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  • Alison Hall

EPISODE TEN: DARREN CARDOSA

Darron Cardosa, also known as "The Bitchy Waiter" is a New York City restaurant server, comedian, author and blogger. Darron has been working as a server for over 30 years. In that time, he started the well-known tell all blog, "The Bitchy Waiter" where he opines on the adventures of being a waiter and the various customers he meets. His blog became such a hit that it was turned into a book and one-man variety show. Darron shares what it was like to lose work during the pandemic, both his restaurant position and his theatre work, and then return to his restaurant position following strict safety guidelines. Darron is an advocate for servers everywhere and shares his thoughts on sick pay, dining out and tipping during the pandemic.


Follow Darron on Twitter and Instagram: @bitchywaiter


Transcript:


SUMMARY KEYWORDS

restaurant, servers, people, customers, waiter, restaurant industry, tables, feel, outdoor dining, book, indoor, work, tipping, darren, canceled, mask, bit, hear, week, patio


SPEAKERS

Darron Cardosa, Alison Hall


Alison Hall 00:10

You're listening to between headlines. I'm Alison Hall. On this week's episode of between headlines I speak with Darren Cardosa, also known as the bitchy waiter. Darren is a New York City restaurant waiter and has become famous for his witty talent like it is blog, which he turned into a book, which was then turned into a one man show. Darren has been working as a waiter for over 30 years and has become a voice of sorts for the serving industry. Last March, Darren was working in his queens restaurant when he started noticing fewer and fewer patrons amid news reports of the looming Coronavirus. Of course, we all know what happens next, Darren has been in and out of work for the better part of the last year. And he's far from alone. Restaurant and Bar workers make up 74% of the job losses since the pandemic started. Darren shares what it's really like to be on the front lines of bringing back some normalcy. Whether you've ventured out to a restaurant in the last year, be at a patio, even dined indoors, or just had takeout. We're all well aware of the pressures that restaurants and their staff are under during the pandemic. And I wanted to know what it's really like from a service perspective. Darren talks about the rollercoaster ride that is responding and adhering to the ever changing guidelines and advocates for why servers deserve sick pay. He also shares practical tips on how to best support restaurants and their staff right now, why he believes servers across the country should be near the top of the list for the vaccine distribution, and how being a server has inadvertently fulfilled his dreams. Darren is a joy to speak with and I learned a lot from him. Things that I'll be bringing into my own life supporting restaurants and their staff safely. Now onto my chat with Darren. Okay, so Darren, you have been a waiter for did I read 30 ish years?


Darron Cardosa 02:21

Probably about 30 ish years. Yeah, yeah, probably maybe 32 ish. Yeah, yeah.


Alison Hall 02:27

And then you're also a singer, actor, writer of a blog, you have your own book, you have a one man show. That is a lot. Tell me about this trajectory of your career?


Darron Cardosa 02:36

Well, I've always wanted to be an actor or performer. And when I first decided that's the path I wanted to pursue becoming a waiter sort of made sense, that was kind of the stereotypical job that got one got to pursue an acting career. So waiting tables has always been in my back pocket. And I've done it pretty consistently ever since. I don't even know maybe 1999, somewhere in there. And always auditioning, always writing, always doing other things. But waiting tables is pretty much been the one consistent thing in my whole career. And it's letting me take off what I need to, if I'm going to go do one of my live shows, or sometimes I get a lot of information that I can write into my blog, or a story that I'm going to write from part of my book, you know, I get that from the restaurant. So waiting tables is important to me for a lot of different reasons.


Alison Hall 03:32

So tell me about the Vinci waiter. It's it was born out of just an experience one night while serving


Darron Cardosa 03:38

Yeah, completely the truth. It was. It's 12 years ago, it was a little over 12 years ago, I was working at a restaurant on the Upper East Side. And I was just super frustrated with a particular customer. And I came home that night. And I just started a blog just completely for me, and for, you know my few friends who might want to read it. And I just kept doing it. And it just grew and grew and grew. And I never expected it to be anything other than just an outlet for me to be creative and to write. But over the years, it's become so important to me, that I just keep doing it. And now sometimes I feel like I'm the voice of servers and I have this sense of responsibility to keep going. So but it really did just start with me wanting to come home and complain about a really annoying woman who sat in my section.


