*For our recently published special issue, “Food in the Time of COVID-19”, we received more submissions than we could accommodate in the print version of the issue, so the following article forms part of a series of submissions which will be published as Web Exclusives which speak to the theme of Gastronomica 20.3.
By Carina Mansey
March 21, 2020: Bedfordshire, England
It was a Saturday morning, and, as per the usual, I was on route to the pub. After a sobering walk through the sleepy English market town, I reached the pub and entered via the backdoor. “Hello, team!” I said, waving frantically. My greeting was reciprocated and I took a seat. While Paul was attempting to make me a cuppa, I considered the abnormality of the situation.1 The last time front and back of house congregated like this was for the Christmas party, which had, due to the nature of our work, taken place in February. However, today found us in a very different situation. When we were settled, our manager addressed us, and then we began the deep clean.
While polishing table 3, I looked up at my coworkers. “What is Roger going to do for breakfast?” I asked. Something akin to “He will have to learn to cook” was Paul’s response. “I feel sad for him,” I mumbled. Roger came here every morning, other than on Christmas Day—the only day, up until now, that we closed. While scrubbing the remnants of something that I hoped was ketchup off table 9, I noticed Roger staring through our glass doors. My heart sunk as he read the notices tacked to them. Roger would not find anywhere offering a cooked breakfast because the Prime Minister had closed pubs and restaurants yesterday evening. I then thought of all our regular customers. They were not just my livelihood, they were people, and people I was going to miss.