The pandemic has been a roller coaster for every one of us, clearly. Some days are good; some are horrible. We’ve lost people we love, we’ve been yelled at by people who believe the opposite of what we believe, and we’ve all made dramatic changes to the way we live our daily lives.
As for me, I’ve been amazed by the kindness and generosity of the people who live in this community, and even by that of people who live well outside its bounds. I’ve also been hobbled by circumstance, as has my belief in the generosity of the human spirit. It’s mostly been an uplifting experience, working in the industry that’s arguably been as affected as any other, if not more so. I’ve watched people leave a $250 tip on the purchase of a cookie. I’ve watched people donate their entire stimulus check to front line workers and to people struggling with homelessness. But we’ve also had our staff berated by a man who said he thought it was illegal that we didn’t seat him in the dining room, and been broken into, and yesterday discovered that the guy who came in last week and walked out with six bottles of high-end Champagne, five entrees, sides, appetizers and desserts to the tune of $720 (contactless please) did it with a fraudulent credit card.
So Dear Piece of Barely Human Garbage,
That you lack conscience enough to go into one of the most affected businesses of this pandemic, one whose staff is barely eking out a living and who may, if we’re lucky, survive this, and for one night of a good time for you and your friends, kick a whole family of people when they’re down, makes me lose my faith in humanity yet again. I lost it when people marched through Charlotte with torches in their hands, and got it back when they gave food to the women lying on mattresses on the floor at the Sister Jose Women’s Center, sleeping the sleep of a person who hasn’t felt safe for weeks until just that moment. I lost it when people stormed the Capitol, smashing windows and crushing the heads of Capitol police officers in doors, and I regained it when people showed up, scores of them, donating far more than they needed to to attend the benefit we did with Child and Family Resources last week. I lost it again today when someone decided that half a dozen bottles of Champagne and dinner for five shouldn’t be paid for unless it was by a business that’s leaving fingernail marks on the floor as it tries to pull together enough staff to reopen its dining room. And I will regain it, and I’ll kick you to the curb. I await your comeuppance, with relish.
I don’t write this in hopes of pity. It’s purely cathartic. Or almost purely. The real reason I write this is so that when you walk into ANY restaurant, or bar, or small hotel, or a host of other small businesses, you realize that there are people there, human beings, who’ve been living like street urchins for 13 months. They’re on food stamps. They’re behind in their rent. They’re wondering how this whole experience won’t kill them and their families, and they’ve been doing it for over a year. Seven hundred dollars is seven hundred dollars. In the grand scheme of things, it’s nothing. But the lack of respect for a fellow human being enduring thirteen months of fear and stomach-churning stress? That’s everything. It’s not about tipping, nor is it about spending. It’s about treating someone who’s struggling like you’d want to be treated, and I’m acutely aware that I am, in large part, preaching to a choir of marvelous people who’ve been amazing to us and to other small businesses in the community for over a year now. But a reminder in the back of our heads is never a bad idea, and I’m asking you today to think about someone you didn’t think about yesterday. Think about that grocery store employee who never worked remotely, never took a day off, and never blinked while people hoarded toilet paper and meat and hand sanitizer. Think about the bank teller who counted everyone else’s money all day without knowing whether it would infect them. Think about the EMT who took your neighbor to the ER, where doctors and nurses and PAs and janitors all risked their health and safety for a hundred people each day, a hundred people whom they’d never met.
I don’t care that some hateful jerk ripped me off. I care that he treated forty perfect strangers with ultimate disrespect. And I care that this person is undoubtedly pulling the same scam at one grievously injured restaurant after another, stealing from people already at the end of their rope. It’s a fundamental disrespect for humanity writ large, and it offends the hell out of me.
Dear Piece of Barely Human Garbage,
There’s my catharsis, and I thank you for your attention to Dramatic Doug. Take it, leave it, ignore it, do what you will. It’s off my chest now. Who knew that when you filled out a little slip to be added to a restaurant’s email list, you’d be subjected to diatribes like this? Down to business, now, if you’re still with me, here’s a little blurb about tomorrow’s wine tasting,
and one about next Tuesday’s delivery to the staff at Banner’s Crisis Response Center,
here’s a link to the menu,
and one to the wine list.
Here’s my intention: I’m going to purposely and purposefully go out today and look for someone working hard at the business of getting through a particularly hard time in this life today, and I’m going to reward them for it in some simple way that I can. I’m going to use that moment to regain that faith in humanity, even if I’m the one who has to demonstrate it to myself, and I’m going to walk away from it feeling good about not only myself, but about everyone who’s shown me that people are basically good, and that it’s the exception that proves the rule.
Dear Piece of Barely Human Garbage,
It’s your problem now. I’m okay with all of it.