There’s an old song called “Deep in the Heart
less of Texas.” Steven Monacelli at Eater Dallas explores the chorus (italics mine).
Following Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to rescind the state’s mandate requiring the wearing of masks in public places like restaurants, many bar and restaurant workers across North Texas are not looking forward to going back to work once their workplaces can resume operations at 100 percent capacity next week. The decision, which saddles local governments and privately owned businesses with the task of enforcing an essential public health measure, will undoubtedly have a disproportionate impact on these workers.
For a whole year the gamut of American society has weighed in on face coverings. From ballerinas to backhoe operators, we’ve been treated to opinions about the simplest conceivable way to help abate a pandemic. As this topic pertains to “God-given” (and on scattered occasions, “constitutional”) freedoms, the striking aspect of the rhetorical trench warfare is an absence of concern for the shop floor, including those workers at eateries and retail who in essence have been expected to bear the brunt of risks so the rest of us can eat wings.
These workers haven’t been shy about discussing their concerns. The problem isn’t them, but the tendency of so many of us not to listen.
Downshifting: While I have my moments as a writer, it’s always wise to defer to the best when the occasion merits. I turn to Josh Noel, who works out of Chicago. He’s one of my favorite beer writers; however, his oeuvre is by no means limited to beer, as this article attests. For Edibles & Potables today, allow me to direct you to Noel’s thoughtful examination at the Chicago Tribune.
Restaurant workers and their advocates say the conversation about reopening has largely focused on customers and business owners, leaving servers, bussers, cooks and shift managers largely as afterthoughts.
“There’s an invisibility of the restaurant worker, and that invisibility was there before COVID. But COVID, like it has with everything else, has shaken the foundation and exposed the cracks,” said Laura Louise Green, founder of Healthy Pour, a hospitality industry mental health advocacy group launched in 2019.
Restaurant workers have long been overlooked, she said, all the way down to one of the core industry tenets: “The customer is always right.” While she said she believes many restaurant owners don’t intend to harm their workers, “the dehumanization of restaurant workers is what we’re seeing right now.”