Alison Hall 04:32

I saw that choosing the name bitchy waiter while it's great. You have had some trouble with the name over the years like God. Were just with it being a swear word. Tell me what though,


Darron Cardosa 04:42

you know, when I started that blog so many years ago, I didn't put a lot of thought into what I was doing it where it was going to go. So I just chose bitchy waiter just because I thought it would be funny. But over the years it has become a problem. But when I when I got my book published, I it's been four years now. I guess I had some real trouble getting some people to even listen to the pitch, you know, when I was submitting a proposal, and then I really wanted that book to be in urban outfitters, because I just felt like it's perfect for them. I go in there, I'd see all their books. And I couldn't understand why they weren't selling my book after it was published. And I finally heard that one of the reasons was because of the swear word in the title. And I'm thinking God, if I would have known I never would have chosen bitchy if I if I could have picked something like the disgruntled waiter. My book probably would have been in, you know, a lot more bookstores. But yeah,


Alison Hall 05:38

but bitchy waiter has a great rig to it. And it's obviously work. Do you have 100,000 followers, fans and supporters? Tell me about the various servers that you hear from where your blog or your Twitter account resonates with that?


Darron Cardosa 05:54

Well, what I'm hearing from a lot of servers right now is frustration with the uncertainty of what the future of their job is going to be, or even if they're going to have a job. And then there's this kind of, they're just torn because they want to go back to work. But yet, when they get to work, they're either not making enough money, or they don't feel safe doing it or they feel underappreciated by their customers. So they're wondering, why am I even here? This is my job, and I want to do it. But if I'm not making money, and people are treating me poorly, what why am I doing it? And so I'm hearing a lot of people who are thinking of finding other careers or have left the restaurant industry to do something entirely different just because they don't feel like there's a future for them in the restaurant world, which that's one of my upcoming stories is what is the future of the restaurants, you know, how our service going to survive this? I hear a lot of frustration from servers. And I try to respond to as many of them as I can, because I want them to know that I hear them and that they're not alone. Because everyone's sharing the same kind of feelings about working in a restaurant right now. And I think it's important that we all know that we're all going through it at the same time.


Alison Hall 07:08

Yeah, absolutely. Tell me about that. You were working at your restaurant in March, as we're all hearing news reports about COVID. I mean, what was that like? And how did things progress from there?


Darron Cardosa 07:20

Well, I remember in, you know, the shutdown happened here in New York City, I think like March 16, or 15th, somewhere around there. So the two weeks before, when I was still working at the restaurant, business had definitely dropped off, you could definitely feel that people were concerned about and at that point, there was an outdoor dining, it was still a little chilly, probably in March, once we shut down, you know, I just went to not working at the restaurant, I think the restaurant completely shut down. There were no options for outdoor dining or anything. So I was just not working for two or three months. And then when outdoor dining became an option, I went back to work two or three shifts a week, and we're serving outside and doing takeout. And, you know, their delivery app services like seamless and grubhub. That's what I spent time from May up until mid December doing. And then we went back to no outdoor dining, our restaurant doesn't have that option. Even though we have a patio, we don't have heaters, it's just not a viable choice. So I haven't been working since the middle of December now. Because it just wasn't worth it for me to be there to just bag up to go orders for no tips when I'm making a service wage. And my boss understands that and said like, it's just not worth it for you to be here. So I'm just like so many other servers just waiting for the next thing that we have to go do.


Alison Hall 08:50

And so all in one year, you go from working to not working to working in a limited way to indoor dining is open again. So this is working maybe a little bit more, but with many more restrictions. Yeah, to then not working again, like that is an emotional roller coaster. What was it like to actually go through that for you?


Darron Cardosa 09:12

It's been, it's hard because even though my particular restaurant does have a patio, my boss made the decision that it wasn't worth it to buy heaters or to try to build an outdoor area that was covered, because he had seen so many other restaurants do that, that it just didn't work for them. And it was just money being thrown away. So on one hand, I wanted him to do it. On the other hand, I was glad he wasn't doing it because I thought it would be a waste of time. And then after I'm not working again for the last four weeks, I'm like so many other people who don't have any thing in my week to anchor my week. You know, even though I was only working two days a week, a lot of times, I still felt like I had a work week. You know I would go to work on Wednesday and Thursday. And then I would my weekend was five days. Now that I don't have that, I sort of just drift through my days and not know which day it is because I don't have a day that I have to go do something. And I didn't realize how much I appreciated going to work two days a week, because it really did give me something to do every week to look forward to or to kind of have everything else work around those two days at work. And now I miss it.


