DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA — Serve to live and live to serve, is how the cliche goes.  As restaurants across the country are reopening, they are adding new meaning to the phrase.


“I’m super happy to be working again,” 19-year-old busser Erick Romero told us while filling a spray bottle with sanitizer. “But I do wonder – am I qualified to do this given the current situation?”


A sophomore at the local community college, Erick has been in the restaurant industry for 2 years. He plans to be the first in his family to graduate college, and intends to stay in hospitality until graduation.


“It’s not like I need further training to better prepare myself.  It’s a simple task. This simple task just has huge stakes. If we’re not thorough enough, someone could die, right? Also, if I’m being honest, I am definitely the only busser at this restaurant that comes to work 100% sober. If I’m stressed about myself sanitizing tables thoroughly between guests, I am horrified at what happens when I’m not here.” 


We asked if guests have been conservative during their visits, respecting the situation.


“You should see these people. They sit down, take their masks off, laugh, and spray the table in contaminant. Then they leave me to fix it. I forced myself to look at it as the guest’s responsibility to assess the danger when they walk in the door.  I can only do so much, and it’s the only way I can mentally get through it. I’m just trying to pay my bills here.”


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