived from personal relationships and civic engagement.

The General Social Survey, a national representative survey conducted by NORC since 1972, suggests that the number of people Americans feel they can trust had declined by the early 2000s, compared with two decades earlier, although there is little consensus about the extent of this isolation or its causes. The rise of social media has added another layer of debate, as experts explore whether it broadens networks or lures people in isolating echo chambers.

The Impact Genome/AP-NORC poll sought to measure how much social capital Americans can count as they try to pick up the pieces of lives fractured by the pandemic. The findings suggest that for many Americans, the pandemic has chipped away at whatever social capital they had going into it.

Americans were more likely to report a decline than an increase in the number of people they could trust over the past year. Just 6 percent of Americans said their network of trusted people grew, compared with 16 percent who reported that it shrank. While the majority of Americans said the number of people they could trust stayed the same, nearly 3 in 10 said they asked for less support from family and friends because of COVID-19.

Community bonds have proved to be critical to recovery from calamities such as Superstorm Sandy in 2012, said Jennifer Benz, deputy director of The AP-NORC Center.

But the nature of the pandemic made those bonds difficult or even impossible to maintain. Schools, community centers, churches, synagogues and mosques closed. People couldn’t ask neighbors or grandparents for help with child care or other needs for fear of spreading the virus.

About half of Americans are engaged in civic groups such as religious institutions, schools or community service groups, according to the new poll. And 42 percent of all adults said they have become less involved with civic groups during the pandemic, compared with just 21 percent who said they became more engaged.

“Compared to the way social capital can be leveraged in other disasters, the key difference has been that this is a disaster where your civic duty was to be on your own,” Benz said.

Surveys from the Pew Research Center suggested that relocation increased during the pandemic. While some people moved to be closer to family, more relocated because of job loss or other financial stresses.

Warlin Rosso, 29, has moved often in pursuit of financial stability, often at the cost of his social ties.

He left behind his entire family, including 14 siblings, when he immigrated to the US five years ago from the Dominican Republic. He worked at a warehouse in Chicago for three years, sharing an apartment with a girlfriend. But when that relationship fell apart, he couldn’t afford to move out on his own. In December 2019, he relocated to Jackson, Mississippi, where a childhood friend let him move in.

That friend, Rosso said, remains the only person in Jackson he can trust for help. As the pandemic closed in, Rosso struggled in a city where the Hispanic community is tiny.

Through social media, he found work with a Nicaraguan man who owned a construction business. Later, he found a training program that landed him a job as hospital aide.

His co-workers are friendly, but he feels isolated. Sometimes, he said, patients bluntly ask to be helped by a non-Latino worker. He hopes eventually to get a similar job back in Chicago, where he has friends.

“It’s not always welcoming for Hispanics here,” Rosso said. “Here, I’m alone.”

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Can someone have a word with my co-worker about her plunging necklines?

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Can someone have a word with my co-worker about her plunging necklines?

My co-worker has a Jayne Mansfield figure and continually wears plunging necklines, resulting in stares from staff. Can human resources legally advise her to dress more appropriately?

The answer is generally yes. HR can legally have a conversation with an employee about their manner of dress, provided someone isn’t being singled out because of gender, race or religious observance. However, one needs to tread very carefully because unless there is a specific dress code, this conversation is fraught with negative outcomes. Since this is an observation of a coworker and you aren’t this person’s boss, do you really want to engage in this matter or refer it to HR? Do you have the kind of relationship where you can speak to them privately about how their manner of dress is impacting other colleagues? You’d better be damn close colleagues in order to have that conversation, though, otherwise, this is best left to the boss and HR.

I work on a contract basis and there are times when I’m working overtime, but the company will not approve my time sheet past 40 hours. My agency said I should put in for the OT, but I don’t want to rock the boat. Is this legal? Full disclosure: The department I work in is HR so it would be ironic if they are bending the rules.

Well, the fact that you work in the HR department gives me some confidence that they are following the rules, although it’s not like HR hasn’t failed to protect employee rights now and then. A person’s eligibility for OT depends on the work they are doing, whether they are paid a flat fee, or if they are OT eligible, meaning the company approves the extra hours before they are worked. If you are eligible then by law they have to pay you for those hours. You can and should ask for clarification of your situation. If you are eligible and they won’t authorize the extra pay then you shouldn’t work the extra hours. Keep a detailed log of your hours and who was aware that you worked them. If this is a temporary job, you can also consider raising the issue at the end of the assignment. If they don’t comply with back pay, you will have the facts and law on your side.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive and is dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work. E-mail your questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at GoToGreg.com

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Woolly mammoth tusk found during roadwork in Oregon

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Woolly mammoth tusk found during roadwork in Oregon

It was a mammoth discovery!

Crews rerouting a gas line in the city of Corvallis, Ore., uncovered the 12,000-year-old tusk of a woolly mammoth beneath the roadway.

“Whenever doing this type of work, our crews are very careful to keep any eye out for any type of materials they may find while working that could be fragile or historic,” a spokeswoman for NW Natural, the gas company doing the work, told the Corvallis Gazette-Times. “As is our protocol, we stopped work immediately.”

The excavation work was being done for the city government, part of a project on water lines and storm drains in the area. The company contacted Corvallis officials, who brought in Oregon State University’s Loren Davis, an anthropology professor who researches archaeological sites from western North America that date from the Pleistocene era, more than 12,000 years ago.

Davis said that the mammoth, which co-existed with early humans, probably was buried in the great Missoula floods of the Pleistocene era. The tusk is about 6 feet below ground level, and extends into the construction trench wall, meaning more of the animal’s body might be hidden underground.

The exact reason it ended up there is “a bit of a mystery,” Davis said. “The world was changing structure to a post-glacial one. People also were present. There might have been environmental factors as well as hunting pressure. It could be lots of things.”

Early humans not only hunted mammoths for food, but used their bones and tusks to make tools, dwellings and art.

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McDonald’s worker rage-quits with sign at drive-thru

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McDonald's worker rage-quits with sign at drive-thru

McDonald’s may want to reconsider its “I’m lovin’ it” slogan.

A Louisville, Kentucky, employee apparently despised working at the fast-food chain so much that they hung up a sign on the drive-thru speaker that read: “We are closed because I am quitting and I hate this job.”

After Twitter user Great Ape Dad snapped and posted a picture of the straight-to-the-point sign on Monday morning, it quickly went viral. He later elaborated that the sign supposedly was put up by a night shift manager who had “suddenly quit” the previous night.

Great Ape Dad told Today that he was on his way to pick up the new BTS meal for his wife when he saw the note. “I took a picture, uploaded it to Twitter, not thinking much of anything about it,” he said. “And much to my surprise, it’s had quite a success.” Apparently, none of the employees had seen the sign until he pointed it out.

“I used to work in the service industry myself,” he said. “I think that people are just frustrated, especially the working-class people who are there in the front line … things that are in a boiling point where I can definitely see where someone on a Saturday night that doesn’t want to be working the drive-thru — wants to just call it quits.”

This isn’t an isolated incident. Minimum wage workers have been rage-quitting their low-level jobs in mass quantities as businesses begin to open up again in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Combined with a need for new hires and a push for working wages, companies have begun to take action. 

McDonald’s reported in May that it plans to raise employee wages by 10% in the next few months. Based on location, all entry-level employees can look forward to making anywhere $11 to $17 per hour, and all shift managers will make $15 to $20 an hour.
According to a National Federation of Independent Business survey, 40% of small businesses have job openings that have yet to be filled, while a poll found that 39% of workers would consider quitting if they weren’t offered more flexibility about continuing to work remotely.

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