Editor's note: Jessica Ann is a restaurant owner who's blogging about trying to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic at My Rebound by FOX 17. She founded The Candied Yam, a Grand Rapids restaurant serving Southern cuisine, in 2016. She is married with a daughter who just graduated high school and an adult son. She lives in Kentwood.
Imagine standing over a hot ass 400 degree fryer .... frying chicken and fish all day - with your face covered with only your eyes left poking out, standing next to a 400 degree oven.
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Add 2 hot steaming pots boiling on the stove. You are also working feverishly at the speed of lighting for 8 hours. Then mix in someone not showing up for a scheduled shift. Now you are standing on your feet for an additional 4 hours because you now have to replace a no call no show. Well it comes with the territory right? This is the way the service industry works. Correct. This is what we choose to do. Maintaining a smile and perfect attitude, we want to get the meals out to make hundreds of customers happy. Wearing a hot and sweaty and musty mask was not listed as part of the job requirement.
PPE or Personal Protection Equipment can be an additional expense that can hit a business in the gut. You have 10 people who need mask. All need to change masks more than once a day because they sweat or touch the mask with their hands, use the restroom and thus should not touch food. We all can use up to 3-5 plus masks a day. That’s each person. We are open 6 days a week. That’s almost 300 masks per week! That’s a big additional expenses when food cost are biting you in the butt as well. When my team revolts because they almost pass out or quit, leave then come back because they realize they ‘need’ this job. I don’t get mad at them. I understand. My team has had the benefit of me working side by side with them so I get it. I’m in the fiery fierce furnace - AKA ‘the kitchen’. Sometimes those mask have to come off or we will be baking ourselves crazy. It’s truly like a sauna.
How many of us see people wearing mask and then they touch it to readjust and get comfortable? All the germs and sweat and salvia are now on the gloves. They touch on everything. They touch the money, the counter and then your food. I am sure you have seen the same thing. I also see the gloves and masks everywhere and I’m not talking about on people’s bodies either. I’m talking about people take them off and throw them on the ground everywhere I go, half in half out of trash cans, in grocery carts, on the ledge at gas pumps, I even saw one on the top of the bank containers that you place and receive deposit and withdrawal slips in the drive through. I also see some places have a trash that says ‘for PPE waste’ and maybe people just don’t get that the little whole in the top is to place the used gloves and masks inside?! Like for real, it’s now trash. They put them just outside the container on the ground. That’s called littering.
My restaurant, The Candied Yam was fortunate and is grateful for the generosity of much needed masks from Kent County, Wyoming Kentwood Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and the DTE Foundation. Even more recently, this week, we were gifted 1000 masks and sanitizer from Lowe’s located in Kentwood. It could not come at a better time. Jacob, from Lowe’s was kind enough to even drop the items off so that we could maintain business.
The governor signed an executive order that masks must now be worn. My team has many concerns because sometimes the customers act as if we made the rules. Customers are not always nice to each other and will argue or even storm out so we try not to get involved with the ‘mask issue’.
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Those that do not wear mask cry that their civil liberties are being infringed upon. Some medical professional claim masks can’t stop the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Hand washing and or social distancing can be put into place to prevent the spread of the virus.
Some argued that the masks are actually a health risk. Masks alleviate some of the stress and anxiety. Masks add stress and anxiety. Opinions are all over the place. People are at risk and afraid of dying. However, if you are scared then you probably should not even come out of the house. It sounds mean, but you will absolutely run into someone without a mask. I know people are frustrated. So much to try to understand. When you have a mass number of people in a place one person can spread the virus so when will things get back or at least head towards normalcy? Is there ever going to be a time when no one has it? I mean absolutely no body?
Those that want everyone to wear a mask are mad and a very pist because they choose to wear the mask and follow the rules but mad at the people who don’t. STOP TRYING TO CONTROL GOWN PEOPLE. It can get scary when someone comes into the restaurant and they start arguing with complete strangers (other customers) because they do not have a mask on. Full blown out arguments. It’s not good for business. Don’t walk by and give someone the stank eye because they don’t believe what you believe. Frankly, if it were bible and nonnegotiable then they would already have made EVERYONE everywhere at all times wear one without prejudice of place or space. Lastly I am TOTALLY for prison reform. But, I also find it interesting that we are releasing thousands of people in jail or prison that actually might have the virus. They were contained and faced imprisonments for a crime but will somehow get out because of the deadly virus? Maybe face mask don’t work in prison, but letting them out will help to slow down the spread?! I’m so confused.
Mask requirements have become politicized. Personally I feel we the American people are pawns in a bigger broader game. I would call the game ‘flatten the curve’. . But, I won’t even touch that topic as it’s even hotter than my kitchen! Remember about 6 months ago when the signs, depending on where you visit would say ‘No hoodies or face coverings’?
I just want there to be some type of consistency. First you tell people to wear the mask. Then you say no. Then you say do. Then you say on Friday it’s mandatory to wear a mask - but not until Monday so that people can find a mask to purchase?! Like this has been happening since March. It’s now July. If you have not found a mask in four months YOU DON’T WANT TO WEAR ONE!