If there’s anything the year 2020 taught those of us in the restaurant industry, it’s that most people think we’re unimportant. Well, 2020 didn’t necessarily teach us that because we’ve known it all along. It’s been a difficult year to be a server. (Hell, it’s been a difficult year to be a human being.) Most of us have had to endure restaurant closures or working fewer shifts in less than ideal circumstance. And then there are some of us who continuously wore the apron throughout the pandemic dealing with whatever consequences came with it, be it fewer customers, getting sick or at the very least being worried about getting sick. My guess is that some of you never heard a thank you from either your bosses or your customers, so please allow me.
Thank you for your willingness to do whatever was asked of you this year to keep your restaurant running. Wear a mask for hours on end while at work? Done. Wash your hands so many times they feel as dry as a well done burger? Done. Deal with outdoor dining during rain, heatwaves and blizzards? Done. You did that because your bosses asked you to. So, thank you.
Thank you for your resiliency. Some of you were laid off from your job and then asked to come back only to be laid off again. But you did it. You bounced back because you knew you had to in order to make some money to pay for frivolous things like rent and car payments. You persevered even though you didn’t know if it was the right decision or not. So, thank you.
Thank you for doing your best to make your customers feel welcome at your restaurants. As they sat in your section laughing, talking, and eating, you diligently wore your mask and served them so they could have just a brief respite back to something normal while your life was anything but that. I bet a lot of you were smiling underneath your mask even though no one could see it. Your customers might not have said thank you enough, so I will: thank you.
Thank you for all the hours you spent on the unemployment website or on the phone with someone trying to understand what benefits you were eligible for. It’s navigational nightmare trying to decipher what you have to do to receive some financial help while our livelihood is dying, but you did it. You spent hours figuring it out because no one else was going to help you understand it and you needed that money. Your family needed it for groceries. And after you fell into that black hole of an unemployment website and wasted so much time, you immediately had to do something else like cook dinner for your kids. Thank you.
Thank you for being a good parent and learning what remote learning is making sure your kids are okay. They’re struggling just like we are and you were there for them every step of the way. You swallowed your stress so they’d have less of it. Thank you.
2020 has taken a lot out of us, but it didn’t take away our hope. Every year, we step into January 1st full of hope for a better year to come. This year is no different. Servers are innately optimistic, because every time we approach a new customer we don’t know what to expect, but we always hope for the best- a big tip, a kind customer, or an experience that will remind us that waiting tables can sometime be very fulfilling. That’s the last thing I want to thank you all for: your hopefulness. Don’t let it go. You hold onto that hope tighter than you hold onto a credit card receipt on a windy patio. Your hope is what’s going to get us through 2021.