Restaurant Workers Are Sharing Why They're Done With The Service Industry, And To Say I'm Fuming With Anger Is An Understatement
Note: This post contains mentions of harassment, abuse, and thoughts of suicide.
It is impossible not to feel the lasting effects of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry.
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In 2020, the restaurant industry ended the year with sales of $ 240 billion below forecasts, and it is now estimated that nearly 8 million employees have either been laid off or on leave due to the pandemic. As restaurants slowly approach their pre-pandemic numbers, one puzzling question remains: Why aren't restaurant workers returning to the industry?
(Fact: In September, the percentage of vacancies in the hospitality industry is still higher than in any other.)
To dig a little further, we asked the BuzzFeed community restaurant staff to tell us why they won't be returning - whether their reasons were wholly motivated by the pandemic or just a long time coming. Here are their stories.
By the way, if you have a story to share with us, let us know in the comments below. ?
1. “One of our managers died in a car accident on New Year's Day. I was her bartender last night - New Years Eve - so we made a champagne toast together at midnight. We were a close-knit staff, with most of us having been there for over 5 years. Management told us all that she died when we got to work that night and then forced us to work through the shift when we only had a handful of reservations on the books. "
“Half of the staff had to go into the kitchen crying again and again. That's when I realized that neither of us meant shit to management. "
2. "My supervisor literally yelled in my face after I ate a bite that I took with my prescription pill into the dining room.) I got over the verbal abuse not only from the general public but also from my employers . "
3. "I worked as a manager in the fast food business for 23 years, but after having two miscarriages from stress, verbal and emotional abuse in 2021, I quit in September. The pandemic showed the absolute worst in people. In early March." In 2020 a customer coughed and spat on me deliberately. When I told a manager that I was feeling uncomfortable and worried, I was laughed at. "
“Every shift from April 2020 onwards has been incredibly busy and understaffed, with customers yelling and yelling about precautions, protocols and cleanliness and not following the protocols. Twenty-three years and said goodbye when I left. "
4. "Seventeen years in the industry and I've never seen it bad. No help, low wages, longer hours, no benefits and worst of all ... the PUBLIC. People are more impatient and less grateful for any kind of service I'm giving up. I'm going back to school to finish my BA because my passion for culinary art was ripped from my soul. "
5. "I left when my job caused tendinitis so severe that I was put in a plaster cast."
6. “When COVID-19 broke out, I was a chef in Houston, Texas. It took less than a week for the restaurant to close and I didn't find out until I called the restaurant to let them know I was due to a road closure. You didn't even bother calling me. After that, we were sent into unemployment with no return date. I moved back in with my mother because I couldn't pay my rent. Unemployment benefits paid me less than half of what I previously earned. So I did what everyone else would. I moved on. After an extensive job search, I got a job in car sales and put my heart and soul into the industry, just like I did when I came into the kitchen. "
"What if COVID rises again and they close restaurants? Or if another economic crisis hits and people stop eating out? What if we go through this again? My reason for not going back wasn't to sit at home collecting an unemployment check; I didn't go back because industry and government treated me and my hospitality colleagues. They treated us like pawns on a chess board. They left us - we didn't leave them. "
7. “I left when I realized I had a drinking problem. People who work in restaurants are such train wrecks - but they're also some of the best, funniest people I've ever met. There were bar regulars drinking their faces every day, staff showing up drunk from the night before or their morning treatment, and heavy drinking normalized. I wasn't the only one I knew needed help. I had a lot of good friends who needed help. I let a colleague die when she vomited in her sleep. "
“The kind of work environment that tells you it's normal to start the day with a coffee and two glasses of vodka is just not the kind of environment I can survive in. I am not alone either. Still ... the best job I've met interesting, creative, wonderful people. We were all plagued by problems that got out of hand. "
