Watching the posts from my friends in the service industry, I find myself torn between wishing I could help and cold facts of pragmatism.
All my friends in the service industry live on the razors edge of paying all their bills. One slow night, a cheapskates walking on tabs or not tipping, shift changes putting them on non-busy times, all hits to prospectives of a roof over their head, gas in their tank, money for school, or food for their families. A world usually without insurance, sick days, breaks or vacations. A world of eight to twelve hour shifts. A world I grew up in with my Mom waiting tables, often at two different restaurants.
We didn’t have to deal with this though. Beholden to the masses practicing safe habits, more often not. Having to shut down a restaurant due to an employee testing positive. Shutting down for weeks and months at a time due to Health Departments trying to contain outbreaks by folk who don’t give a shit ’bout anything but themselves. Their freedoms. Their rights. Everyone else can fuck off.
The service industry, much like the medical workers, are just background noise to the majority of Americans who don’t notice them, but expect them to be there when needed. No respect for the work, and now a lot are largely forgotten, left to toil unseen. If they’re lucky, they can toil.
Restaurants currently can provide takeout, as if that will pay the bills. Kitchen staff are the most expensive staff to keep on as they don’t balance their wages with tips. And to do takeout, you need a cook there, even if it’s only one order on an eight hour shift. If you need multiple cooks as you ARE doing good business, you have to worry that one cook on a shift tests positive, taking any staff working with them out for two weeks.
While they’re doign takeout, stocking becomes more of an issue. Prices are going up, partly because of transport issues, partly because of warehouse staff shortages and meat packing plant outbreaks, partly because of failure to project needs. No one’s able to predict what’ll sell ,what won’t, so it’s hard to stock. Even if you get that down, what do you do with perishables for a two week (or longer) shutdown?
Most importantly, what do you do as an employee if you test positive? I’ve been lucky to have worked for folk that would help out, but if you end up in the hospital? For a week? For two? For six?
If you run the restaurant, what do you do? A positive employee test is a two week shutdown, minimum. Are your staff insured? Do you help with bills? How far with no revenue coming in? What if there’s more than one employee?
The whole situation is unfair, both for employers, employees and owners. Six of one, half dozen of the other, which six weigh more? Work to make the bills, take the chance on the Covid roulette, or what? There are no good options at this point, and no leadership who care.