“We had every other table open today at Callaghan’s and we were busy but this is the last day of normal. People are still traveling around and were here from out of town. I have been in the restaurant business for almost 40 years since I was 14 and this shut down has never happened to me in America. I experienced SARS in Hong Kong, but I was a school teacher and we didn’t teach for 2 months. I got paid, took workshops, and went to the gym. It even led to a better job designing curriculum online for the school. My ex-husband moved back to Hong Kong two months ago in the middle of the pandemic and said he didn’t teach for four weeks. But things are getting back to normal there now. When I lived there it was shortly after the handover to China and we were upset because we started noticing propaganda in our news. They didn’t allow panic in our news, so we didn’t panic during SARS. I also lived in Hong Kong during Katrina. Watching the news 24/7 made me so homesick for Mobile that I moved back three months later in December 2005. They thought I was crazy.
I am taking this one day at a time. Starting Thursday we are just carryout. We are on limited staff and limited hours. We don’t know what to expect. Restaurant people who make a living at this are living paycheck and are freaking out. We have a single mother who has two young kids and no support from the father. She works as much as she can and she is worried. We have five full-time workers at Callaghan’s and we do what we can to support each other and stay full time.
Customers are calling wanting to know how they can help. One asked about starting a GoFundMe. I appreciate that but I don’t think any of us would feel comfortable with a handout because we are used to work. Help us find work. I manage Callaghan’s, wait tables, and dog sit on the side. We are all used to working several jobs to make it work. I am looking at ways to cut back. I am worried about paying my health insurance next month. Do I drop from my good plan to Obamacare? Do I pay my mortgage and what I normally pay or let some things go? I have been working every day towards St. Patricks’ Day and I can’t imagine what happens next. I have the feeling you have in your stomach when you do something wrong of feel bad about something you did to a friend. That feeling is there now, but you can’t do anything about it. I can guarantee that Noell Broughton, John Thompson, Haley Maulsby, and David Rasp are more stressed about their employees than they are about their own business. Hayley’s has to close completely because they are a bar.
I am a survivor. I was adopted but went into a bad situation. I emancipated from my parents at age 14 and the restaurant business was a good way to make money at a young age. I put myself through college and did everything on my own since I was a young teenager. I have a master’s degree in education, but still work at a restaurant. If you are a restaurant worker you can work hard and survive. I work six days a week and live on my own in a home I love in Oakleigh but I need something to get me through. I applied to Amazon Flex and have been meaning to see about online teaching on China. Maybe his is the time to check into that.
I have to be hopeful and positive and project that to my employees and customers. Servers know how to put on a sunshiney attitude, even if we are having a bad day, because we are grateful for customers supporting us. We are all good at pretending at being okay, but we are scared. If other restaurants are lucky like us, they have clientele that are going to help them through and tip on to-go orders. We are thankful to still have a job and we will somehow get through this.”