8. "A mass exodus has been smoldering for years. The public regularly berates employees for discounts and freebies. No other job is so stressful, humiliating and humiliating for so little money. You can't assert yourself because" the customer "always has it Law.' No they aren't. You're the punching bag for anyone who's had a bad day. I left after 17 years and it was the best decision of my life. To all 'Nobody wants to work' crowd: Go fill out an application at your place local restaurant. "
9. “I was in the restaurant business for 25 years. I loved it - it was all I knew. I worked through the entire pandemic as the bakery I ran stayed open. I was exhausted. Long story short, we were never compensated I worked through the pandemic at high risk so I looked outside the box. I found a job in another area that excited me and offered realistic wages. When I told the bakery owners I was leaving, they offered me a $ 12 raise to get me to stay. I hadn't received a raise in two years and would never have asked for a raise in such a troubled economy ... but suddenly, towards the end of the worst pandemic, they were paying me an additional $ 12 an hour? It was a slap in the face. "
“I left and I couldn't be happier. Yes, it's hard to find good help, but it's certainly an eye opener to think if you could have paid this during the pandemic, then where were the wages for everyone else before that? ? "
10. "I worked a 14-hour double shift in a row without a break once. I started crying because I was so overwhelmed and then I finally got a break. It happened regularly. When everything shut down during COVID-19 , I realized how badly the place was damaging my mental health - not just because the management pushed us to our limits, but also because of the way the customers treated us (and the way the management always grind it let)). They know that a place is screwed up when customers treat employees like crap, but management takes the customer's side. "
11. "I worked in an Italian restaurant that did a lot of to-go orders. I was a cashier so I just took orders and ordered in the back to give them to people. The chefs were in for packing the Food Responsible And because the containers were stapled, we could never check the orders. Once the cook made a mistake and mixed up two orders so I unknowingly grabbed the wrong order for a customer. The customer came back pissed off and tossed the food back. I was soaked in marinara and alfredo sauce When I started crying, he was boasting and telling the restaurant, “Look, I made the piggy cry, everyone!” People laughed, and my boss fired me on the spot because he had a policy that the customer was ALWAYS right, and if an employee annoyed a customer it was an immediate termination. "
“To top it off, the customer was waiting for me to leave so he could follow me to my car and brag about how he fired me. I ended up being followed by this guy driving home and he didn't give in until I pulled into a police station parking lot. I've only been there three weeks. I suffered because the order was placed in the wrong slot. (In retrospect, the whole system in this restaurant was fucked ... but still.) That was my last and ONLY restaurant job. "
12. "My break came after I badly injured my back on the watch and was told I couldn't leave until after my shift."
"I went, went to the emergency room and never came back."
13. “I worked in a restaurant for about three and a half years and didn't give up until July. I got the COVID-19 vaccine ASAP, but three of my younger siblings cannot be vaccinated (and I still live at home while I go to school). I live in an area with high COVID rates and my boss made us wear masks for a while. After the CDC eased their attitudes towards vaccinated people wearing masks, my boss said we did. I don't have to wear masks anymore. Because of my family situation, I decided that it was better to play it safe, so I kept wearing a mask. There was this couple who would come in every day and sit at the bar. One day, the guy decided to screw me up about wearing a mask and making rude comments about my body. My boss wouldn't let him stop, and that took about a month. My boss told me to deal with it, but it got worse ... "
"I tried to talk to them, but they didn't stop ... they were even rude to my mother when she came in wearing a mask. After all, one day I'm at work and they start. I ask my boss to stop and he says he won't. I get a disposable mask and write: 'If I wear a mask, does it offend you? 'You are the snowflake.' As they walked to the door, I put the mask over the one I already had. The guy saw it and so did my boss. He said I was here to work, not "spread hate," and if I wanted to do that I could get another job ... and he left. I quit there immediately. "
14. "A waitress from the restaurant I work at served a table on the terrace and there were dogs at the table."
"One of the dogs shit on the terrace ... so people bagged it, put it on a plate, gave it to the waiter and said, 'This is rubbish.'"
