Many of us over the last year and a half, relied on food delivery, no-contact pickup and fast food. While customers began to feel more comfortable eating out as COVID-19 restrictions loosened, restaurants found themselves without enough staff to accommodate the long-awaited rush back to the normality of pre-pandemic days.
Jobs in every market and industry fell throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and some businesses have been able to recover. However, over the past few months, it seems restaurants, which were hit hardest, have been struggleing to return. The waits for food and service has lengthened and menus are shorter than usual.
I have read a dozen or so articles and social media posts from food workers who vent about the harsh treatment they are receiving from customers. These tales talk about customers refusing to tip because their order wasn’t accurate or their meal took longer than usual to be made.
In some cases, workers revealed that customers would notice the empty tables and ask why they couldn’t be seated. When workers told them that it was because there weren’t enough waiters to cover the tables, customers sometimes said that the workers must be lazy.
Many restaurants are working with half as much staff as normal. When I came home from the spring semester, I found the Panera bread I work at part time had far fewer employees than it had on winter break.
An opinion piece in the Washington Post I read was from a food worker in a pizza parlor. She explained that while she had gone back to work, very few of her co-workers had as well. They could find better pay and get treated better outside of the food industry. She tried to leave three times, but her boss would in turn give her better hours and paid overtime.
She, like many other food workers, finally got her bosses to listen to her requests. Since so many employees quit and food workers are facing lots of harassment by customers, they decided to stick around if they would be treated better. Even though some employers are meeting employees requests, food workers are still attempting to operate at near capacity with half the amount of people they need to do so.
The next time you are annoyed or irritated and wonder why the cashier, the cooks, the waitress or anyone at a food establishment is not faster, remember they’re still under the same pandemic stress as you and have a limited number of teammates behind their back.