Highs and Lows
We have now been open for curbside pickup with parking lot reservations for a month and a half and the lessons that have been learned are many. It has been absolutely wonderful to talk to our customers again, to be able to feed them as safely as possible, to be part of the community again.
Our system is slightly complicated but I’ve had 80 year old folks figure it out. Having the reserved spots in our parking lot allows us to go out and talk to people that don’t have reservations. Every reservation includes the persons cellphone number and the car type and color so when someone pulls into a spot we immediately check our reservations and put them “in line” calling each car that arrives in order. If it is a vehicle we don’t have a reservation for someone goes out to explain the system and take their phone number so we can call them and take their order.
Reactions vary wildly, some folks get it immediately and happily give us their number. Some say that is too much and they don’t have time to wait around. During pre-COVID times those same people would have happily stood in a line. We have had people chastise us for not having a window where they can walk up and order. Hey folks that would require all of you to wear masks and far too many people think that is too much of an imposition and I’m not going to argue with people that don’t believe in science.
My happiest moments have been helping our elderly customers. Some don’t have cellphones so we take their orders in the parking lot. A few stick out particularly. A woman that told me in early March that her cancer was back and there was one last medication that might help. I worried about her for 3 months. I can’t tell you the joy I felt when she pulled into a spot and then told me the new med is working. We all cheered in the restaurant when I came back in and announced it.
Another huge win was getting my high school librarians phone number from her brother. She told me in early March that her doctor said go home and don’t leave for at least 3 months. I know that she lives on a very limited budget and have worried about her many times. Pre-COVID whenever she came in I would tell her it was National Librarians Day and her meal was on the house. When I called her to tell her we were open we both cried a little on the phone. She said that she would be brave and drive from Falmouth to get lunch even though Bruce was totally willing to deliver her food to her. She said she would go to sleep with a smile for the first time in months and was there promptly at noon the next day for her pork tacos, plus an extra deconstructed taco salad kit for later.
One of our favorite customers came back this week. She is a sweet elderly woman that loves sweet potato and spinach quesadillas. She used to come in at least 4 days a week. When she arrived on a very foggy night I was lucky enough to be in the parking lot. She didn’t park in a reserved spot because she was worried about taking a space. She has been sick for 6 weeks, not COVID, but a respiratory issue. She can’t find her cellphone and just seemed so lost. We take her order whenever she shows up and it is truly joyful to be able to feed her.
There have been low moments too. People angry that they can’t just call in and the phone is always busy. A man that yelled at one of our food runners “when is Erin going to let us back inside” as if I am dictating the safety precautions that we should all be taking. We have a 300 square foot front lobby, if we allowed customers back in it would only be 2 at a time.
We are able to serve people who do not have reservations from 12-6, but from 6-7 we don’t because we need to have the food available for people that have made reservations. On a Friday night at 6:30 we had an incident. One of my food runners explained to a customer that we couldn’t take their order. The woman said she’d driven 45 minutes for this and couldn’t believe our phone was constantly busy. When our kind 18 year old food runner apologized the woman revved her engine pulled out and screamed “Fuck you bitch”. The poor kiddo was shaken for hour.
My recommendation to all is to check Google, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to see what your favorite restaurants are doing during this time. Be kind, wear a mask and tip if you are able to.