Back in March, in the window of two weeks, my husband lost his job, and my web design business closed. So now, here I am, waiting tables during what is probably the absolute worst time to be a waitress. Especially a waitress in a left-wing college town in New-fucking-York.
My exposure to sane people is so limited that I asked SP (also known as Mom) if I could come on here and write this post because, frankly, I need to vent to people who won’t look at me as if I’m out of my mind.
As of this writing, there have been fewer than 100 cases in the entire county since this whole fucking shit show started, yet the rules that we have to abide by were put in place by people who seem to have forgotten that New York City is not the only part of this state.
And because this town is a liberal haven, everybody here (apart from a few notable exceptions) believes:
- Governor Cuomo has our best interests at heart, and has no ulterior motive.
- The reason we haven’t been hit hard by this horribly scary virus is because of the rules the Governor put in place.
The rules vary from county to county, but so far as I can tell the variations have nothing to do with facts.
We currently have to:
Require customers to wear masks at all times unless the customer is eating or drinking.
If a customer won’t comply, we’re supposed to throw them out. The health department is sending spies in to make sure we actually do this.
The business was fined $500 for an elderly woman who went to the restroom and didn’t wear a mask while she was walking from her table to the restroom. There were no tables or customers between her table and the restroom. Furthermore, it was a slow period, and the single waitress who was working that shift was in the kitchen and doing dishes, so she didn’t witness this.
The health department spy witnessed the only other person in the dining room walk 20 feet to the restroom without a mask on, and also witnessed the waitress wasn’t in the dining room, and yet they still fined us $500 for not enforcing the mask rule.
I am sure you can imagine how furious I was when I learned this happened.
Customers are fucking furious about the mask rules, and I don’t blame them. The next county over, which has had 3x as many cases, does not require customers to wear masks at all times. I spend an inordinate amount of time telling customers they have to put their mask on when I’m at the table.
My spiel now goes something like this, “Look, I know this is stupid, and if it were up to me, we wouldn’t wear talismasks at all, but the health department insists, and we can get in seriously big trouble if we don’t enforce it.”
A few customers have been good natured about it, but most of them take it out on me and punish me for enforcing the policy that I will get fired for not enforcing. I am now lucky if I make more than 10% per night in tips. Combined with my hourly wage of $7.85, it’s not nearly enough.
Wear masks at all times while on shift, including in the kitchen with the industrial hood.
This is the one that pisses me off more than anything else. I have asthma. I am exempt from the mask policy everywhere else, but I have to wear the fucking thing at work because it’s a restaurant, and I work with customers. The health department requires it, and will punish my employers if I don’t wear the mask.
As a result, I try to go outside when I can and breathe some fresh air, but the restaurant has become such an unhealthy and toxic place to work (partly because of this bullshit; partly because of the owner’s reaction to this bullshit) that we are short-staffed. At least a couple days a week I am stuck there with just one cook, and I have to run the entire dining room and patio, takeout, cash register, phone, and dishes. I don’t have time to take a sip of water let alone go outside and breathe fresh air.
Block off every other table to ensure 6′ of social distancing is met.
This is supposed to be a state-wide regulation, but it’s mysteriously enforced in this county but not the next one over. This applies to the outside seating, as well, so we removed 50% of our outdoor tables, roped off every other table in the dining room.
Now the town itself is trying to enforce a 12′ radius around each table, and if that happens, the owner said he’ll just have to close permanently.
And on the topic of social distancing, we’re supposed to make sure every single customer standing in line to pay is at least 6′ apart unless they’re from the same household.
Well, it’s a college town. College kids come in with their friends. How the hell are we supposed to know if they are housemates? Furthermore, why is it OK for them to eat together, but they can’t stand next to each other in line?
Sanitize each menu every single time it is touched.
Like a lot of diners, we have paper menus shoved inside plastic menu covers. Every. Single. Time. a menu is touched we are supposed to sanitize it. But the plastic covers aren’t waterproof, so the paper menus get soggy, and then guess what? They get moldy. You would not believe how moldy and nasty our menus get, and yet the health department says that’s OK because we’re killing the virus. What???
How the fuck is it acceptable to hand a MOLDY menu to a customer??
I throw away and replace probably 30-50 menus per week, which is an expense that we can’t really afford. Pre-pandemic we would replace the menus 3x per year.
Throw out anything disposable that goes to a customer table even if the customer doesn’t touch it.
This is equally obnoxious. We are allowed to use ketchup and mustard bottles so long as we sanitize them after each use, but we aren’t allowed to use syrup bottles even if we do sanitize them. We’re not allowed to use salt and pepper shakers or sugar shakers. We’re not allowed to use creamer pitchers. But we can use ketchup and mustard bottles?
So we have these stupid packets that we have to give out when someone wants syrup, salt and pepper, sugar, or creamer. We’ll put a few creamer packets on the table when we serve coffee. If the customer uses one of the three, we have to throw away the other two — even if the customer didn’t touch them! — because they were at a customer’s table, and the customer might have COVID.
Last week I told the owner that I was really upset that customers are abusing us and not tipping.
Apparently a) it’s in my head and I’m over-reacting, and b) I’m not making money because I only want to work five days a week and not seven.
Unfortunately, this appears to be normal in this region.
All the servers around here know each other. They all are saying the same thing.
Retaurants are short staffed. Each server is trying to cover multiple stations per shift. Owners are acting like tyrants because they’re so afraid of the health department and Cuomo’s task force. Waste for non-perishable goods is through the roof, and customers who are pissed about the rules punish the servers by withholding tips.
And yet — and this is what I am especially angry about — this is all for “the public good.”
When I express my outrage, I am treated as if I am the problem. I am so fucking tired of being told that I don’t care about people. I do care — more than I want to.
That’s really the reason why I get so upset. People are not only blind to the manipulation that’s happening on a grand scale, they are willing participants.
Someone said to me the other day, “If the virus wasn’t so deadly, why would they require masks? Why would they possibly want to scare us?”
Because a fearful populous is easier to manipulate, that’s why. Wake the fuck up.
If I weren’t already a libertarian, I surely would’ve become one this year.
I’m unfortunately here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress!