A Close Personal Friend?

By Lyle Hill

Hello, readers. My name is Jonathon Rago and the first thing I want to tell
you is that I am a very close friend of Lyle Hill who writes these more or less
goofy columns every month for this magazine. On occasion, my name has been used in these columns, but I am typically referred to as “Johnny the Mooch Rago”—a very misleading nickname Hill tagged on me many years ago when we were in our 20s. Hill’s writings about me might lead you to believe that I am or have been associated with the underworld, have intimidated and taken advantage of numerous individuals, served time in prison and never made a buck in an honest job. This is not entirely true. As a kid I had a paper route and most people would consider that an honest job.

Now, if you’re wondering what I am doing replacing Hill this month, let me just say that the editor and publisher of this fine magazine both received offers that they found impossible to refuse. So now that you know the deal, I am going to do the writing, in Hill’s style, and I think once you read my stuff, Hill will be toast and you will want me back every month. So here it goes …

Hill answered the phone on its second ring and as usual was happy and excited to hear my kind and pleasant voice.

“Jonathon,” he began, “It’s so wonderful that you reached out to me and especially so during the holiday season. I love hearing from my old close personal friends from the West Side who I love and admire so very much.”

“Think nothing of it Hill,” I replied. “And to explain why I am calling you today, I had a little dinner meeting with Jungle Jim, Stumpy and Meat Hooks a few nights back and it was suggested that I reach out to you for a quick conversation.”

“How lovely, Jonathon. You have such talented and thoughtful friends. Now what can I possibly do to help you and the crew?”

“Okay, Hill, me and the boys have recently come into quite a bit of cash, so after we met, we decided that I should maybe reach out to you for some advice. You know, me and you being such close personal friends and all.”

“What kind of advice, Jonathon?”

“Well, Hill, we know that about this time of year you put out your forecast for the next year, so we thought it might make sense to see what you are thinking about the year ahead.”

“I’m not making any predictions or forecasts this year, Jonathon, because I think the future is incredibly uncertain and I don’t want to give opinions on the year ahead.”

“But Hill, we are such close personal friends, can I just ask you a few questions that me and the boys have come up with?”

“You can, but I am going to tell you right up front that I am no better or worse than anyone else you may want to talk to. But if you want, go ahead and ask.”

“Okay, Hill. First question is, what about the stock market? Should we put our money there?”

“The only thing I think makes some sense here is energy and transportation.
Very uncertain about anything else, but again, please don’t rely on anything I say.”

“What about the labor shortage and supply chain mess, Hill? What’s with that?”

“I think it’s more complicated than we might think. I believe a lot of people learned how to survive on less during the pandemic and this led to a dramatic shift in the labor pool. I also believe a whole lot of baby boomers called it quits and retired. I don’t think we realized how many older people were working part- and full-time jobs after they reached retirement age. I personally know a half dozen people who did not go back to work when the Covid thing cooled down because they did not have to and they liked being done. Some moved to warmer climates and others decided to travel. I additionally believe thousands of kids are being homeschooled for the first time, which means someone’s gotta be home with those kids to do the schooling. I think this contributes to the supply chain issues which are going to be around for a while.”

“And what about the whole Covid thing, Hill. Where is that going or is it gone?”

“It’s not gone and if this new Omicron variant is as transmissible as some are projecting, we might be in for another wave of this thing.”

“What about the construction sector?”

“I think it will be better than I originally thought, but I also believe the second half of next year could see a noticeable decline. But there are so many variables and unknowns out there that you really need to be careful.”

“Hill, you’re not helping me here. I was expecting a lot more from you. Do you see anything good happening next year?”

“I think for a lot of people it’s going to be a long, tough year. As always, there
will be winners but overall I’m concerned and maybe the biggest concern
I have is inflation.”

“Gee, Hill, you’ve kinda been a downer on this. So what are me and the boys supposed to do with all of this money we got?”

“As your close personal friend, Jonathon, can I suggest you consider giving it back?”

Lyle R. Hill is president of Glass.com, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 50 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com.

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