I have to work. I work in a restaurant that I can’t name due to contractual obligations, but unfortunately for us has a takeaway operation as part of its offering. In my gaffe, that amounts to a heady influx of between £300 and £500 per week. Ironically, that mostly falls mid-week, so I’m not expecting a busy shift today.
I have a range of emotions about this situation. Fear and worry are the most present- for both the team and myself who are potentially exposing themselves to infection through contact both on the way in and from whoever comes through the door. But also for those not working due to the reduced hours from the lockdown. The waiters, waitresses, and assistants that have been told to wait at home while the government sorts out issues with paying them. So we’re down to just 2, the minimum our insurance permits, a manager and a chef.
There is anger too, anger at the government for not doing this sooner – earlier lockdown would inevitably limit the spread, and therefore the number dying, but as so many things in this world, it comes down to money and keeping the economy going. Anger too at the bosses who have mandated that we continue with the takeaway, despite it making up such a small part of the business. It feels like we are chasing leaves before the hurricane hits. There is no way that the sales would justify the cost of being open, and they are putting our health on the line to find this out.
Sadness is there of course, the death count has begun in the UK, as it has over the rest of Europe. We’re on the expanding edge of infection, so the Europeans are dealing with worse cases than us. We’ve seen the count in China reach over 4000, and still climbing, and that seems like an impossible number to deal with. Italy have reported another 793 cases, and are reaching China’s totals fast. With it targeting the older people too we feel for those losing parents and grandparents too soon, whilst praying fervently that it won’t be ours.
Amongst it all was the frustration and helplessness – that we would potentially be put at risk by the muppets still refusing to believe that this was a real thing – the papers were full of pictures of packed pubs and drunks staggering around the town centres, young and elderly mixed up in a cross generational act of defiance to the situation. How can these people not see it? That nice old man who commented on your girlfriends dress could be destined for the grave because you’ve unknowingly been exposed through work or the series of ‘quiet pints down the pub’ that you’ve enjoyed this week. Your Nan who put you up because you were too drunk to make it home… Pure selfishness.
The journey in was interesting, seeing numerous people outside pubs, some knocking on doors and windows, ‘Are you open?’ For the most part, traffic was far more than a lockdown suggested it should be. I end up late, my gamble of less traffic versus my reluctance to leave not paying off. Arriving at 2pm for the nightshift, total sales stand at £0 from the day so far.
The feeling of pointless exposure was stronger. I had arrived with a headache and neck ache, and was really resenting being here. During the course of the shift we were to take 4 takeaways, 3 through Deliveroo and an NHS discounted order who walked in, a whopping total of £190.
The deliveroo guys looked about as nervous as I felt, not knowing where each other had been. And not wanting to get close, so we got into the habit of putting the boxes down and moving away so the other can come get it.
After every visit, I practically chased them out with sanitiser spray. The silver linings being that as it turned out, my headache was dehydration, and we were home by 10pm.