Alison Hall 10:29

And I going back to work in the summertime. I mean, we are still in a position of fear and trying to take care of ourselves and others. But I think especially then, when your restaurant has been closed for several weeks or months, and you're going back, I mean, what was it like to go back to work after being home and staying safe, you know, staying home is the safest way. So now you're going out in a public environment where as a server you are encountering, hopefully, if the restaurant is busy, or as busy as it can be with a limited capacity, multiple people in one shift in these crazy times, encountering multiple different strangers is like a recipe for disaster. So what did it feel like to have to suit up and do that?


Darron Cardosa 11:15

I the first time I went and I was wearing the mask at work, I didn't know how I was even going to get through a five hour shift wearing a mask and outside in the heat. And then you you get used to it pretty quickly. And you're serving customers outside. So so you feel a little bit of a sense of protection because there's wind and there's air around you circulating. But you still can't help or I'll say I I still couldn't help feel a little bit resentful to my customers, even though I'm unfortunate my Oh God, I've had that on for like 20 minutes, I could hardly breathe. And I'm standing there with my glasses fogged up trying to breathe through my mask. Customers are great. And they're regulars. I know them well. But I still would resent them a tiny bit because they would sit down and take off their mask and say 85 or 90 degree weather. And I feel like they're not even seeing what I'm doing for them. And it's it's hard to not get a little angry at that anger is too strong of a word but resentful, a little bit


Alison Hall 12:20

resentful. totally makes sense. I mean, here we are. People are craving a sense of normalcy. So going to a restaurant sitting outside ordering a drink socializing is so important to them. But yet them doing that is automatically putting somebody at risk. And it's the restaurant staff. Did you have any experiences where you've either felt unsafe or really unappreciated? Like what was that like?


Darron Cardosa 12:45

For me, I think I was more fortunate than a lot of other servers because of how long I've worked at my restaurant. And how many of my customers know me personally. So I didn't ever feel unsafe until indoor dining started. And then I would be serving a four top and none of them had masks on. And they were talking and laughing. And I'm reaching into their table to clear a dirty plate. And I'm literally just, you know, eight or 12 inches away from their breathing space. That's the only time that I started to feel a little bit worried that maybe this isn't the best option for me to be working. On the other hand, if you have work offered to you, you have to take it or else you can have your unemployment denied. So you a lot of servers felt like they're in between a rock and a hard place because you want to be safe, but you can't stay home unless you're collecting unemployment. So I would say most of the time when I was outside I felt okay about it. Inside was a different story for me.


Alison Hall 13:51

Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, unfortunately, as we know, just the science is that it's much more transmissible in Zeid, did you ever have people when you would come over to the table, put on masks? I know like when I've gone to restaurants, that's something I try to do. But at the same time, when there's great service, somebody is coming to the table, often. There's been times where I'm like reaching for my master try to get it on and they're already there. Like, is that something that you appreciate?


Darron Cardosa 14:19

Yeah, I did appreciate it. And when I saw that it was a customer who was going to do that to attempt to pull their mask up every time I would approach the table, then I would try to recognize that they were doing it and then not approach the table until they actually called me over or stay far enough away where I could make eye contact with them to see if they needed anything. Because I didn't want to pop up at their table every three minutes and ask them how is everything and they had to pull their mask up really quick. So I appreciated it when people do that for me. And I hope that they understood what I was doing by trying to stay away from their table a little bit more so that they wouldn't have to constantly interrupt their meal by pulling their mask back up. But I do like it when customers do that. At least A couple of times because it lets me know that at least they're thinking about me. And some would come in to, and just never even consider putting their masculine like, as soon as they sit down, they just whip it off. And it's out of sight out of mind until, you know, they pay. They're checking around the restaurant.


Alison Hall 15:19

Yeah, speaking of paying a check, tips have been top of mind for so many people. And I imagine, especially for servers who have been out of work on and off. What is your take on tipping right now? Or when servers are more able to work? Should you be tipping way more than normal? Like, what should people be doing?


Darron Cardosa 15:40

Well, I, I feel like the one thing that a lot of people aren't taking in to consideration is tipping on to go orders, which a lot of people don't tip on to go orders. And, and I understand why they don't do that. On the other hand, I feel like when you're ordering to go, you should still tip like, I'm not asking for 20%. But I still think you should throw in like 10%, or a few bucks, because somebody is still putting that order together. And in my experience, people have been tipping very, very well. When I was at the restaurant, again, these are people I've waited on for 10 years, other people maybe weren't having that experience. I think when people go back into indoor dining here in New York, I would hope that they would up the ante on their tips a little bit because I feel like if, if you're in a position to be able to afford to be able to afford to go out to eat, then you should be able to afford a few extra dollars for your server who has potentially been out of work for the last six months. And I would hope that people would take that into mind. But you know, you can't ever be certain that they will, it would be nice to know that they were thinking of us.


