I felt remiss yesterday for not sending out an email, but I’ve spent the past two days responding to literally (and exactly) one gross of email responses to Sunday’s email. Thank you, those who wrote, for your kind support, which was nearly universal, and thank you, those who didn’t, for giving me one less thing to do. I realize, having read your responses, that I came off as feeling a bit victimized, which may very well be hiding at the bottom of it all, but what I’d hoped to get across instead was this: I wasn’t living by my own edicts, and I was calling myself out for it.
Regardless whether Tom was right or wrong to feel the way he did when he wrote that he was done with me for suggesting- nay, requiring- that people wear a mask when they’re mobile in here, (he’s neither, in my opinion- he’s every bit as entitled to his feelings as the rest of us.) I wasn’t writing for sympathy, but I do like to pull back the curtain occasionally and tell people what it’s like to work in this business, pandemic or not. There are perks, to be sure: I eat well and drink well, absolutely. Other restaurateurs are apt to comp dessert or buy me a drink if I go out (though I can’t say anyone who works in a restaurant goes out as often as those who don’t,) and there’s occasional swag from suppliers- I never lack for a free corkscrew, for example. Oh, and I can write off meals, but really, so can anyone who has a business. The other side of that coin is dealing with people. There’s a quip that Townes Van Zandt attributes to someone else between songs on a live album: “It’s not the heat, it’s the humanity,” and he couldn’t have been more accurate. Whether it’s Tom for being “done with” me, or the snarky couple last night, (“don’t you know that the CDC says we don’t need to wear masks anymore?”) an industry that’s already rife with people who want to tell me how this dish or that one would be better, what hours we should be open, what we should charge for a dish, or for catering, or what have you, the CDC’s news just loaded onto the precariously spinning plate of everyone in my industry the added bonus of dealing with the varying interpretations of the proclamation, all peppered with the emphases of the issues that each party wants to emphasize. I saw this on a t-shirt (a t-shirt!) the other day:
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
― Anaïs Nin
So there are those who conveniently ignore that masklessness is now regarded as safe only for the vaccinated, and I’m not about to start checking vaccine cards at the door. We’re a restaurant, not a police state. I’ve also gotten feedback from those who can’t wear a mask for one reason or another, and those others who think people should put their masks on between courses. There’s a guy who wants to sell me sanitizer that ramps up from bleach’s 99.9% effectiveness to 99.9999% effectiveness, and one from earlier on in the pandemic who wanted to come fill my restaurant with ozone at an astronomical cost. There’s the guy who came in for takeout during all of this to say, “well, at least I’m sure you’re breaking even, though, right?” Um, no. No, we haven’t broken even in fifteen months. But you get the point, and that doesn’t include the more normal daily business of “I made a reservation two weeks ago,” even though we weren’t taking reservations two weeks ago, or exploring the various interpretations of what Medium Rare means at a table, or whether a wine is corked. My fuse is decidedly shorter these days, so it’s no surprise to me that I wrote a preemptive “shut up” in Friday’s email, which prompted this whole barrage. But I’m doing my level best to curb my attitude.
What I will say now, in order to end on a high note, is that I’m grateful- we’re all grateful over here- at the steady stream of friends we’ve made over the past twenty years coming in to wish us well, to toast with bubbly, to tip more graciously than is necessary, and to treat the staff here not just like people (which in and of itself is a treat because there’s a significant chunk of the population who doesn’t treat us so,) but with compassion and understanding, warmth and kindness. There’ve been tears shed, by us and by our guests, both happy and sad tears, and there’ve been smiles- seeing a smile is a treat I was unaware I’d missed as much as I had- and we’re rolling around in it like a terrier on a lawn. So thank you, all of you, for that. I missed people throughout our time being closed, but never People, and it surprises me that I find People more pleasurable than I’d previously thought.
Now, in order to get yet another garrulous email out before the dinner hour begins, as it now does at 4 pm, I leave you with the ostensible purpose of this note. Here’s a link to the menu,
and here’s one to this Saturday’s wine tasting,
one to next week’s donation run,
and one to the choices I’m trying to narrow down for what I’ll be washing down my stress with this evening when it’s all said and done.
Go be nice to each other, and I’ll try to do it too.