Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008 | 2:05 a.m.
In the recent past, the expected opening of a casino is what drew reporters to long lines of prospective employees. This week it was the expected opening of an In-N-Out Burger.
Las Vegas Sun reporter Timothy Pratt observed Monday the growing amazement of Grace Robinson, manager of the Holiday Inn Express where applications for entry-level jobs at the restaurant were being taken.
She had not prepared for the steady inflow of so many people, most of them desperate. As Pratt reported, she scrambled to find extra rooms and chairs as jobless men and women kept arriving on a cold and rainy morning.
It was estimated that the two-day opportunity to apply for the at-most 50 jobs that pay $10 an hour to start would draw more than 1,000 people.
Privately owned In-N-Out Burger turned 60 years old this year, and it has earned a reputation as a good place to work.
But on Monday and Tuesday the people pouring in may not have known that. They were looking for work wherever they could find it.
The local economy is getting worse, mirroring the national crisis that erupted last year and whose momentum seems unending.
In line Monday was a 42-year-old woman, Freda Beckwith. She has been jobless since Sept. 17, when she was laid off from the Bellagio where she was a cashier. Her dwindling hope rests with her work history that includes nine years as a cook at New York-New York. She carried documents showing she had once been employee of the month and that she had never been late or absent.
Behind on her mortgage, she said she thinks the dozens of jobs she has applied for are going to younger people. “Sometimes I just want to sit down and cry,” she said.
The federal government, whose rescue plans are focused on bailing out big financial institutions, should be more aware that good people who want to work are on the verge of tears.