15. "My sister-in-law almost broke her knee while she was a waitress and she kept working with her brace. One day she woke up and her knee was twice its normal size. With my brother's business ... really driving he told her to quit as she could make money without ruining her knee.
"She wrote a formal apology and resignation and delivered it personally on crutches ... and her manager said, 'This is a really inconvenient time for you to quit, so we expect you here at 4pm for your shift." She laughed and left. This manager called her EVERY DAY for three weeks and told her they would fire her for no show if she didn't come in. How ... ma'am. We're in a global pandemic and you don't offer insurance, so she's not trying to work her way to the point where she has to operate on a damn server job that doesn't even pay $ 3 an hour. "
16. "Guest disrespect rose 1,000% during the initial COVID-19 shutdown and didn't get any better when things reopened. Sure, the tips might have been good from time to time, but that wasn't it. It is." It's not worth the guests yelling at me and my colleagues all the time just because we had to enforce COVID protocols (and our waiting times were a little longer than usual as we were so understaffed). "
17. "I don't want to keep putting myself at risk from disrespectful customers ... and I'm SO INCREDIBLY tired of asking people to put on their masks while they're wearing chin-hammocks."
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18. “It was horrible in NYC. I remember last year when we were the 'heroes' and worked through the pandemic. Now the shitty behavior is back: terrible tips, attitudes to mask requirements and even more claims than before the pandemic Mal. I am a hospitality veteran and have been in the industry for over 15 years. I've now lost nearly $ 5,000 to therapists and counselors focused on career change because I'd rather be spayed with a plastic spoon than in the industry any other day. Bartending used to be fun ... but it has become a nightmare. "
19. "I worked in the human resources department of a restaurant / hotel. I worked through COVID-19 and was the face of the owners and management when I laid off 50 employees. It was devastating - they were basically a family to me. Me formed a Facebook group for them, sending them weekly emails, keeping them updated on unemployment procedures and possible return to work. I spent hours on the phone helping bus drivers, cooks, and housekeepers with language barriers overcome the horrors I struggled to bring them back and build our restaurant / hotel teams. After all of this, my General Manager, Regional Operations Manager, and Regional HR Manager approved a nice raise for me. A random new HR director from the company who never met me decided that I didn't deserve it ... TWO MONTHS after seeing it already They took it away from me. I had literally approved a mortgage on a new home that I had to resign from because my income suddenly plummeted. "
“I quit immediately and switched to a biotech company, where I make more money with significantly less stress. Their loss. I still get emails and text messages from my former co-workers saying they miss me. Everyone is replaceable for them is just commonplace. "
20. "I've been a server for 25 years and the only reason I'm not going back is because of the customers. Any server will tell you that the customers have become unbearable since the COVID-19 outbreak. Yes, the money can sucks and the working hours are not great, but the Karens of the world are taking over the helm ... a restaurant again. The customers behave worse than my 4 year old grandson. The customers are not always right. "
21. "I've worked in the hospitality industry for about 10 years, in and from different places. My last restaurant was Red Robin, and I was in a pretty high management position. I couldn't stand being forced any longer, my co-workers - people - only as numbers and percentages The last drop for me was that people had to work in weather over 110 degrees with the air conditioning not working in half the restaurant, under the pretext of "being there for the community." It couldn't at the expense of the staff I was supposed to be there for. So I left my keys on the counter and went out. "
"I'm doing much better mentally, physically and financially. The best thing I ever did was go out!"