Alison Hall 16:48

Yeah, having worked in the indoor dining space before it closed down in New York. If and when it does reopen, I shouldn't say if because of course, one day it will hopefully, day whenever that is, will you go back to it?


Darron Cardosa 17:05

I probably will. Just because I have a really sweet deal at my restaurant, you know, it's two blocks away from my apartment. It's a it's a very casual place for me to work it it I only work there part time. So it gives me plenty of time to do the other things in my life that I pursue. And I also have a sense of responsibility to the owner of the restaurant, you know, I've worked for him for 10 years, and I don't want his business to fail. And if I can go back in and help him to kind of rebuild the business once indoor dining is in. I want to be able to do that for him, because he's done a lot for me over the 10 years, last 10 years, and especially over the last nine months. So I would go back. Once I have my vaccine, and everybody else is having their vaccine. I would not mind going back. No, I would look forward to it. I miss it. And it's surprising to me how much I miss it. Because for somebody who writes a blog called the bitchy waiter and has made a career out of complaining about customers, I always need to let my customers know that. You know, that's a character. And I'm just speaking as a as what servers wish they could say. But the truth is, when I'm not waiting tables, I miss it. And when I was going back to work those two days a week, I could be depressed for four days. And then when I would get back to work, and just kind of fall into taking orders and writing thank you for supporting the restaurant on the to go boxes, I found myself being lifted out of that depression, and forgetting the reality of the world for a few hours a day. So that was not something I expected. And it's it's it was kind of a nice surprise. For me. I


Alison Hall 18:41

feel like so many people are realizing what they are grateful for at this time. And it's can definitely be surprising things that you're grateful for. I also saw you write that I mean, servers are just feeling really underappreciated right now, people are so focused on COVID. And on just all the different aspects of it and then returning to normalcy. When can I go and have my beer with my friends? What do you want people to know about servers in this time?


Darron Cardosa 19:10

Well, I want them. I want people to know that servers want to go back to work, but they want to, they want to feel safe when they do it. And they want to work in a restaurant where not only their customers are appreciating what they're doing but but the owners of the restaurant are and the managers and I've so many times I've gotten messages from people who tell me, they found out someone that they work with was had tested positive for COVID. And their boss told them you know what, just don't tell anybody and let's just work a couple more shifts. Like over and over again. People were telling me that and that just blows me away that that restaurants would think that that would be okay to possibly jeopardize not only customers but themselves. You know, and that was surprising how common that was. So I want servers to be able to go back to a restaurant that really appreciates how hard it is to be a server, especially during these times. And I wish after this is over that maybe sick pay in a restaurant industry is actually a thing. It's not right now for most servers. And that would be a great thing to come out of this recognizing that, oh, if you're serving people, and you're sick, yeah, maybe you should take the day off. And maybe you should get paid something for that day off. Because you know, you're not going to be making tips. But you're also not going to be infecting people while you're here. And a lot of servers over the years, and I've done it myself go to work when you're sick, because you can't afford not to. But with COVID that's not really an option. Except if you know, if you have a really shady restaurant owner who says I just don't tell anybody, you'll be okay. Just wear your mask. That's upsetting. So I hope, I hope servers can find all servers can find some respect that's well deserved from their owners in the restaurants. Yeah,


Alison Hall 21:15

well, that must have that added or must add another level of anxiety. You're nervous about getting COVID in this year. Because it's COVID. And you've heard the horror stories about it. But then also knowing that if you have to take time off, there goes your paycheck for those two, three, however long, however many weeks,


Darron Cardosa 21:35

right, it's it's a real struggle for servers, I mean, up for a lot of people, anybody who doesn't have sick pay. But you know, since I'm a server, I'm going to talk about the server's plight. And that would be a step that's a struggle to have to make that decision. Am I too sick to go into work? And if I am, Will I still be able to make up the $150? I would have made tonight by not going where am I going to make that up? And usually they're just going to maybe pick up an extra shift or two or three extra shifts the next week, you know, work themselves to the bone to make up for the three days that they were laying in bed sick.


Alison Hall 22:10

What do you think about the vaccine? Do you think that servers should be first in line or, you know, high on the list to get the vaccine for this reason?


