Dear drinkers: don’t forget about us.
An open letter to those who have a favorite barstool and want to see it still there after the virus is done f*cking with us.
Your socially distant bartender
Someone once told me that you’ll always have job security if you either learn how to fix cars or fix people. Well I’m no mechanic, and I sure as hell am not a doctor, but as a service industry worker our job is just as much about people as it is about making and serving cocktails. Anyone can make a rum and coke or pour a beer but not everyone can make it as a good bartender because our job is more than just making drinks, it’s about people. In the wake of national disasters, the kind that often crush the economy like 9/11 and the housing crisis of 08’, you could still count on your local bar to be there for you to provide drink, company, and most of all distraction from the shit that awaits on the other side of those doors. I don’t think any of us could have expected a health emergency that would in fact cripple our industry and livelihoods as we know it, after all we’re used to being the last line of relief for those escaping the realities of tragedy—thus job security.
We find ourselves in a precarious situation where the world as we know it is no longer (albeit if only temporary) and as trends across the country continue–restaurants and bars will close for all in-service dining and drinking for an unforeseeable amount of time. So, where does that leave the bartenders and the servers, the tipped employees who live on those extra percentages people leave in the little line under their bill totals? What happens to the ones who listen to their patron’s problems day after day, getting compensated only through what the customer deems your worth? Most of us in the food service industry get little to no paycheck at all as it is, so a complete shutdown of bar/restaurant services will be devastating.
And at the risk of sounding like I’m panicking, I’m (low-key) highly concerned for our financial futures!
As an industry that already has a lot of financial uncertainty, a complete halt to our shifts can mean catastrophe. I have a lot of concerns and unanswered questions like how will I pay my credit cards? How long will this go on? Will our jobs/our bars still be here when the dust settles? Yesterday, the Whitehouse expressed that they plan on enacting a stimulus that would ensure the working class of America some money as relief during this time of unforeseen unemployment, because as said it is to no-fault of our own that this is happening and is something we could not properly prepare for. How they plan on disbursing the funds is unknown as of yet, and how they determine who gets it is also unknown…so for now I’m still panicking quietly, in my house, socially distant from everyone except my husband and my pups.
As a community I believe that practicing social distancing at this time is paramount to ensuring that the spread of the Covid-19 virus is reduced, as a bartender I’m scared for my bank account, and as an industry supporter I’m hopeful that our favorite food stops and bars will prevail this shit storm. I recognize that it could mean my job, and my immediate financial security for people to heed the warnings of the CDC and our government officials when they tell us to limit our interactions outside the home and not congregate in groups of 10 or more people—but if everyone put their own needs and wants aside to Netflix and chill at home with a bottle of wine for 2 weeks, then that could make the difference of these shut downs being a few weeks to being months! A restaurant shut down of weeks really beats months and at this point that’s all we can hope for.
It’s hard to be on board with these strict regulations on our industry but we can’t ignore the potential seriousness of spreading this coronavirus and should acknowledge the fact that business as usual in a restaurant could put other people in danger. It’s not lost on me that a lot of us in this industry will suffer greatly and if I weren’t in a position where my husband gets a paycheck no matter what, I would probably be calling my mom right about now. A lot are in tears, are single parents, need daycare, have mouths to feed or just can’t find toilet paper . This hit will still hurt us and will take time to recover.
Looking ahead, how can we make sure that the industry isn’t completely decimated in the near future? How do you support your local restaurants? Take-out seems to be a popular solution to the dine-in restrictions, also a lot of breweries and craft beer spots are offering to-go beers in the form of growlers and crowlers complete with drive up, contact reduced service! The alcohol industry will refuse to suffer, so let’s make sure our favorite alcohol providers don’t either. Purchasing gift cards is another way to make sure your favorite spots don’t disappear with this virus. Keep in mind today is #takeoutwednesday so if you’re in the position to, order from your favorite restaurants and dine at home today.
I don’t know what this will mean for us workers, the ones with no paychecks, the ones who keep the lights on regularly, the ones that get to know their regulars and lend an ear to anyone who finds solace in a barstool. What do we do next, how will we survive this cash hiatus? It’s no-doubt a scary time but I’m hopeful that if our communities come together by not getting together, we will get back on our feet.
So, for now, please wash your hands and remember it’s not drinking alone if the dog is home.