22. "I was working at a restaurant in New York again this May. For months, I have suffered continual unjustified comments from legitimate Upper West Side customers about my body and appearance, such as, 'All this standing makes you so thin, doesn't it? doesn't it? ' and: 'Next time I'm here, I'll make you eat!' The pay was pretty good so I tried to shrug ... but I've definitely internalized those comments. In July, 80% of the restaurant's seating was outside, on a day that had a citywide heat warning and temperatures was 103 degrees, management didn't let us go in to cool off, or a bottle of water outside at the host booth. They said it looked "unprofessional." After I was yelled at by management for going in for water when I tried to pass out, I grabbed my things and ran away forever. "
23. "When things reopened in June 2020, customers were nice, generally sticking to the mask mandate, and even thanking us for working through a pandemic and risking our safety to serve them. Now, Over a year after reopening, customers are crazier than Black Friday shoppers. "
“The pandemic has really brought out the worst for a lot of people. As restaurant workers, we have to deal with the racism of AAPI hate criminals and All Lives Matter activists. We also have many conspiracy theorists and anti-maskers who use excuses like asthma to justify not wearing a mask and being allowed to go into the whole building and cough. I would probably have stayed if the minimum wage had been - - higher. "
24. "I knew it was time to leave when I could seriously consider rushing down the stairs just to have a legitimate reason to call in sick. I had it all planned, too: downstairs Go wrong 2-3 "steps and hopefully just sprained an ankle."
25. "I sprained my ankle badly while working as a foodrunner. I was in excruciating pain in the emergency room when my supervisor texted me asking if I could find someone to pull off my next shift. They never asked whether I'm okay or if I need help. I got the emergency room bill and had the restaurant paid for me. My shift was never picked up, never went back. "
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26. "Honestly, everything from last year or so was a nightmare ... but the pay was the last straw. I worked for a very popular soup and salad fast-casual restaurant and they screwed all the staff They put people on leave, then tried to get them back with a 25% pay cut, they also eliminated deputy managers and passed their responsibilities on to shift supervisors (without any raise). As a manager, I had all responsibility and stress: every single weekend and Work every holiday, work more than 9 hours without a break, not even get a chance to use the bathroom until hours on my shift ... and I made a dollar more than high school kids who work in retail or in other fast food restaurants. All the stress and responsibility for just one dollar more ?! No thanks. "
“I've been in the industry since I was 13, now I'm 36 and going for a warehouse job. It's sad that it had to come to this, but it's just not worth it at the moment - mentally or financially. " I now have two weeks off, waiting for my new job, quit smoking, lost weight and had no desire for a drink either. Yes, there is a lot that I will miss ... but it's just not worth it at the moment. "
27. "I was the general manager of a very busy downtown restaurant. Within hours of hearing of our first COVID-19 orders requiring us to only serve take-away, my owner dropped more than 75 Firing% of our employees, and then cutting our salaries. The emotional stress of firing employees was significant, especially when we had disagreements about who to fire. All managers worked harder for less and we felt like we weren't When my child's daycare was closed, I had to work from home at some point to keep up with him, at a time when he needed constant supervision it became clear that if I had to choose I would prefer him to my job ... and that was also extremely guilty, I had a job like so many didn't do it. My team needed me and I felt like I couldn't give it my all. "
"Ultimately, I was too happy with the way my owner handled the first few mandates, and when I stayed at home with my son while working, I realized that no job is worth so little time with him. I'm a mom now who stays at home. and we live on less. "
28. “The industry is based on low profit margins and exploitation. Sales were already rising before the pandemic - the pandemic only accelerated the process. Five years ago I got back into the restaurant business as a chef. learn the business then start my own food truck. It's been a tough, wild five years and I've broken spiritually over this industry. It's a nightmare. Low pay, no social benefits, weekend and holiday work and dealing with poorly trained managers (who are also overworked), increasingly argumentative customers ... Do you know how many cooks are missing teeth? More than you want to know. Dentists are expensive. "
“I got a seasonal layoff last week. I'm glad I didn't shed my money investing in a food truck - COVID would have killed it. At this rate, I never go back a few months ago, so I'll be 'flat' until after Christmas. I worked throughout the pandemic and tirelessly covered the staffing bottlenecks in the kitchen. I'm done."
