Among all the uncertainties and unprecedented events that the coronavirus has brought, I thought that going back to work would give me a sense of what normal life would be like again whenever all of this ends. I was wrong.
Although going back to my job as a hostess at Baker’s Crust gave my life more structure and stability, everything still feels extremely far from normal. Not that I was expecting business as usual at the restaurant, because to be quite honest I did not know what to expect at all.
The restaurant is currently operating on a skeleton staff, a reduced menu, and very limited outdoor seating. All of the employees must wear gloves and masks during their whole shift, for obvious reasons, and we are using hundreds of sanitizing wipes a day to clean the ten tables we have available for customers.
On a really good day, we seat about 20 tables total along with a few DoorDash and curbside pick-up orders. While 20 tables may seem like a decent number, we typically had double and even triple that amount before quarantine started.
I am scheduled to work six days of the week, but I never know what to expect each day I go to work. On top of the pandemic, Tropical Storm Arthur also affected business our first week of reopening. With very few customers and pick up orders, our staff found other ways to keep busy. Whenever we go through a slow period, we play cards, board games, do paint pours outside, make TikToks, and annoy our managers. We have definitely grown closer as a staff. If we’re not going through a slow period, then we have a rush hour of complete chaos. It’s stressful and sometimes even scary to deal with more than two groups of people at once when I haven’t had social interaction with anyone except my family since March. Even being around my coworkers is something I’m getting used to again.
Since Virginia is still gradually reopening and easing restrictions as part of Phase One, I’m curious as to how Phase Two will eventually affect the restaurant and other businesses . I was hesitant about coming back to work because of the higher risk of exposure, and even with the curve slowly flattening I’m not sure how businesses are going to change during Phase 2. Although the regulations imposed by businesses have to be enforced at this time, it seems like some customers don’t seem to understand that. I have my fair share of mean customer stories but I wish people could be more understanding and compassionate towards anyone choosing to work in the midst of a pandemic.
I am very grateful for my opportunity to go back to work, and I realize our situation is not even comparable to the jobs of anyone working in the healthcare field. I can’t speak on how other’s experiences have been going back to work and the situation is not ideal for anyone working, but things could definitely be much worse than they already are.