Essential Workers Start To Lose Respect

Customers are no longer grateful.

Sophia LaBriola

A few months after the pandemic started to become more normalized in our lives, the term essential workers started to fade away. Not only because so much was going on this year, but because people started to care less. There was an obvious shift in people’s behavior towards essential workers because they started to lose their patience and kindness. I had this conversation with a barista named James from a coffee shop in my neighborhood, and he had noticed the same shift in behavior in the food and beverage industry. We connected over being essential workers and started to share our stories during the time. We talked about the term essential and how appreciated we felt in the beginning and how now it is different. When the pandemic first started, some businesses were offering essential workers free coffee drinks every morning. Workers started showing up every morning for a regular cup of Joe to start their day in the front lines. After a few months of the same offer, James said they started to come in large groups and demand their free coffee with extra syrups and shots of espresso. Of course, he made the drinks with no complaints and handed them off to the workers, but deep down felt like people were starting to lose their appreciation for just a simple cup of coffee in the morning. I could understand where James was coming from because the customers at Cafe Jordano, where I work, started to demand more than what they were offered. It’s upsetting when you go out and risk your life for customers and they treat you poorly because of their bad mood or expectations.

“It’s upsetting when you go out and risk your life for customers and they treat you poorly because of their bad mood or expectations.”

Since Cafe Jordano is very small, we only have one phone line answering all of our take out orders. This made it hard to work fast because dealing with customers that cannot make up their mind really slows the process down. All of these small factors are ones that customers just coming in to pick up their food, don’t see. They lose their patience with the workers when we we are only trying our best to give the best customer service to everyone. I cannot speak for every customer, because the majority of them showed so much support during hard times. Since others were not as grateful, it made serving the community a hassle instead of a pleasure. I do not think customers understand behind the scenes of coffee shops and restaurants before the pandemic and certainly now. We depended on their tips to make a livable wage. We depended on their business to keep us afloat. It is our job as essential workers to maintain a smile under our masks and keep doing our job no matter how we are treated. Essential workers are all under pressure from our community to maintain quality service and friendly faces, but it can be hard when customers do not understand what we’re going through to get their order ready. So please, be kind to essential workers during this hard time!

about the author

Sophia LaBriola / 22


Hello! I am a student at MSU Denver studying Communication Design. I am a first generation college student and Colorado native. I am thankful for the opportunity to experience higher education because it has changed my life so much. Outside of school, I enjoy taking long walks, traveling, photography, riding my bike and spending quality time with loved ones.