29. "Once, during a double with the Sunday congregation - no tip because they gave all their money to the church - and then my night shift with two tables that stayed an hour after they closed, I left with a $ 30 tip FOR EIGHT HOURS WORK Earlier that day, a customer said I was a "good door opener." Something clicked in my brain and made me realize that I was more. I never came back. "
30. "I accidentally billed a woman for guacamole. She opened her burrito, looked into my eyes and said," See? No guac ... "- then she threw this burrito in my face."
"I quit after that night."
31. "I've been a loyal Dunkin 'Donuts associate since I was 14. I worked my way up to a multi-unit manager and I loved my job pandemic ... now I'm told that three people - me including - “is what it is,” and I should just “do my best.” I walk in at 4am and leave at 4pm as I have to do all the paperwork after the morning rush, exhausted, sore, cranky and angry ... and I feel guilty because my poor employees feel the same way I couldn't bear to tell them to "just do their best." It's just not good enough.
“Before the pandemic, of course, we had those bad days after someone called, but now every day? Busier than ever? No, I'm not going to ask anyone to go to Hell every day for a paycheck better. "
32. "Someone put a cigarette out on my arm. Instead of apologizing, they just said, 'Thank God it was just staff and not someone important.'"
33. “I quit my job at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when I was on leave - not because of the high unemployment benefits I received as a result of federal aid, but because I took a moment without thinking about it or going to work made me feel drained and unhappy. "
34. "I worked in the back-of-house for almost 10 years. I realized that working 60-plus-hour weeks with no sick days, no social benefits, no breaks and every single one was not worth the measly check Missing family vacations restaurants offer. When I was gone, it was almost scary what it felt like to work in a job that actually treated me like a human. "
35. "I live in a big city and work in one of the liveliest areas to go out. We have a mask mandate in our city, which means that when you get up in a store and walk around you have to wear a mask. I'm sick of that Telling people they put one on and get the shit back. I'm done with management not supporting us and allowing people not to wear them for profit reasons. Several employees have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past few weeks, and we were not informed - and the restaurant was not cleaned properly either. "
“I really loved my job and I really loved the industry. But fuck off with this bullshit. I have a 5 year old and an immunocompromised parent. This shit is not a joke for me. "
36. "I worked at Starbucks for about a year just when the pandemic was subsiding and everything was opening up again. We had so, so many problems with people who refuse to wear a mask or got angry when we asked them asked to wear a mask from the start, but the holidays were even worse. People were so incredibly rude and terrible that many of us had anxiety attacks at work. I fell into a really bad depression and had thoughts of suicide. I took one Psychic On sick leave just after Christmas and never came back. I vowed never to work in a job like this again. I've worked in so many customer service and retail stores in the past five years, but working at Starbucks was right. Last Straw for me. I vowed never to let a job drift me into this mental state again. "
37. "In the past six months it has become so difficult to work in a restaurant. Mask duties are an everyday struggle with people. As a cook, I go because of the customers. Everyone seems to think it's all about them. What the hell has happened to our society? "
"Everyone who's never worked in a restaurant, try it for 24 hours, then talk about it. I bet your point of view will change. Raise your hand when you're at tables for $ 2.13 an hour (Yes, in my state, the minimum wage for waiters is $ 2.13 an hour.) Who is willing to work a 10 hour shift? Oh, and don't forget to keep all your bills for that Pay including childcare if you can find them. "
38. "I worked for almost four years in a very small restaurant that never closed during the pandemic. In those early days, the owner" fired "the GM - who he slept with - so she could stay home and collect unemployment benefits. The rest of us had to shoulder the burden of keeping the business going without any help from the owners. It took them months to even provide masks and hand sanitizer. They didn't tell us the rules or protocol, so it was up to us to monitor every single person who walked through the door from week to week. Customers stopped tipping pretty quickly. We received no help or dangerous goods payments. "
“My shifts were all single shifts so I had no one to help me when it was full or a customer got out of hand. I had regulars who would come and treat me like a therapist to the point where I came home crying because I was so emotionally overwhelmed. (Oh ... and the same owner who fired his girlfriend kept attacking me.) "
39. "Ehrlich gesagt, ich arbeite immer noch in einem Restaurant, aber ich knabbere daran, rauszukommen. Ich arbeite wahrscheinlich in einer der liberalsten Städte dieses Landes, aber die Menge an unhöflichen, arroganten, berechtigten Leuten, die kommen in schockiert mich, wenn es um COVID-Vorkehrungen geht.Wir haben gerade wieder ein Maskenpflicht (je nach Gesundheitsanforderungen des Landkreises) eingeführt und sind im Grunde auf unserem letzten Bein, weil die Leute – sowohl Mitarbeiter als auch Gäste – sich weigern, Masken zu tragen, wenn sie nicht an ihrem Tisch sitzen. Ich verstehe, dass Sie ein Problem mit dem Maskenmandat haben, aber an diesem Punkt stehen unsere Jobs und das lokale Restaurant auf dem Spiel. Setzen Sie eine verdammte Maske auf."
