Becca the Bartender

Interviews with working professionals most affected by the world’s current state.

 “My name is Rebecca Williams, I am 28 years old.” 

Q. What do you do professionally, Becca?

I am the Lead Bartender of Sandbar Sportsbar and Grill in San Diego, California. I’ve been working there for almost three years. 

Q. How has your work been affected by the COVID-19 most recently?

Well, my job was informed to close it’s doors like most all bars and restaurants to help from spreading COVID-19. We are currently offering to-go orders, but that doesn’t require a full staff the way a bar running normally would. 

Q. How have these changes affected you personally?

It is my livelihood, it paid my bills and helped to put food on my table. I was about two and half weeks away from going on maternity leave, so it granted that a lot earlier than I expected.

It also came at a time during the bar’s transition from winter hours to summer hours. Meaning, we were in the process of only getting busier as the days got sunnier for longer. Not to mention the fact that my husband, who is also a bartender, was informed that his bar would also be switching to the “to-go” food method just one day after I was told.

The biggest hit, other than the financial aspect was how quickly it all happened.

From one week to literally just hours, both of us went from a full-time job, to part-time, to no job.

The bar industry is both of our main source of income, so losing that created a slight panic for us both. My sister, brother, and all of my friends work in the industry, so I know I’m not alone. It is definitely hurting us all .

The biggest and probably most frustrating part of this is not the financial part. It is the unknown of when this will be over, only schools, as far as I know have an approximate date in mind as to when things will switch back, but the bars and restaurants do not. There was no “for two weeks.”

Just: “We’re closed until further notice.” 

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Q. When did the gravity of this situation hit you?

Hmm… I would say the day after my husband was told about his job.  That first full day of being home on a day we would normally be working just felt weird, because it wasn’t by choice. I felt helpless because I couldn’t just pick up and grab a different job because every job was being impacted by the COVID-19 prevention methods. I was stressed because I knew I only had a few weeks left before maternity leave, and my plan was initially to work five or more shifts to save for when I was on leave. Losing that sense of security hit hard. 

The carry-out orders can only go for so long. Given the most recent update regarding total lockdown (with the exception of essential needed work), I have even less of an idea as to when things will change. 

I will say trying to find the silver lining in all of this mess is knowing I have been able to see my family almost every day. My husband and I are getting a lot of time together that we are using to do things around our home and prepare for the baby, as well as just enjoying the “break.” 

I prefer to refer to it as a break because I know this won’t be forever.

Q. What resources do you know of (if any) in place to help people in your profession? 

The first resource mentioned by my job was unemployment, which is probably the first resource everyone was given. I know that unemployment changed the wait time from a week to a day in effort to get money out to everyone faster. That is helpful— though the sites were slow as everyone was applying. 

I was then made aware of the United States Bartenders’ Guild. This is a group created for bartenders and other service industry workers that typically meet for industry-related events. They were given a large sum of money from Jameson Whiskey, in order to fund the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program (BEAP). This allowed bartenders, spouses, and even the children of bartenders to apply online and receive money to assist them during these trying times. 

There are also a lot of bars and restaurants that are doing the carry out option for people to be able to have food. My bar has created an employee menu/commissary program, which allows employees of the company or sister company to go in for two free meals a day during this time, which is amazing because I can’t count how many times our meals would be from the restaurant.

Knowing this and all of the other resources that are available make everything feel a lot less stressful. 

Q. What are your predictions for work in the next 4-6 weeks? 

Honestly, I have no idea what will happen in the coming weeks. I try to sift through the information provided on the news and from peers to find the truth, but with so many different stories flowing it becomes hard to do so. I will say, I think within the next two weeks things will be the same. The whole idea is to prevent the spread. I think keeping people at home will allow us to limit how many people get sick. I would imagine we may still be in a lock down given the way other countries numbers have increased so rapidly, even with the lockdowns. 

I would love to say that we will be back in business soon, but honestly, I do not think we will. I can see it becoming more serious before it gets better. There are a lot of people in California, and a lot of people who are still working at those essential jobs, and then going home to their families. I find it hard to think none of those people will move through without infecting someone else. The lockdown the governor stated still allows people to go to the stores, walk the dogs, and be outside with kids. From seeing people out and about since the announcement, it seems that things have slowed down— not stopped. Not to mention we are the first state to issue the lockdown, but the third most infected state. We need to get serious about this before things can get better. 

Q. What advice would you give to people in your same boat?

Try to use as many of your resources as possible— pride aside—they are in place for a reason. Depend on friends and family for support.
Avoid total seclusion, if possible. Our industry is an active one, so find a way to still be social! 

Q. What has helped you manage anxiety and uncertainty?  

My family has been a huge help in managing everything. We talk most of the day, unless we are sleeping, FaceTime frequently and just try to stay available for each other. Having my husband with no interruptions to leave to work is also another important part. 

Oh! And preparing for baby. It is keeping me focused. I know my stress can be felt by my baby, so I try to remember that and find ways to alleviate it. Walking outside, keeping to a normal routine, whether that be for meals or household chores. I am also still in school which is mostly online, so that is keeping my brain working and preventing me from binge watching an unnecessary amount of Netflix. 

