Read part 1: COVID-19: A timeline and thoughts part 1
Read part 2: COVID-19: A timeline and thoughts part 2
Well, in my last update dated April 4, 2020 we were about 3 weeks into this mess. We’re now just passing 10-weeks since my tour program at work got suspended. Various states and regions have started opening up and lifting their stay at home orders and restrictions, including North Carolina. We moved into a modified “Phase 2” which allows for some retail businesses and restaurants to open with limited capacity. Sierra Nevada is still at least a month away from reopening, and even then our tour program will continue to be suspended. I’ve heard we have a date being tossed around, but no one is willing to release it and our restaurant manager advised our EHS team that they’ll announce when they’re 4-weeks out. I think about the people who haven’t been onsite over the last 10+ weeks and the expectations when they come back to the brewery. Expectations from both sides: our teams who have continued working throughout all of this, and our teams who think they’re coming back to the same place they left on March 13.
So much has changed. Department isolation plans, physical distancing policies, mask protocol, hygiene implementation, breakroom standard operating procedures (SOPs), personal and communal workspace SOPs, employee movement forms. I’m sure I’m missing some things. Little changes over a long period of time that people are going to be reprogrammed into. I can’t decide if it’s better to have experienced these little changes over time, or to just have go through the shock of reorienting once we decide to bring people back.
There’s also the resentment. The animosity. Some of us have severe anxiety about going into work everyday. Some of us haven’t really understood our purpose. All, or almost all of us have done the math and realize the people who took a voluntary leave of absence for whatever reason are making more on this unemployment and CARES act than those of us who continued working. Those of us who continued working did so because it felt like the right thing to do. That principle is really what founded and sustained our company over the last 40-years. Profit isn’t 100% of the equation. There are people to take care of as well because that’s the right thing to do. On more than one occasion I’ve heard the family and owners talk about the weight of decisions they have to make and how sometimes the right thing to do doesn’t make the most financial sense. That’s why we’ve been able to keep working when most of the industry is severely challenged right now. That, and let’s face it – alcohol sales have been stellar throughout the pandemic. Even with the loss of revenue from bars, restaurants, hospitality, and the likes… We are still brewing plenty of beer, and you all are still drinking plenty of beer. But that’s also a good point – people will choose to support companies like this during times like this because they know it’s going to us and not just lining peoples’ pockets. And the generosity of the family and our leadership team during these last 10-weeks has been unfathomable. I think about the decisions and emotions I’ve been wretched with over the last 10-weeks and I’m only responsible for a team of 18 individuals. I can’t imagine being responsible and having my decisions impact the better part of 1,100.
Which I think is why it makes some of the decisions and actions of my team so challenging to reason with. To some, there were actual reasons why they would choose to take a voluntary leave of absence. For many many others, it was purely financial gain: they realized they can make more – at least through July 31 – by NOT working, than by contributing. That stings. There was never a consideration given to what the right thing to do would be… it was 100% selfish. Now I’m trying to reckon with the idea of bringing some of these people out of that leave of absence when we do require their help and how do I not hold bias or grudges against them when I’ve seen the struggle, blood, sweat, and many many tears of the teammates who chose to continue helping? I lose sleep over this concept, and when I’m struggling with my own tears, anxieties, and stresses – I think about how I’m going to handle people who I used to consider friends coming back onsite and me doing my best to not treat them like they got a paid vacation while we struggled. We have a really incredible EAP program through work and I’ve been meeting with a therapist ever 2 weeks for almost 2 months now. It’s another one of those benefits that doesn’t make money-sense, but it’s the right thing to do so the family just does it.
I’m also trying to figure out how to visit family. Landon, my 13-year-old son has been turned upside down by this and he’s been incredibly resilient. He’s dying to go spend a few weeks with my family in Minnesota and I’m struggling to try and figure out how to make that happen. I haven’t been back home since about this time last year. He hasn’t seen my dad and much of my family since this time last year. My dad and sister (along with her family) haven’t seen Clara, my 16-month old daughter, since this time last year and I’m craving home.
Cases overview of Minnesota, North Carolina, the USA, and Worldwide as of 5/25/2020 morning.
It’s so hard to figure out how to make the right decision. Sometimes I just want to say fuck it – let’s go… but then sometimes I think about the guilt of me potentially bringing this virus into my mom and dad’s home. Sometimes I look at the statistics and they’re terrifying. Sometimes I look at the statistics and it’s like – ummmm, guys – this is bullshit that we’re letting our lives be controlled by numbers on the internet.
The easiest thing to do is for me and Landon to roadtrip together. Which honestly sounds like a blast! But then I have guilt about my family not seeing Clara. So I have thought about two options there… bring her with now and deal with it, or roadtrip with Landon up front and bring her along when we go to retrieve him down the road. Then THAT decision is complicated because that will likely be right about the time we decide to reopen. What kind of leader leaves as we’re bringing a team back to the brewery? My boss said go for it… But there’s professional guilt that it doesn’t feel like the right thing to do.
Whatever the case for work, family, and anything in between… It’s been more clear lately that this low, sustained, roller coaster of anxiety has recently been catching up to me. I’ve had some serious mental health realizations over the last month especially and I need a break. The weekends just aren’t cutting it. This weekend we were gifted a 4-day weekend and that seems to be just about cutting the surface of the break I truly need.