40. "Nach der Aufhebung der COVID-19-Beschränkungen Ende 2020 hat mein Restaurant alle Schilder entfernt, alle Tische wieder geöffnet und keine Masken mehr verlangt. Ich habe buchstäblich Leute gesehen, die ich kenne und die COVID-positiv waren den Speisesaal ohne Masken zu tragen... und von uns wurde erwartet, dass wir hinausgehen und sie bedienen. Die Einstellung zur Pandemie war leichtfertig und abweisend. Also kündige ich. Und ich gehe nicht zurück. Es lohnt sich nicht, im Restaurant zu arbeiten Sie werden von Ihren Managern und Ihren Kunden wie Müll behandelt, und Sie werden nicht angemessen dafür entschädigt, wie hart Sie arbeiten müssen."
41. "Ich bin zu meiner Arbeit als Souschef für ein Hotel hier in Orange County, Kalifornien, zurückgekehrt, aber jetzt in Teilzeit. Ich habe angefangen, für Uber und Lyft zu fahren, und um ehrlich zu sein, ich bin jetzt glücklich. Ich arbeite weniger Stunden, habe Zeit für meine Kinder und verdiene mehr als das Vierfache meines vorherigen Einkommens (als ich 6 oder 7 10-Stunden-Schichten pro Woche gearbeitet habe). Küchenkameradschaft mit Leidenschaft."
„Wie ich den Leuten die ganze Zeit sage: Ich kann nicht der einzige sein, der etwas Besseres gefunden hat. Bleiben Sie bei den Konzernen.
42. "Zwei Jahre lang habe ich als Gastgeberin in einem ziemlich beliebten Restaurant gearbeitet, das von einem ziemlich berühmten Koch geführt wird. Ich habe jeden Tag irgendeine Form von sexueller Belästigung erlebt, die von unangemessenen Kommentaren bis hin zu vollmundigem Herumtasten reichte. Ich habe es ertragen es, weil mir gesagt wurde: 'Das ist die Kultur.' Ich war jung und wusste es nicht besser, bis ich eines Tages mit einer Kollegin am Host-Schreibtisch stand. Einer der männlichen Kellner kam zu mir, streckte seine Hand in mein Kleid und ging weg. Mein Kollege und Ich stand beide unter Schock."
„Ich habe es einem Manager gesagt, der dachte, es sei in Ordnung, den Server einfach dazu zu bringen, sich zu entschuldigen und weiterzumachen. Das war nicht der Fall, also habe ich es einem anderen Manager mitgeteilt. Es wurde eine ‚Untersuchung‘ eingeleitet, die ungefähr eine Woche dauerte, in der ich gezwungen war, Arbeite mit diesem Server und ertrage es, dass Leute flüstern, was mit mir passiert ist. Letztendlich sagte mir der General Manager des Restaurants, dass mein Kollege zwar bestätigte, was passiert war, aber keine "böswillige Absicht" des Servers glaubte , also musste ich es fallen lassen und nicht darüber sprechen, was noch einmal passiert ist, oder ich würde gefeuert. Ich habe ein paar Monate später gekündigt. Ich war Anfang 20 und das war ein paar Jahre vor der #MeToo-Bewegung, also war ich Ich bin mir meiner Rechte nicht voll bewusst oder sogar der Tatsache, dass das, was mir passiert ist, als Körperverletzung angesehen wurde. Wäre ich besser informiert gewesen, hätte ich – und hätte – verklagt."
