It’s natural to long for the old days way back in February, but we all need to recognize that we’re in a new era.
One of my favorite things about working in hospitality is that every day is different. Sure, you can bet on Saturdays being busier than Tuesdays, and that most reservations will fall between six and eight o’clock at night, but working in a bar or restaurant requires flexibility and a passion for creative problem solving. It’s one of our greatest strengths as an industry.
If you’ve been out to eat in Greater Boston in the last month, you’ve seen that evolution: There are patios where outdoor space did not exist, reconfigured dining rooms, and sanitizer stations suddenly sprouting from walls.
Yet some things haven’t changed at all, and it breaks my heart.
It’s still not okay to take a mental health day; in fact, for many, taking emergency time off is increasingly complicated, because if you call out, you might not be allowed to return. In my experience, most guests have been wonderful, but some people are still arguing about paying for a side of potato chips, and so I will remind them, We were closed for three months, Karen!
Also, a lot of us are still scared.
It’s natural to long for the old days way back in February, but we all need to recognize that we’re in a new era. There’s a lot of pressure for things to go “back to normal,” but they won’t. For those of us who built careers out of interacting with strangers, it’s sad but critical to remember that the thing we love doing the most is exactly what’s killing people.
Haley is an AAN Award-winning columnist for DigBoston and Mel magazine and has contributed to publications including the Boston Globe and helped found Homicide Watch Boston. She has spearheaded and led several Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism investigations including a landmark multipart series about the racialized history of liquor licensing in Massachusetts, and for three years wrote the column Terms of Service about restaurant industry issues from the perspective of workers.