Oh Covid, What Have You Done

Kelly Langevin, Social Media Editor

My stomach rumbled with shaking hands as the wheels of my car turned into the parking spot that I anxiously chose. I went on to search my car for the waitress apron that hadn’t been touched since March.

It had been three months since I was furloughed from my job because of coronavirus but finally, it was time to return.

“Frick, where’s my mask?” I annoyingly asked myself, praying I didn’t leave it at home.

I reached below to pull out my black mask with bright red chili peppers, put it on and walked into work, hoping that I wouldn’t feel lost.

“Are you kidding? I waited this long for my food and it looks like this. I want a full refund,” a tall, angry blonde woman with a pixie haircut yelled to my manager at the To-Go station. I definitely didn’t feel lost anymore.

Boom, welcome back to food service.

It was a weird feeling that day: wearing a mask that muffled my already soft-spoken voice and sporting over-sized working gloves was not my familiar work attire. The day consisted of dropping my pen one too many times and accidentally writing a whole order in complete gibberish because my hands were simply not at ease, followed by staring at the menu again and again due to my nerves.

Oh COVID, what have you done?

I spent the day sanitizing every table that was open over and over again —even cleaning the tables that were taped off to maintain the restaurant’s 50 percent capacity. The only thing that COVID made easier at my job was the pay-at-table tablets.

After a few hours went by, wearing a mask to keep myself and others safe didn’t phase me. It was different, but not impossible.

“Sir, your T-shirt over your face does not count as a mask,” the restaurant host exhaustively explained to the umpteenth person that day. After an exchange of unpleasant words, the man left and did not return.

I thought to myself, “thank God,” because I did not want to serve that guy. But as I turned around, thinking I was lucky, a party of 10 walked in equipped with their masks.

According to CDC and our corporate office, the restaurant cannot seat more than five people at a table unless one is an infant.

The host kindly explained their family can be seated but at separate tables and was not allowed to get up and keep talking to each other because of social distancing around other guests. They agreed and were seated.

“Hi guys, welcome can I take your order?” I asked the first table of adults who were standing and not sitting.

“No, we need a minute,” one woman replied.

As I walked back over to my manager, I told her the table would not sit down.

“They’re protesting,” my manager explained. “They can’t be seated together. They’re protesting.”

My job has always been more than writing down an order, serving food or scraping the unwanted pieces into the trash. My job has consisted of listening to customers, the good and the bad, and being told I do my job very well or plain awful.

But with COVID being added into an already chaotic setting, the new wave of reality has not set in on everyone yet.

Though I was away from my job for three months, it didn’t take me long to realize Covid-19 has changed just about everything I thought I knew. And with every shift I walk in wearing a mask, feeling ready to embrace the new chaos that will come my way, there is always people with T-shirts high above their noses and the families who try to protest the restaurant rules.

When my shift ended and my wheels turned out to leave the parking lot, I glanced back at the brightly lit restaurant and let out a heavy sigh.

“Oh, COVID,” I said. “What have you done?”