43. "Die Leute sind unhöflich, und einige würden nicht einmal Maskenprotokolle befolgen. Gäste würden sauer auf uns werden, weil wir sozial distanzierte Sitzgelegenheiten erzwingen. Ich habe kein Vertrauen in die Menschheit, nachdem ich während COVID in der Dienstleistungsbranche gearbeitet habe. Mein letzter Tag in der Industrie war letzte Woche, nach 17 Jahren, und ich werde so froh sein, nie wieder einem anderen undankbaren Arschloch zu dienen."
44. "Mein letzter Strohhalm war, als unser Koch beschloss, einen improvisierten Kochtisch zu machen und mich bei 100-Grad-Wetter alle Sitzgelegenheiten im Freien alleine organisieren ließ. Die Tische im Freien waren winzig und er schrie mich an, weil ich die Teller nicht abgeräumt hatte eine Zeit, die er für akzeptabel hielt, als die Kunden in Wirklichkeit noch nicht einmal mit dem Essen fertig waren. Er schimpfte mich betrunken aus, während er die Weingläser der Kunden nachfüllte. Ich weinte vor den Kunden und seine engen Freunde entschuldigten sich für ihn . Er hat sich nie persönlich entschuldigt. In der nächsten Woche kam ein Stammgast rein, pisste sich an, legte dann seine Hand auf meinen Arsch, bevor er sich auf die Couch plumpsen ließ. Der Koch war direkt da und sah alles. Ich erwähnte es ihm gegenüber, und er sagte: 'Es sieht nur so aus, als hätte er deinen Rücken berührt.' Er hat mich nicht einmal meine letzte Nacht zur Kenntnis genommen. Fick dich, Todd."
10'000 Hours / Getty Images
45."Our operations manager subtly asked how people felt about reopening for dine-in as we started getting vaccinated, but there wasn't a moment where we actually had a meeting to discuss doing so. When they announced that reopening was happening in a week, and that we had a whole new set of tasks to do to get ready, I asked some key questions about cleaning and safety protocols. I got a lot of 'uh, I don't know' answers back. I told my manager that unless they wanted to give us raises, I wasn't willing to do certain tasks that I felt threatened my safety, the safety of my coworkers, or the safety of vulnerable customers. I ended up getting pulled into the hallway mid-shift by management to tell me I could either talk it out with them right then and there, or have a Zoom call with the CEO."
"They argued with me, told me that the city-mandated raise of minimum wage was a great raise, and we were 'lucky to even have it,' and tried to convince me that all of my safety concerns were my own fault because I hadn't brought them up before they announced reopening for dine-in. I was burned out from horrible customers, hadn't taken a full vacation day in my 18 months with the company, and put up with dubious safety conditions for the entire pandemic at that point. The manager started raising her voice at me after about 15 minutes of telling me all my concerns were wrong, and shouted, 'If you don't think we pay you enough, why are you even still here?' So, I left my key and walked out. Since I left, many other employees have quit. Now the business is advertising for BOH and FOH at all of its locations — with higher pay, PTO benefits, and sign-on bonuses — but they still can't find enough staff.
46."After 30-plus years in the restaurant industry, working an ungodly number of hours with abusive customers, employees, and owners, I’m now on disability. Any way you look at it, it’s an abusive industry. (Notice that I didn’t even address wages or benefits.) I believe the people that aren't returning after time away realize they don’t have to put up with it anymore. I could write a book on how abusive the industry is."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.
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