Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's sixteen miles to the Promised Land

I've come to view writing in my blog as an act of domesticity. Perhaps it's because the blogs I've been reading lately have been "lifestyle blogs" (ie: someone much craftier and more motivated to write than I blogs about their everyday life), or perhaps it's because I approach blogging with the same mentality I do, say, cleaning the bathroom. I don't actually mind doing the work itself, I looooove the end result and always feel like I should get a gold star on an accomplishment board, but finding the motivation to just suck it up and do it already is a project.

I've been sick the last few days which has given me time to reflect upon past illnesses, how I deal with being sick, what "being sick" means to me, and so on. This current plague seems to be a reoccurrence of the last time I fell ill a few months ago. Last time I mostly felt "vaguely sick-ish" but had a pronounced and horrible middle-backache. I kept asking everyone at work if I was dying of meningitis. Note that sentence implies that I kept going to work. This time I had the horrible backache again, but it was preceded by a sore throat and swollen glads and appeared simultaneously with a rapid-onset fever, chills, the weakness of a kitten with worms, and a less intense but still present all-over bodyache. The sore throat and swollen glands showed up when I woke up to go to work at 6:30am Sunday and the rest showed up in exponential increases as I went about my shift.

The restaurant industry at large is often criticized, and fairly so, for being suuuuuper shady when it comes to employee health and wellness (and therefore customer health and wellness). Shifts are scheduled to the bare minimum, so an employee really can't just "call in sick". I have to find a replacement, or else my coworkers will be overworked and the customers will be underserved. Therefore, even if I've lost a limb to a rare combination of gangrene and the bubonic plague if I can't find someone to come in for me, I HAVE TO come in and work.

Does this make business sense? For the most part, no. Customers can tell when their bartender is sick and it grosses them out to have a probably contagious person handling their food and drink. They might leave to go somewhere else where there aren't visibly dying employees. They might not stay for dessert because they just want to get away from the sniffling mess that's bringing the food out. They will very likely not recommend the establishment and will think twice about coming back. On the flip side, if you just let people call in sick, guests don't know that the reason their salad is taking twenty minutes to come out, or five minutes for the one lonely bartender to get around to greeting them is because the restaurant thought it would be better for everyone if Typhoid Mary stayed home. They just know that the service sucks, and the bad cycle is begun again.

Practicalities aside, hourly restaurant employees don't get sick days. If you don't work, you don't make money. If you call in sick anyway, you might get fired. Servers, bartenders, busses, and line cooks are a dime a dozen. We're expendable and we know it, so there are a lot of factors that go into the decision of going in for your shift anyway when you're vomiting every fifteen minutes.

That said--my manager Sunday morning handled my rapid onset debilitation in a professional, employee-minded, business centered way, and I'm almost ashamed to admit that I was shocked. It's not that I don't have faith in the humanity and compassion of my bosses, it's just that I know their decisions have to be made with "Overall Guest Satisfaction" in mind, and that's often at the expense of us. I'd asked him around 9am if it'd be possible to evaluate getting me out of there when the 3rd bartender showed up at noon, because I was just getting worse and worse. He asked if I could make it until 2pm when the 4th bartender showed up. I gave an uncertain "okay...". Around 11am, after the 2nd bartender was on the clock, and when my manager walked into the bar to me sitting on the floor by the mix cooler with my head in my hands, he pulled one of the servers off the floor to have them come help out in the bar and sent me home. All shifts were still covered, and I didn't have to be there.

I'm on my way to being recovered. I had yesterday off, I found someone to cover my shift tonight, and I just noticed I have tomorrow off also. My awful back and bodyaches have gone away, as has my fever, but I'm left with a lingering sore throat, swollen glands, and my dry cough has turned into a wet, hacking one, which I think means I'm almost done being sick.

On a completely different note, Seester accepted her acceptance to the English PhD program at Boston College for the fall. I'm simultaneously elated and sad. I think the program is her dream come true and will help her become an Allstar of Academia, but, I mean, Boston's really far away :(

1 comment:

  1. So goooood to hear you're on the mend. Now finish it off! And never let it back into your life.