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Column: Is it time to retire the Tooth Fairy?
Shannon Casas high res
Shannon Casas

It might be time for the tooth fairy to join the Great Resignation.

Some 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s 2.9% of the workforce and a record breaking month. 

Across the country and the world, economists are theorizing about why this is happening. Low pay, bad hours and high stress are certainly factors.

The tooth fairy is paid in teeth. I don’t know what the minimum wage translates to in teeth currency or what the price of a gallon of milk is in tooth fairy land. I can’t imagine a baby tooth goes very far, though. I assume the tooth fairy lives in a cottage or even a castle and has bills to pay. 

The tooth fairy works nights. It’s not a great shift. She might start her evening around 8 or 9 p.m. She’s got to go to the petty cash fund or the bank to find actual U.S. currency. At my house each tooth is worth a $1 bill. At my house she usually leaves a card, too, so that means she’s got to write and decorate that for her young client. That takes time and investment. There are supplies to buy like construction paper, markers and sparkles. Then she’s got to sneak around into a child’s bedroom, which leads me to the next point. 

The tooth fairy has a high stress job. Sneaking around trying not to wake a sleeping child will raise your blood pressure. The tooth fairy sure doesn’t want to get caught. I don’t know who came up with the rules and regulations of this job, but it seems the tooth fairy is required to remove a tooth from underneath the pillow of a sleeping child. I repeat, underneath the child’s pillow. That’s some high stress — trying to wriggle underneath a sleeping child’s head on a pillow to retrieve that tooth and replace it with a dollar.

I’m not sure how many clients she serves in a single night. There’s usually an ideal ratio for that kind of thing. One day care worker per six toddlers or one Division of Family and Children Services worker for 15 cases. Sometimes those ratios are required and sometimes they’re the stuff dreams are made of. I bet the tooth fairy is trying hard to keep up and do the best she can for all her clients. If she’s serving all the children of the world, though, I bet she’s slammed.

Or maybe there are multiple tooth fairies and they serve different regions. I bet the Great Resignation has already increased her workload as some of her friends have already left for cushier jobs.

Now, I’m not saying being the tooth fairy is not a rewarding job, but I’d understand if she wanted some better quality of life.

There are plenty of other jobs out there right now. I’m not sure what the tooth fairy might be most qualified for, but she could surely consider some other options.

Santa’s elves might need some help up at the North Pole. I hear there are some supply chain issues in toy land and a crunch for the most in demand toys this season. I think the elves get paid in cookies, though I don’t know what the conditions might be like in the factory. 

Perhaps the tooth fairy could help out Santa and the reindeer in gift delivery. That’s back to the night shift, though.

The tooth fairy might want to try her hand at teaching. State and local government education is one of the top fields seeing people quit in August, according to the BLS. The tooth fairy already has experience with children and can teach them about how to brush their teeth. She can teach them about cavities and gum health. I’m not sure how she’d fare in teaching kids to read. She can write, but teaching all those strategies to break down words and letter sounds to begin to read is something else entirely. She could probably handle some basic math, though, given she’s got some experience in counting teeth and dollar bills.

In any case, the world’s children are still losing teeth. So the work must still be done. Maybe she’s self-employed and if she stops, there will simply be no more exchange of dollars for teeth. Or maybe her employer will be faced with trying to get the same work done with fewer tooth fairies.

I know the kids in my house aren’t thinking about any of this, but they sure expect that $1 underneath their pillow.


Shannon Casas is editor in chief of The Times and a North Hall resident. 

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