Q. Any more ways you know of to help supplement income?

Stay informed. I know I have received a ton of emails from my credit card companies and bank discussing the effect of COVID-19, including financial assistance options. Now would be the time to reach out. Perhaps they can halt payments or work with you in another way to help make ends meet. 

Don’t believe everything you see or read, research before you decide to do anything.  

And again, use your resources! Especially the ones offering financial assistance. I know it won’t fix the income issue entirely, but it may help you stay afloat. 

Q. Any tips for quarantine for someone in the service industry?

This is not a time to completely social distance (which I find to be a terrible term), this is a time to be smart and protective of your health and of others’, so call your friends, FaceTime, lay on the grass outside, and remember that being positive will be more of a benefit to you emotionally and physically than being scared and negative.

Interview by Michelle Lozano, A-LMFT

Resources mentioned:

Feel free to leave a comment below!

Published by Michelle Lozano, A-LMFT

Chicago-based therapist and author

10 thoughts on “Becca the Bartender

  1. Eloquently written. Staying positive is so important in such uncertain times. Focusing on the good things (like preparing for a new baby, support from family and friends & accessibility to internet/facetime) is key.

    Like

  2. Oh my goodness, being pregnant AND staring down this virus outbreak!? Really well done interview. You did a great job specifying what resources would be the most beneficial right now. I’m thinking of you and your soon-to-arrive baby! You’re doing a good job of embodying the phrase, if you can’t see the light, BE the light.

    Like

  3. Being in the industry for so long I can imagine the financial stress but I cant imagine the additional stress of bringing a little one into the world at a time like this. This article highlights how hardworking this industry is and your perseverance to protect your family is inspiring.

    Like

  4. This was very well-written and needed at this time in our society. We often hear about the affects of big businesses and government programs, but it is good to hear from someone that is affected in a different industry. I appreciate your level of honesty and self-disclosure, it is definitely needed. To piggyback off of you , there are resources out there and people should use each other to find them and take advantage of them.
    Thank You

    Like

  5. Reading this gave me such a sense of relief, as someone that has made a living in the industry for 8 years now, it helps to have such an open line of communication with not only your coworkers but anyone that’s a part of the industry. I think it’s one of the few professions that it doesn’t matter where you do it or how long you’ve done you can always share a story with a stranger and in someway or another they can relate and most likely laugh about the stupidity. This will be a tough time for all of us but at least we have so many ways to find new resources, so thank you for sharing some and shedding some light on how to get through these days. Truthfully this is the first time I haven’t muted a group chat of 10+ people because it’s basically the same as sitting in the server station rolling silverware and shooting the shit with my friends/coworkers.

    Like

  6. “I prefer to refer to it as a break because I know this won’t be forever.” Is absolutely what is keeping me going ! Also, knowing none of this is in my hands, everyone is being affected by this terrible pandemic. We need to not only support our own mental health, but make sure we’re supporting others battling the same troubles. This was put together so well! Best of luck on the new baby & prayers for your family over these next few weeks, Becca!

    Like

  7. Great conversation about the real effect this has on the service industry and its employees. The advise of keeping connected is right on point. Using the media that is available to have virtual contact is a great adaptation that benefits us all. We all need each other at this point in time. Having a conversation with someone who is extending an empathic ear can go so far in lifting our spirits. Thanks Michelle for reaching out to Becca and helping her get her story out there to inform and inspire others.

    Like

  8. Great article. Being in the industry as well, it’s honestly a crazy feeling. I miss my friends/coworkers. I miss my life. And no one can tell us when things will be normal again. All this on top of the financial burden makes it so easy to go from “this is fine” to “this is the end”. I admire the interviewee for staying so positive. It’s all we can do. I try to think of all the amazing memes we’ll be reading this time next year about the state of things now, ha!

    Like

  9. My applause for the writer and Becca. This is a true depiction of the double edge sword the world is going through right now. One edge feeling slightly sharper then the other for some. Being a new mom comes with it’s own struggles but throwing in the unknown of how to support this beautiful blessing is disappointing because this is not how a new mom pictures this amazing moment would be. I like how Becca is keeping this positive and making the most of it. This is definitely a “break “ . It will get better. I hope there is some monetary relief for the millions of people in this industry in particular coming soon. It is well deserved. Best of luck to Becca! Keeping you in our thoughts

    Like

  10. Such a great read and so well written For someone that has been in the industry for now 5 years it is great to hear other bartenders view on our current industry situation. This gives me hope that everything is going to work out and as Becca gives us tips on how to stay a float financially during this down time our industry is facing. I greatly appreciate all the help and info that was offered in this article. I miss my friends and guest but most of all I miss the life style that comes with bar tending, so its great to know that i am not alone in this feeling. I wish nothing but the best for everyone in the industry and hope everyone is staying safe. Thank you so much Becca and Michelle for such an amazing article and all the info given. Congrats on the baby Becca!!!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: