Story Submitted by Anthony Mottarella

My name is Anthony Mottarella and I am an undergraduate student at the University of Central Florida. I was planning on staying in Orlando for the summer of 2020 until the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled all face-to-face courses at UCF. I instead came back to my hometown of Melbourne Florida, and lived with my mom and 11 year old brother, John. It was extremely nice to spend time with them because I am a very family oriented person and love both of them immensely. Even though I was staying in the same house as them, I sometimes felt that I did not see them enough due to my rigorous work schedule. Right when I came back to my hometown, I asked my former boss if I could have my job back, as a server at SquidLips Over water Grill in Melbourne. My boss immediately texted me back that he would love to have me come back and work full time as a cocktail server. My best friend Sam also works at SquidLips so it was extremely nice to work with him and see him on a daily basis. There were a lot of positive aspects about moving back but there was always the fear of getting COVID-19 because I am face to face with a large number of customers. Also, SquidLips is the second largest restaurant in Melbourne so the odds of COVID-19 spreading through the restaurant is likely. Being an essential worker during the pandemic has shown me lots of things. It has reassured me that I have an amazing family who have the funds to provide me an education and a roof over my head. It has also shown me that the majority of workers at squid lips serve as their main source of income, and by closing down the restaurant, they would not have money for rent and monthly payments. Many employees have also complained that they have not received their unemployment even though they applied in march. The media portrays a lot of fear from the elderly population but I have seen the stress that the pandemic has placed onto our blue collar workers. Luckily, every worker at SquidLips has been financially and emotionally helping each other out, and are moving through this pandemic as a work family.