DENVER (CBS4) – Restaurants and hotels continue to look for workers as the COVID-19 pandemic wears off. Many have vacant jobs and restaurants have fewer working hours due to a lack of help.

Requested advertisements remain unanswered.

“I love to cook, I love to feed people,” said Michelle, who agreed to speak to us if we didn’t use her last name and tried to protect her identity. Michelle is unemployed and is no longer returning as a line cook. “I was up at 5:30 in the morning. I was in the kitchen ready to feed everyone. I would go to my second job. “

(Credit: CBS)

Then she took a third.

“All three places where I worked at the time were closed. March 17th, 2020. Boom. In 10 minutes, I went from 75, 80 hours a week to nothing. “

She had medical issues and was reluctant to apply to a frontline grocery store. She had a heart attack earlier this year. Now vaccinated, she is fine.

Some hiring managers told CBS4 that they believe unemployment benefits, especially the extra $ 300 a week unemployed get through September, is a major disadvantage.

“I’m not at home because I don’t want to work. I am not home because I am lazy. I’m home because I don’t want to go back to 75 hours a week to keep this up. “She pointed to the little house she rents with her two working grown sons.

As a line cook, she’d hit $ 15 to $ 16 an hour 10 years after attending cookery school in her forties.

“And it was the best part of my day being able to go to work and feed people and see how they enjoy my food,” recalls Michelle. “Who I was 18 months ago was go, go, go, go, go. Come home and sleep four hours and get up and do it all over again. And I was proud of that. “Hey, I have three jobs, I work hard.”

The long hours and low wages meant living in a motel with her sons for a while because she couldn’t make the money to get into an apartment. They also lived on a campsite.

Now they have a home with unemployment benefits and their sons’ income. There is frequent violence just a few blocks away and it would “not walk around at night” but it is not too worried.

What she has found since becoming unemployed is the time she has lost in her long hours. Her mother died during the pandemic last year (not due to COVID-19) and she was able to spend time with her mother.

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“My youngest son, when he was 10, got up in the morning and drove three RTD buses to get to school because mom was already at work.”

She spent time getting to know her sons better.

“We had more time in the last year of his life than in the first 20 years of his life.”

(Credit: CBS)

She says she looks for work “every day” but wants to work from home, as so many others did during the pandemic. “I would love to find a full-time job from home and then find a part-time job in the kitchen.”

She admits that things are not urgent. “I think I’m more specific.”

She has heard criticism from those who have not yet returned to work, but believes the payments are not the reason.

“You don’t pay us to have a great life. They pay us to keep up what we busted our asses for before COVID … This is Denver. What will bring you $ 1,200 in Denver? A one bedroom apartment in the hood? “

She says she would still be home without the extra payments.

“I am fortunate to have children who would work and help me take care of myself. Just like I have looked after them for the past 25, 30 years. “

The pandemic that changed their views on what is important in life and long hours of work may have faded into the background.

She notes that she has paid taxes her entire working life and says she will be back to work before September.

“I don’t expect the government to keep paying me. But neither do I think I should feel guilty after having worked 45 years of my life and am able to enjoy one. Does that make me a bad person? “