Be kind to service workers during the pandemic: a service worker’s perspective

Written By Chandni Shah, Copy Desk Chief 

As a global pandemic continues to ravage the world, there is one absolute truth that remains: people have to eat. Where or when people decide to engage in this activity is none of my business, unless they have a hankering for some Americanized Mexican food and decide to visit their local Mad Mex restaurant. 

I am a server and bartender at Mad Mex, specifically at the one in Scott Township, and there are many unprecedented changes and precautions that I and fellow employees must abide by during these trying times. 

Recently, Governor Tom Wolf announced that restaurants could go up to 50 percent capacity indoors, which is a good thing for business, but it means talking to double the amount of people per day, putting us into even more risk for contracting the coronavirus. And since there are more customers, we need more employees on the premises. The new order also allows restaurants to serve alcohol until 11 p.m. and close at 12 a.m., but Mad Mex chose to continue going by the old rule; serving alcohol till 10 p.m. and closing at 11 p.m. 

As a server, I come into my fair share of people who have many not-so-kind words to good old Wolf about these laws. We get a decent amount of “Karens,” male and female alike, who complain about having to order real food in order to get alcohol. I repeat at least 20 times every shift that I don’t make the law nor will I break it for them. Your margarita can wait 10 minutes. 

It can be very frustrating at times, especially when customers continuously complain about the new laws or refuse to wear their mask. At times, I am wearing a mask for over 12 hours a day and some customers think that they can walk about the restaurant willy nilly contaminating the shared breathing air. 

Yes, I may sound a bit rude while talking about my customers, but this is not everyone. There are also a good amount of regulars and other customers who genuinely feel bad for us and will leave a 35 to 45 percent tip. I can’t say the same about everyone else though, yesterday someone left me $1 on a $50 check and not once did they say they had a problem with me or their food. 

Another issue we face is that a lot of the time we are understaffed. People get sick with a cough or a general fever and we have to send them home until they are able to be tested, leaving the rest of us with more tables and more work. It is a lot to handle at times, especially when we all already work full time hours. 

My advice to students or staff going out to restaurants at this time is just to be conscious of their attitude towards certain rules when talking to their servers and other workers. If it were up to us, we wouldn’t be coming in and we’d be able to collect unemployment, which isn’t the case as of right now. We are all just trying to make money and pay our bills without getting a lecture on “why masks don’t work” twice every shift.