No Matter How Hard We Try
Another letter recently crossed my desk (lol email landed in my inbox). But, the theme lately is the same. I was thinking the other day how a year ago, people were really pulling together. We kinda thought the populus would start to feel burnout last fall. Fall 2020. But, it was a whole lot more hopeful feeling than we figured and people showed up to eat outside with coats on and blankets, and just made it a crazy year to remember.
Well, here we are a whole year later.
People are feeling fried. Folks are on edge. And, painfully, the sad and ugly truth is our service industry is feeling it. Hard. I took a pic of this sign in Brecon Grille's window yesterday and it just really underscores the reality these guys are dealing with.
The email was about how scary it is to be a customer these days, and honestly I feel her. This person is an incredible volunteer and a diehard downtown supporter, and I can't say enough how much we appreciate this intelligent, caring soul. But, it can really feel sometimes like fear and exhaustion are taking over the better angels within us.
I want to share some thoughts here, because I am at ground zero and I see it every single day. This is somewhat quoted (give or take) from my response to address the confusion that this person felt about vaccinations and service workers and restaurants. While I sympathize with each person's struggle to understand what's happening and how we as a community of varying beliefs can coexist, I wanted to share the following --
Restaurants are reeling with a major staff problem that has gone on since March 2020. Over these last couple weeks, owners and management have proudly blessed many of their young, energetic, and beloved employees, waitstaff, kitchen workers and laborers as they left to go back to college or high school.
So even more so now, everyone in the small business world is on edge -- and especially around anything critical of their management or how they run their businesses. They feel like everyone is holding them under a microscope. And well, they kinda are.
Of course they are feeling defensive right now about every single thing. These guys have zero control over what's happening to their businesses, which is obviously because everyone is at the mercy of this mutating virus and the new contagion. No matter how you slice it, the situation is horrible. WE. Are. Sick of it.
But, these guys have been so impaired by the fear and stress of their finances that are just not turning around. They don't have enough staff, so they can't be open more. They can't be open more, because they don't have enough people. This means they can't hold onto employees who want to work because there aren't enough hours -- and that affects their paycheck.
Owners and management are paying out sign-on bonuses to attract new hires and paying higher prices for inventory, so everything is absorbed on their menus and customers are angry about that. And, their waitstaff workers are getting the brunt of lean staff / compromised service, grabbing every shift they can and taking on way more customers in their sections, while people are often pissed at them if they wearing a mask or not wearing a mask or because prices are higher or service is slower. Meanwhile they've been running around in gawd awful heat, sweating in jeans and aprons to meet our every request.
Think about it. Being in the service industry is actually a pretty crappy job right now -- and no wonder there is a shortage. The owners and managers are so frustrated with all of it and being horribly behind on every bill, every customer, every menu. It's tough out there.
But, through all of it, you still get to come and see some some of those people who have totally stuck it out! Lorissa. Sydney. Jordan. Brian. Coby. Alex. Shelly. The list goes on and on and on. We literally love them. And we love those of you who love them, too. We thank you heartfully for your patience and generosity -- to the moon and back.
At Saline Main Street, we do events like Oktoberfest to bring people to town for a great time. We want to have a drink with you, wear fun clothes, dance and relish in Michigan's beautiful harvest together. But mostly, we want you to fall in love with our people here. We hope you will come and just marvel at how hard they work, how much they want to make you happy and realize that we all have to meet our own standards. We know there is a pandemic going on, so we ask that you recognize your own limits. If you can't come because you're worried, we totally get it and will keep hoping for this Covid thing to end so that you can return safely and confidently. If you do come, find it in your soul to give people a little space and understanding, some dignity, and a little slack. We've gotta look out for one another -- and appreciate those who are doing the best they can in business and in service.
Love is the answer. Be good to one another. Prost!
Loren, Ron and Wally :) No matter how hard you try you can't stop us now. #getsalty