The calmness that has overcome the city is eerie. I have been through Hurricanes, the calmness that is currently happening is weird. It is a Friday before St. Patrick’s Day any normal year, there would be lines of people checking in, doing shots of liquor in the lobby, bag pipers letting us know the party has begun. I do want to state for the record if I don’t hear bagpipes this year, I am going to be mad! I miss that, I miss the crowds of people dressed in green, screaming and carrying on like foolish drunks. I never in a million years, thought this would happen. The busiest weekend of the year, cancelled. Followed by Tour of Homes and Gardens, Cirque Du Soleil, and the Savannah Music Festival. There have been several times, today where I needed to walk away from my emails and collect my thoughts. The whole situation is a horrific car crash that you can’t stop or look away from. We are in the midst of an invisible virus, that has caused havoc all over the whole world. People are not traveling, they mainly because they don’t want to be the one who brings it to their friends and family. I get it, I really do, however there is a whole sector of society that relies on people being extroverts. It relies on them to travel, to shop, to sleep, to eat out, to enjoy a show. This part of society that is crumbling before our very eyes, being on the inside it is scary as hell.
I remember after 9/11 and how everything in hospitality changed over night. I was in my twenties, had really no responsibilities, I had a cat and two ferrets. I had to pay my rent, gas, my phone bill and other utilities (my parents paid my insurance). I remember my hours being cut going from 40 hours to 30 hours over night. You wouldn’t think 10 hours is a lot to most people, for someone who is making $11 an hour, that is $100 a week you are losing. Trust me it is hard, I did it and it was just me. In 2008, I remember that as well it was slow and more gradual, everything eventually stopped. People left, positions didn’t get filled, eventually it led to hours being cut and eventually furloughs. The COVID-19 is a combination, how fast it happened and how far it has reached. With 9/11 it was shock and within 3 weeks we were encouraged to get back to a new normal. In 2008 it was gradual, everything eventually stopped. Right now, everything has stopped and is stopping for months, for someone in hospitality it is truly terrifying.
Everything is collapsing around us, there is no toilet paper, no hand sanitizer, and no soap. I personally am going for the alcohol and pudding, screw everything else. I guarantee you my bottle of wine will be far more valuable than the toilet paper after you have been home for three weeks with your kids who can’t do anything because everything is closed. I don’t have an answer on how to help, I wish I did. I am going to try to give my money to my favorite local restaurants, and shop local whenever possible. I know this will eventually self correct, I hope it doesn’t leave a path of destruction (businesses out of business) in its wake.