I just got emotional turning off my brunch alarm for tomorrow morning. I never thought I’d be upset by that. But here I am, crying and scared. Day 7 is setting up to be the emotional rollercoaster I don’t need.
To follow up, I’m fine; I’ll be “fine.” I have been alone and independent a lot since I turned, oh let’s say, 12 years old. Benefits of being a latchkey kid, being snarky and self-sustainable, Generation X. You could put “self” in front of just about any word, and that sums up my generation. Many articles and blogs proclaim we’re poised for this type of scenario, encouraged by an adolescence of busy parents, empty houses, and MTV. We made our own after school snacks, did our homework without (much) help, and sought it on our own if needed. Hell, I did my college applications and my college tours with friends. I was dropped off at my snowed in university and was alone within half an hour.
I don’t enjoy being alone; I’m just really good at it. Being alone when warranted, such as after a busy night or week of bartending, is a gift. It’s the most socially demanding job I know of, where you’re “on” for 8-10 hours, or more, a shift. Multiply that by 3-5 days a week, and you’re mentally toasted, you’re raw, spent. Small talk is our forte, a lot of necessary shouting, and repeating ourselves dozens upon dozens of times. There’s much more I could divulge on what drives me bananas about my job, but that’s not why I’m here.
I don’t miss the bartending; I miss the connection with people. I will never have a job this fun again. No matter how much I love writing, and books, and being a smarty pants- all that can take a hike. Fun at work seems like the antithesis of what I learned growing up, and current trends don’t seem to have changed. This pandemic could very well destroy the life I’ve known for 25 years in the course of a few months, or weeks. I am not overreacting, and it will not be the same. Nothing about our conventional way of life will be the same after this virus finally subsides, we get it under control, a vaccine, and a lot of people die. I hope I’m wrong, but drastic measures are frequently taken after catastrophes.
If it seems I’m overreacting after such a short period, here’s some perspective. I’m not on vacation, but laid off, and filed for unemployment. I’ve applied for every bartender grant I’ve seen. That is emergency, disaster relief for people who pour martinis (I’m condensing). There are “Virtual Tip Jars,” regional spreadsheets being created throughout the country for people to donate money directly to their favorite server or bartender in place of the gratuities we are no longer receiving. It’s remarkable the care and thought being poured into our community to help save Us.
But I am still scared.
I’m confident, if completely contradictory with my rambling that we will get through this. We will be stronger, if more cautious, on the other side, but emotionally battered and bruised. We will be tired, and not just us restaurant industry folks—parents co-working, co-parenting, and homeschooling. If you weren’t tired enough before, wait until we all take our first collective breather when safe again. That is when the real exhaustion begins; when we go back to our old lives and realize they are not there.