Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing the stories of laid off or furloughed service industry workers in Charlotte who are making ends meet with unemployment benefits in a series called Furloughed. I'll ask them how they were notified they were being let go, how they're managing their new budget, and whether or not they're eager to return to work. All submissions are personally verified. To share your story, please email dion@inside485[.]com.
Today's story features a former high volume server in the airport. His unemployment benefits can't give him and his fiancee the wedding of their dreams, but he's not letting that quell his excitement for his upcoming nuptials.
I-485: Before COVID-19 pandemic struck, what was your position?
I was a server in a high volume restaurant in the airport.
I-485: How did you learn you'd be laid off?
Well, our managers did give us a heads up, but overall it was our HR department that told us we needed to turn in our badges. I had to find out to from my fiancee because I never received the text message that told us so.
I-485: How was your experience filing for unemployment? The process of filing for unemployment was terrible. The site would always crash and it made me delay filing because it was just a complete mess. I actually had to have my dad's girlfriend help me set it up because she was able to get a connection to the DES server at her place of work because I couldn't get one at home.
I-485: How much do you receive from unemployment benefits? So far I'm receiving about $700. I-485: Did you receive a stimulus check from the federal government?
No, I haven't received it yet I-485: Have you picked up any new gigs to make money, such as food delivery or temp work? I did get hired for a new job, but when it came to actually going to work the first day I couldn't handle the mental stress and I had to quit. It's really got me in a rut to be honest.
I-485: About how much were you making before the virus struck? How much are you making now including unemployment benefits? Before this virus hit us, I was probably making about 1k/week give or a take. Some days were busier than others. Since then, I've only been on unemployment, so I'm only receiving about $700.
I-485: How do you manage groceries, cooking, food, etc.? So, my fiancee and I make a list of what we need for the next couple of weeks. Then, we both go to different locations (ex. Target and Harris Teeter) and we get whats on the list.
We have been getting a lot of canned/dry food so we can delay going to the grocery store as much as possible. We've been eating A LOT of pasta and rice. We'll throw some veggies in there if we're able to find some good produce, and the occasional meat product so I can treat myself when things are a little more rough.
I-485: How have your habits changed since being laid off? What are some things you've had to give up or adjust? My sleep schedule is just non-existent. As I'm typing these replies out, I woke up at 12:30 PM, so I've been up for only 30 minutes.
Other things I've had to adjust is basically getting used to staying inside the home all the time. You can really take work for granted because it's "work," but it gets you out of the house at least for eight hours and you get to talk with your co-workers and then go home. Now it's just wake up and stay at home. Who knows when you'll get tired and fall asleep? I sure don't.
I-485: What is the biggest financial impact you've had so far? The biggest financial impact I've dealt with has probably got to be our wedding. With things all up in the air, I'm not sure we'll be even able to get married with what we had planned. That said, we'll find a way to elope. We still get to enjoy our time with each other, because at the end of the day I get to marry my best friend and nothing is more important than that.
I-485: How eager are you for the service industry to reopen, even if we're still going through the pandemic? NOT at all. If we were to open during the pandemic, I'd say that's one of the dumbest mistakes we can make. We need to let this thing ride out and make sure we get a vaccine for this. There's no point in risking lives just so we can open up. I get it, we all want to go to work, but I want to be safe and not have to fear people getting ME sick because they wanted to travel while they were sick. People are gross in the airport. It's a fact.
I-485: Anything else you'd like to add? I do want to say is that whenever this whole thing does blow over, please tip your server/bartender well. We took a huge hit during this whole thing and we have had to sacrifice a lot so everyone can be safe during this whole thing. Stay humble about yourself and let this whole experience humble you as well. If you're still working in these times, don't take that for granted. Lastly, please please PLEASE cover your mouth when you cough. I don't want to pick up your card after seeing you cough right into it, and teach your kid to cover their coughs too. It's gross. We all know basic hygiene, right?