Set the scene: imagine working as a server in a restaurant that has reopened their dining room with limited tables, an increased cleaning protocol, fewer employees, and the same influx of guests all to appease the state orders for safe dining during COVID-19. This is the scene for millions across America who were forced back into work due to financial reasons and or for fear that they would lose their jobs. And it’s a heartbreaking sight. But, unfortunately this is the world that COVID-19 has brought service workers into.
As the mostly underpaid workers clock in each and every day, they’re faced with constant safety issues and increased aggravation from customers who can’t seem to grasp the new COVID-19 dining stipulations. Not to mention, the stress of ensuring that they have a paycheck each week in a country that currently isn’t offering additional financial assistance to those most affected by the pandemic. So, as an ode to service workers everywhere–and from one former server to another– this piece is for you.
Just a few helpful hints (straight from a service worker) to remember:
-Don’t forget about your servers, cashiers, bartenders and anyone that makes their living from tips. Make sure to always leave a tip, and be generous.
– Be understanding of the newly adjusted safety protocols. Don’t touch too many surfaces– more than likely a worker is instructed to clean that surface as soon as you walk out of the building. Be considerate to your server when you realize items like salt and pepper aren’t readily available at your table.
-6 FEET!! Keep your distance from other customers and servers. They don’t want to risk coming in close contact to remain healthy and able to earn a paycheck.
-Avoid touch points and wash hands frequently.
-Don’t complain about things that are out of their control. Most rules are put in place by the state and the restaurant or bar simply is complying. Also, the server must comply with managers regulations as well.
-Wear a mask. Not only is it required, but it keeps everyone safe. And please don’t joke about how you cannot eat with one, or cannot breathe. It’s likely that your server, or cashier has worn in for many hours and many days at a time, it’s a pain but you get used to it.
-Lastly, if you do anything avoid making jokes about COVID-19. It just makes an uncomfortable exchange because the worker is there because you are seeking a service, so to openly laugh at their current struggle in a pandemic isn’t nice. And trust me, they’ve heard them all.
The above tips for handling a service situation is just a small compilation of what servers are asking for during the pandemic. It’s not limited to that list either. With every industry comes different struggles as well as each state varies due to certain opening procedures. And if you aren’t sure, then do your part and research procedures or first hand accounts.
Like a recent article from Teen Vogue, which outlines what it’s like for five service workers during the pandemic. As well as this article from The Conversation, describing the emotional toll that COVID-19 has taken on workers.
But, one request that holds true for all service workers is that you be kind. It’s a tough time for everyone in the world, but service workers are the backbone of our economy and they deserve to be treated with respect. So, if you’re looking to head out for a night to a bar or restaurant or whether you’re stopping by a gas station, just remember to be safe, smart and courteous of the workers. And of course, wear a mask!