The 5 o’clock hour struck, and it was time for the highlight of my day. Heck, my week. For the first time in days, I would strap on my latex gloves, hop in the car, and head to my favorite local pizza joint to pick up dinner. Time for Papa’s Pizza! Your turn now, takeout or delivery?
Since early March, I’ve been among the millions of Americans paralyzed by fear of the Coronavirus. Fear of leaving the house. Fear of watching the news. Fear of contracting this godforsaken virus that’s devasted so many people, both directly and indirectly.
But on this day, I was feeling particularly motivated — not just by an empty stomach, but also by a sense of responsibility. COVID-19 has shattered many sectors of the economy, but none more so than the hospitality industry.
As articulated bluntly in this article, local restaurateurs and support staff are hurting. The burden falls on all of us to prop them up at this crucial time, or risk seeing them shutter for good. As posed by the 48 restaurant owners that co-signed this article:
Can you imagine a landscape of empty buildings dotted with an occasional fast-food chain or big-box concept? Would you want to?”
No. No, I wouldn’t.
The article was a call to action. I made the decision at that moment to put my fears aside and order takeout that night, and to continue supporting local restaurants for as long as this pandemic persists.
I pulled into the parking lot of Papa’s Pizza in Berkley, MI, grabbed my pie and walked out. It was as simple as that. Not sure what I was expecting, but the fearmongering that’s been going on for weeks (much of it completely justifiable) had definitely caused my perception of reality to become disjointed.
When I returned home, my wife insisted I take precautions in case the virus was lingering on the box or the pizza itself. I obliged, even though there’s currently no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food.
First, I washed my hands for 20 seconds. Then I transferred the pizza from the boxes to a pan, which I placed in an oven preheated to 400 degrees to kill off any potential remnants of the virus. I tossed the box into the recycling bin, washed my hands again and removed the pizza from the oven. It was finally time to eat.
The experience wasn’t the most conventional. But it was easy enough.
Oh, and the pizza was spectacular. Pepperoni and onions with garlic parmesan crust — good luck finding a better combination than that.
Taking it personally
I’m blessed that as of this moment, none of my family or friends have contracted COVID-19. But that’s not to say I’m not close with people who’ve been impacted.
Both parents and my brother work in hospitality. While my brother’s salaried position has rendered him safe from layoffs, for now, both of my parents are struggling. My dad manages a charity bingo parlor in Michigan and the vast majority of his income is derived from kitchen sales. My mom supports the business as a server there.
When coronavirus forced my dad to close Bingo indefinitely, their primary source of income went up in flames. While my parents have been through worse, their anxiety is noticeable. Questions about how long they can afford to pay their bills while the business remains closed are real, and deeply troubling.
If you think not having Opening Day or March Madness is rough, put yourself in the shoes of hospitality workers who don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from.
We’re in this together
So, does ordering takeout during a pandemic make you a hero? Not quite. But it can make a big difference for individuals who desperately need your support. If you can swing it, make it a priority to carry out from local eateries at least a few times a week. It’s a win-win-win situation.
Win #1: It gives you an excuse to leave the house. As someone who’s hunkered down in his basement 9 hours a day, I can tell you firsthand that getting behind the wheel and seeing the sun is a huge morale boost.
Win #2: You’re supporting local business owners who, for now, need all the help they can get.
Win #3: You get to enjoy a delicious meal that requires no preparation and little clean-up.
Times are tough right now, but we can make them a little more palatable by supporting our neighborhood restaurants. Let’s face it: we need them as much as they need us.
Alex Altman is a writer and content strategist based in Detroit, MI. He can be reached at email@example.com.