Op-Ed: Let's Celebrate All of the Workers This Week

Dave Query, laboring on Labor Day at Lola Coastal Mexican.
Dave Query, laboring on Labor Day at Lola Coastal Mexican. Westword
Labor Day. A tribute to the worker, a celebration of our industrious and intelligent workforce, and a traditional end-of-summer milestone. And what a summer it's been.

Every year seems to go by faster as we all get older, but this one will be of the warp-speed variety. Not because of long journeys or extended adventures or lazy days, but because we've all been working — working our asses off, I'd say, across the board, no matter what you do — to keep the lights on. I continue to run into friends and hear stories locally and across the U.S. of folks just crushing it through this pandemic. That is really awesome!! All of us getting clobbered need to hear stories of the many who aren't, which gives us hope that the entire economy isn't going into the shitter.

I personally can't speak to any other industry other than the one I'm immersed in: hospitality. There are a lot of hard stories coming out in this industry, and more on the way. For restaurants, bars, hotels and tourist destinations and every business on the periphery of those, there is a long — and, in some cases, cold — winter ahead. Losing patio seats, losing sunlight, a possible resurgence of COVID in certain areas — all things to keep a fella up at night.

But I also don't know of a single restaurant owner or operator that I'm talking to (and that list is long) who isn't tackling some level of learning and changing and positivity toward the future. This is what we do, and if we wanna continue doing it, we gotta learn some new dance moves and put on some new shoes. Lots and lots of opportunities; just need to figure out what those are and how to add them to what we already know and do. We ain't the first American workers and business owners to go through incredibly challenging times, and we most certainly won't be the last. So here we are and here we go: Time to get to work.

In the meantime, a big shout-out and deep and proper curtsy to all the retail and hospitality and front-line workers in America this week. For those of you who complain about having to wear a mask for thirty minutes to go into a store, restaurant, grocery or business, imagine being on the other end and having that mask on for eight or ten hours a day, five to six days a week. Running around trying to be highly proficient and world-famous at the job you love, wearing a mask and going through sometimes fifty pairs of gloves a day. It's crazy-making.

So please, all of us, let's go out of our way this week to thank a retail or hospitality or front-line worker, and show some empathy for what they're dealing with and maybe think about stashing that criticism or snarky comment for a different time. Wrong is wrong — so if something ain't right, let ’em hear about it. But if it isn't actually wrong, it's just not how you like it, maybe give that a rest for a season. Everyone is working hard. Everyone is working at their limits. Let's celebrate the American worker this week and give them/us/we/all a high-five and an atta boy/girl for showing up during these completely insane times. No one is working this hard to try to disappoint anybody, and everybody deserves a thanks at the end of summer...this one in particular.

Happy Labor Day, everyone! Be safe, drink — don't drive. Take care of yourselves and everyone else you can help along the way. Big love.

Dave Query, founder of the Big Red F Restaurant Group (which includes Lola Coastal Mexican, the Jax Fish House family, the Post group, Zolo, West End Tavern and Centro), wrote this essay for Big Red F's newsletter; we asked if we could share it on Labor Day. He's also just started The F Club podcast; listen to the first edition here.

Westword occasionally publishes essays about issues of interest to the Denver community. Have one you'd like to submit? Send it to [email protected], where you can also comment on this piece.
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