To the editor:
Admit it – aren’t we all really excited to be getting back to our lives? Have you gotten together with friends because everyone’s now vaccinated? Have you gone out to a restaurant, not just for take-out, but for an actual meal served by a real person? Maybe you’ve even taken your first post-COVID-19 vacation?
It’s exciting, but like so many aspects of our lives impacted by 15 months of COVID-19, we’re learning that it doesn’t just snap back immediately. And there is an essential ingredient that we can provide as customers in speeding up that recovery: compassion.
Recovery is not as easy as it looks. Behind the scenes, to make that possible, is an army of people working to help the service sector recover. First, there are business owners, who stretched cash flow to somehow make it through a 15-month pandemic and get to the other side. Second, there are suppliers, who are ramping back up on short notice to frantically locate the goods to meet the explosive resurgence in demand for dining, lodging and experiences.
But most importantly, there are the staff who are returning to provide us with those experiences. Food servers, front-desk staff, retailers, guides. During the pandemic, many of them endured furloughs, shortened hours and the loss not just of income, but of personal connection and continuity.
As businesses throughout the United States seek to staff back up, they cannot get to 100% employment overnight. So, the burden on the existing staff is greater – more customers to serve, more rooms to clean, more passengers to board, all with more stringent protocols to follow.
And that’s where we come in as guests. Let’s show some patience for the front-line workers who are doing their best, some recognition for the owners who had the tenacity to make it through and compassion for each other as we wait a little longer, tip a little larger and share our appreciation of the opportunity to be back out in the world again. The gift of kindness flows both ways, and it feels great to be back.
-Patricia Washington president and CEO, Visit Alexandria