From restaurant to office work –– one server’s change of direction
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Before the pandemic, Maria Barillas worked as a server and barista in Brooklyn, New York. After her restaurant shut down at the start of the pandemic, she collected unemployment for a few months before starting a new restaurant job in July 2020.
“It was actually a great restaurant,” Barillas said. “It was a very close group of people working together.”
The restaurant didn’t have indoor dining throughout the winter. She said employees were happy with that for safety reasons, but very few customers came to eat in-person because of the cold.
“We had heat lamps and a roof, but even for me serving, I still had to wear a coat,” Barillas said. She would regularly come in for a shift and, because customers were so scarce, her boss would send her home after just a few hours.
“Paycheck to paycheck was very unstable,” Barillas said. “I was so anxious. I didn’t know if I could keep the restaurant job.”
Barillas started looking for new jobs and now works a remote office job after around five years in service.
“I guess it’s lonely,” Barillas said. “I felt like I didn’t really have coworkers, even though they’re on Zoom. It’s hard to feel part of a team, I guess, when you’re at an office, but more so when it’s remote.”
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