I don’t remember if I wrote about it, but last year I had a fun conversation with some guests at the bar. They were in town for a few weeks and became regulars on the nights that I was bartending. This was right before I was set to go on my cruise and we, naturally, spent a great deal of time chatting about that.
At one point, one of them asked what kind of vacation benefits we get and I just laughed. Truth of the matter is, when it comes to working the food service industry, there’s no vacation time. When we take days off, there is no compensation for it, we just don’t make money. So when we take a vacation it actually costs us more than you think.
Now, go ahead and ask me about my sick time.
That’s right. We don’t get any.
Right now, the hot topic for everyone is the coronavirus. No one can so much as cough or sneeze without anyone around them freaking the hell out. The news is doing a fantastic job and whipping everyone into a panic but not properly reporting or sharing information. Businesses are starting to take measures to protect their employees and guests. For example, I saw a sign at a Starbucks saying that for the time being, they would not be using guests’ reusable cups from home.
I didn’t think much of it but last week they had us all sign new food safety forms and yesterday, a fun little sheet showed up that we all had to mark down that we were washing our hands at least once and hour and immediately after going to the bathroom or touching anything that could be considered contaminated (money, dirty dishes, etc). Therefore, we are supposed to be washing our hands constantly.
Moreso, as a rule, if we are sick, we are supposed to stay home. This is where things get annoying. Because I’ll be completely honest, I’ve worked sick. Just about every server ever has. I’ve had times where I’ve told managers that I’m sick and they’ve made me continue to work.
I’m lucky enough to work somewhere where they do offer health insurance. It isn’t great but they offer it. I have it, it still costs an arm and a leg to go to the doctor and I can’t even imagine how much an emergency room visit would run me. I’m currently indebted to Quest Diagnostics for about $1500 for standard tests that I had done ages ago.
Back to my point along with the coronavirus. I work two jobs that I really enjoy yet neither of them offer sick pay. Getting sick is expensive and add in no income what do you get? Me dragging my sick ass into work.
I’m not writing this to scare anyone, I’m sure someone will take it that way and freak out that servers are going to be spreading the plague to everyone. If you get that out of this then it’s probably for the best that you don’t dine out anyway- you seem like the type that doesn’t tip properly.
I honestly am not even 100% sure why I’m writing this. I just couldn’t help but think of all of this while working the other night. So many people don’t understand how hard it is for some many out there when it comes to money and healthcare and overall health in general.
While I personally think there’s a whole lot of disinformation and unnecessary panic in the world, I think that we are seeing the spread of a virus around the world. There’s a very good chance that we’re going to see it continue to spread because people can’t afford to take time off from work to be sick. I know I don’t. I’m going to keep taking care of myself as best I can but who the hell knows what’s going to happen.
It’s scary to work in the food industry and be sick. Like I said, I’ve been made to work when sick. I’ve been guilted into coming in not feeling well because of staffing issues. I’ve had fellow servers and bartenders come in half-dead because they couldn’t afford to take the night off. That’s why so often in many jobs once one of us is sick- we all end up sick. But management will guilt you into coming in, will threaten your job if you call out.
So if I want to pay my bills and my rent, I HAVE to go to work. So that’s where I’ll be rain or shine as it were.
I guess my point is.
Can everyone just not be a dick and wash their freaking hands.
And calm the hell down.
And tip your servers.