The missing piece of “non-essential”

By. Jessica Abrego

During this crazy and unpredictable time people have been laid off of work, called into work extra hours because they are essential, and some high school and college students are at home wondering when anything they had been used to will return to “normal.”

Thankfully, there are medical staff, farmers, truck drivers, emergency service workers, and teachers who have been working long hard hours to keep this world turning while it is standing almost silently still.

I have been at home working on my college classes wondering when I will get that phone call that the bars have reopened and I can go back to work. Since I have been 21 I have worked in a bar in a very small farming community. I absolutely love bartending! I get to work in a fun atmosphere and listen to the jukebox from 5p.m. until 1:30 a.m.. I love working the bar crowd.

When I sat and watched the daily briefing on March 15, 2020 mandating all bars to close my heart sank. I immediately worried about income and how long we would be shutdown. I then sat and was flooded by memories of all my regular customers I got to see, all the fun memories, and saw the faces of people who I would not get to see until we could reopen. With tear filled eyes I started thinking of all people I was essential to. Even though I am not “essential” during a pandemic.

To the old man who sits in the far left bar stool, I am essential. His only time he gets out of the house to socialize is his hour trip to the bar. He never fails to get filled in on what is new with me and share a bit of his wisdom with me.

To the newly divorced mom who feels guilty for going out on a weekend when she doesn’t have the kids, I am essential. Sometimes I turn into a therapist while working. More than once I have had to reassure them it is okay to get out of the house and have fun.

To the all-nighter who doesn’t leave until last call, I am essential. For years he would spend all his days at home with his wife, but now his home only reminds him of his deceased wife. The bar is the place that from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. where there is a constant flow of people for him to talk to.

To the elderly woman who eats every meal at the bar, I am essential. She has no family in town to spend time with and has no pets so she visits the bartenders everyday. We are the faces she sees everyday and keep her company.

To the couple on a blind date, I am even essential. More than one time I have helped someone escape from an awkward first date. Yes, I have snuck people out the back door and also distracted the other person while the other made a run for it.

Thank you to all those who are working the frontline to hopefully bring our world back to normal one day. To everyone else who has been laid off because they are not essential, know you are essential to someone. One day you will get to go back to work and being essential again.

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