Simmons: Why I continue working my essential job during the pandemic

Adrian Simmons

I have been a full-time student for 11 years, but this year is different because I added a job into the mix of homework and sports. 

At first it was pretty difficult to keep up with my schooling and getting to work on time. I couldn’t do sports anymore or I would lose out on opportunities to advance at work. Now I run the kitchen and my boss depends on me more than anyone. 

The only other thing I had to worry about was school. 

Then COVID-19 started causing trouble and turned everything upside down. At first I wasn’t really worried about it — the virus was oceans away and I figured we would have had a cure by now. 

Sports activities started getting canceled, tensions were rising higher. Then in-school classes were canceled for the rest of the year. 

That was the big one. That is what really started to make me realize this was a big deal. It also gave me a chance to start working more. Now I basically had a full-time job and no school. 

When we started getting the e-mails for continued learning, I thought it was back to school and work. But with our third quarter grades frozen, I only have two classes to worry about. 

Things started changing at work, too. We were usually pretty packed every night, but now people stopped coming to eat because they were afraid of coming into contact with others and getting sick. 

Then the government said we were not allowed to have more than 10 people in the restaurant at a time. Well, now what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to make money with no customers?

We adapted and overcame —  we only do delivery and takeout, and we are almost as busy as when we were open as a restaurant. 

There are so many more rules and regulations we have to follow now because of COVID-19. Everyone has to wear gloves at all times, our manager makes us wash our hands more frequently, we have a section of the counter closed off for the customer’s food. We can’t even touch that part of the counter, and we don’t allow anyone inside the building. 

It has been difficult to keep the restaurant open. We had to lay off half of our staff, decrease our hours and change everyone’s hours. 

I had friends who I never get to see now because we just couldn’t keep them hired and keep the restaurant open. 

My dad has had to start working from home to flatten the curve. Since I work in a restaurant I’m considered an “essential business,” I go to work. He’s under the impression that my job is not essential.

It’s about how you look at it my income may not be essential to the family — I don’t pay the bills, but I need money for gas and to start my future off right. I’m essential to my boss and keeping his dream alive. I’m also essential to the general public. Not everybody has time to cook at home nor do they want to all the time that’s what restaurants are for.

 He doesn’t like that I’m still going to work because of the current situation. He’s really on edge trying to get all of my family through this pandemic in good health. 

We’ve gotten into a few arguments as I’m trying to be an adult with a job, a student, a big brother, a son, and have what little social life I’m allowed with the outside world.  

Now is not the time to dwell on what I want. Now is the time to focus on what our country, the world and my family needs from me. Everyone has to do their part to end this crisis and make it back to normality.