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February 29 2020


Do not Thump the Book of G'Nome on Twitter




I am not an expert in immunology - I follow doctors for that.

But I did spend 9 years as a manager at a pizza place that paid better than average wages for food service.

And I am terrified of #COVID19.

Not because the virus is going to kill people, but because poverty might. /
Y'all, all laws aside, nobody in the restaurant industry goes to the doctor when they’re sick.

There are health code rules about what symptoms exclude you from work - you have to go to the doctor and get cleared, or be symptom free for 24 hours.

And they are *never* followed. /
The people making your food do not have health insurance. Restaurants almost never offer it.

They do not have paid time off. Benefits like that aren’t imaginable.

They do not have enough people in the schedule to cover an absence. “Lean Staffing.” It’s more profitable. /
The average age of a fast-food worker is 29. The average income is $8.69 an hour. I was taxed around 21% on paychecks.

The average doctor’s visit w/o insurance, costs $300-600.

43.7 hours. At minimum, more than a week’s take-home pay.

Going to the doctor is an *insane luxury*.
I have watched people PRIDE themselves on working through illness and injury. I had a driver break his foot by stepping on a tennis ball in someone’s driveway, and then work another four days on a broken foot on ibuprofen and spite.

Flu-like symptoms?

Fuck out of here.
MOST fast food workers are already on some kind of public assistance.

Many of those are “means tested” and require them to keep jobs.…
This means that

1) Fast food workers literally cannot afford to go to the doctor. They will do what we’ve always done - dose up heavily on DayQuil, puke in the bathroom, explain things away as being “hung over” or “tired,” and their manager will pretend nothing is wrong.
2) Fast food workers literally cannot afford to miss work. The median age is 29 for christ’s sake. These are people with bills, families, responsibilities.

Median 2-bedroom rent is ~1,194/mo. That $8.69 wage is ~1,190/mo take-home pay.

Even w/ roommates, that’s HALF YOUR MONEY.
You can’t afford to take off work to go to the doctor, much less take off work when the doctor says you need to be quarantined for three weeks. You need every hour.

Otherwise you lose your job, then your housing, and anything else that keeps the wolf away from the door.
When this happened to me, the doctor said I needed to be off my feet and resting for two weeks, light duty for another two.

I took 4 days. It was one of two times in nine years I missed work, both of them involving a trip to the emergency room.

People who work food service are less likely to have reliable transportation - so they ride mass transit, exposing themselves to more people.

They live together in tight spaces, ensuring it spreads between folks.

They have poor diets, poor sleep, and weakened immune systems.
~14mil people work in food service in the US. They’re in every community. Everyone has to eat.

They live and work in conditions that make the spread of disease inevitable.

They won’t go to the doctor until it’s a crisis, long after they’ve passed things on to others.
The Flu is bad enough, going around a kitchen.

#COVID19 is substantially more easily transmitted than the flu.

And we’ve created a situation where food service workers’ SURVIVAL depends on doing THE EXACT OPPOSITE of anything that could fight a pandemic.
And these are the people making your food.
The average food service worker is a millenial. 62% of us live paycheck to paycheck.

And it doesn’t have to be like this. In our parents’ lifetimes, it wasn’t.

God Bless the Conservative movement and their deregulation, pro-business legislation, and “choice.”
Poverty is a public health crisis, y'all. Wage Slavery kills.

And if you can’t be bothered to care about that out of your basic human dignity, maybe the fact that the servile class you’ve been supported by can’t afford to not make you sick will fucking help.

Eat the rich. /end

I’m a barista at a very large and famous coffee company (y’all know the one) and we are, technically speaking, supposed to have it lucky. Because we get paid time off and some of us do have health care.

Except paid time off doesn’t kick in until you’ve been with the company for a year. You are only eligible for health care if you work over twenty hours a week. And even with all this—at my store, the “work through the pain” mentality is SO STRONG, y’all.

I have gotten sick because supervisors have come to work sick; we pass it back and forth to each other, and try to blame it on the cold or the changing weather. I have had to call out maybe twice—once because I was new and sneezing and coughing and my friends were all telling me that it was irresponsible to go in, and once because a cold had ravaged my voice so badly I sounded like Kermit the frog’s evil twin. Both times I did exactly what I was supposed to do: called my manager with plenty of advance notice. The first time, she guilted me into coming in anyway, saying that she would try to find coverage for me but that it wasn’t likely she’d be able to. I struggled through four hours of that shift before my nicest coworker showed up early so that I could go home and get some rest. The second time, I got the day off, but had to cover 8- and 9-hour shifts the next two days to “make up for it.”

This is how we are staffed: we don’t have enough people to cover absences. If any of us is sick we will absolutely come into work—and I am stunningly, immensely privileged in that I was able to try to get out of working: most of my coworkers have kids and families that they need to provide for.

If Coronavirus spreads in the US, your friendly neighborhood baristas will be behind the counters. We will be smiling, stifling coughs, making drinks that we’ll be trying not to sneeze on, and running to the back to blow our noses, wash our hands, and get back out there, because you can’t run the floor with just two people during peak.

Eat the fucking rich.

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