Collateral Damage

From East Haldimand County / Northwest Niagara Region / Most of rural Hamilton, ON
East Haldimand County / Northwest Niagara Region / Most of rural Hamilton

Mon May 10 2021


Collateral damage is injury inflicted on someone other than the intended target. The collateral damage of the lockdowns are everywhere from the school's being closed, to cancelled surgeries to bankruptcies. People's Mental Health has never been more front and center yet, still taking a side burner to Covid.

This is my Covid story:

I am a bartender and server and have worked in the hospitality industry for over 20 years. I was born into this industry, my entire Big Fat Greek family is involved in restaurants and banquet halls and have all been affected by the yo-yo lockdowns and restrictions. I choose this industry because I love interacting with people, I love providing a great guest experience and having them leave happy. Hospitality is in my blood and it's where I shine. I miss the buzz of a busy restaurant, I miss making drinks and talking to my regulars. There are regulars at every restaurant in every town who are like family to the staff. We not only know their favourite food and drink, we know their kids, parents, siblings and their stories. Some come to us to share their joy, others their grief, but they all come to talk. We are a space for them to interact with friends, meet new people, find love, celebrate important events, mourn loses and process grief. We are more than hospitality professionals, we are friends, family and someone who will listen to your story when maybe nobody else will. In many cases, we see our guests more than we see our own families. My income has been severely affected, severed really. Who decided that my industry is not essential? EVERY industry is essential to everyone it employs. It's essential to me because it provides me the ability to earn an living, to feed my family and to pay my mortgage. The government has put the most restrictions on our industry, yet they haven't provided any data showing we are responsible for the spread.

When was the last time anyone took your contact information at Costco or Walmart? My restaurant is over 6400 square feet and at one point we were allowed 10 people indoors yet at the same time my local Costco was allowed 496 people! We have always had more stringent cleaning standards than anywhere as food handlers. You said outdoors was safer, many restaurants have spent thousands of dollars to build covered patios that they aren't allowed to use. The losses of opening and closing are irreversible. So many in our industry have shut their doors forever. I'm sorry but nothing about this makes sense. You have picked our industry to villify with no data to support. Last summer my husband and I made the difficult decision to sell our house and move further away from the GTA in order to lower our expenses in anticipation that my work would continue to be affected by restrictions and we were right. While I'm glad I've lowered my expenses, we are further away from everything and everyone we know. We have uprooted our teenagers to a small town, where they have no friends, are not allowed to go anywhere due to restrictions and can't make any new friends. They spend all their time in their rooms. They both have told me they hate it here and are depressed. My heart is broken for them. Their lives are on hold. My youngest son never got his grade 12 graduation, his prom his or big send off with his friends due to the first lockdown. He decided to postpone university in Fall of 2020 because he didn't want to do virtual learning. He has registered for this September yet it still looks like he will still have to do online anyway so he's now a year behind others his age. My eldest son has been waiting to travel since 2019. His plan was to see the world the summer of 2020 before deciding what field he wanted to get into, a right of passage so to speak. That obviously didn't no pan out, so now he's working a minimum wage retail job a few days a week and has no hope for better times. I see sadness and dispair in his eyes. These boys are suffering. As a mother this kills me and I don't know how to make them feel better because I have never felt more hopeless before myself. I had to go on antidepressants for the first time in my life. I have never suffered from mental illness before. I am a hard worker, who excels in a fast paced environment. I have never used social assistance. I have never felt like less of a person. I don't want EI, I want to go to work and feel normal. I want to pay my bills and feel like I'm contributing to society. I want my teenagers to go out, explore the world, have experiences, meet girls and feel normal. This is not normal. Humans need interaction with other humans, we are social beings. That's normal. There is no such thing as "new normal'. Stop with the propaganda. The only new normal I see is the divide you have created between people who's livelihoods have been affected yet are bring told to continue to sacrifice "for the greater good" and those whose income haven't been affected at all. I have never seen more division in my life. What's the end game here? At what point do we examine the big picture, and not just the virus? People feel hopeless, and without hope people have nothing. How many lives will be lost to depression? The collateral damage is real, please open your eyes and pay attention before it's too late.

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