Darron Cardosa 22:18

I do. And and I also think retail workers and grocery store workers should also be I mean, I think grocery store workers should be above servers, because grocery store workers have not stopped working this whole time. But I do think restaurant workers should be kind of moved to the top of the list. Because I feel like during this whole pandemic, the general public has demanded or wanted restaurants to stay open, do they want their freedom to go out and eat and they want this and they want that they want to go out and have cocktails, yet, so many of those same people are going to restaurants, and then not respecting the guidelines that the restaurant is offered or not wearing their masks. And they're just putting the servers at risk. So I feel like, like if you want us to be open so that you can have your sense of normalcy, then let us get the vaccine so we can give you that sense of normalcy. I don't think it's fair that people who have been working throughout this and not working from home, or having to wait too much longer for the vaccine. I definitely think servers should be up on that list a little higher than they are now


Alison Hall 23:28

he referred to the fact that you have worked at your restaurant for 10 years, you have a great relationship with your boss. I mean, what was it like to just watch the struggle? All restaurants are really struggling right now. For somebody who's worked at the same place and has this strong relationship with their restaurant? I mean, what was what is it like to see just how much restaurants are struggling, particularly yours?


Darron Cardosa 23:54

I feel sorry for him, because I know how hard he works. And when he was looking at buying space heaters for outside these propane heaters he did the research to see how much they cost. They were super expensive. You know, at one point they were really hard to find there. If you get propane tanks. They're very difficult to store legally. I know a lot of restaurants aren't storing them legally, but to do it the right way. There's a lot of guidelines and he was struggling to figure out like, Am I going to spend my money on this? You know, am I going to spend my money on a tarp instead just to keep the tables covered if it should rain, and he's the only one up there, he owns the restaurant. He cooks all the food he does all the ordering. So when we're working when I'm working, that restaurant is just run by him and me on Wednesday and Thursday and him and Jonathan on the other three days. So literally three people are keeping that restaurant open. And Tim is doing the majority of the work and I feel bad for him because it's through no fault of his own, but he's watching his business just get trampled. While other industries seem to be getting a little bit more attention, I mean, people, a lot of people are talking about the restaurant industry. But I don't feel like a lot of people are, like doing a lot about the restaurant industry. And I saw someone writing about an airplane that they were flying. And the plane was packed with people, you know, all three rows, there were no spaces in between, it was just packed with people. And they said, Wait, why is this allowed, but restaurants can be open for indoor dining at all. And it struck a chord with me that these people are sitting in an airplane for five or six hours, literally inches away from each other. And that's okay. But we can't even have our restaurant open at 25% capacity. While we're all wearing masks. It's just a disconnect. You know, I don't feel like the government is like, hey, restaurant industry, let us do something specifically for you. We build out this industry and this industry, but we're gonna do it for the restaurant industry now to just doesn't seem to happen. And it makes me sad that my owner, my boss, and other restaurant owners, I know seem to be just slipping through the cracks.


Alison Hall 26:13

Where do you think the restaurant industry goes from here?


Darron Cardosa 26:18

I think eventually, it will. it'll, it'll, it'll come back. But I'm actually working on a story right now myself about things that will not ever be the same. And, you know, we know that in our daily lives, like, I know that I've, I will always be more conscious of washing my hands, when I come back in from my apartment, into my apartment. Just like simple things like that, in my everyday life, I know, in the restaurant industry, I probably will always be a little bit more thoughtful about how close I am to a customer when I'm reaching down to conserve their food, even after the vaccines have been distributed. And and everybody this is in the past, hopefully, I know that we're going to still think about that things like getting to go orders, you know, or when somebody wants their food to go, it was always my inclination to wrap it up for them. I don't think that will ever be the case anymore. I feel like cuz customers are going to want to do that themselves. Little things like that, that are major changes, just subtle ones. But I think something as simple as just customers no longer having their server wrap up their leftover steak is a minor thing. But I think that's going to be a part of the future of the restaurant, little subtle changes.


Alison Hall 27:37

Do you think that there will be any changes with the attitudes of customers? Do you think that this has made people realize maybe what they value in going to restaurants, and maybe they'll be more friendly, or more gracious or grateful? I mean, maybe that's wishful thinking. But do you think that there's anything there?


Darron Cardosa 27:57

I, I don't think it will last, I think when when they restaurants reopen for indoor dining, I think cus customer is going to be so excited and so grateful and tipping and drinking and happy. But I know that that will wear off in just a couple of months. And servers will just go right back to being servers and not somebody that customers are so excited to see again, and well. We've missed you. It's just going to fade away. And, and I kind of equate it. I mean, it's it's not that different. But you know, I was here, I lived here in New York City during 911. And, you know, those couple of weeks after 911, there was this real sense of togetherness, and you could walk down the street and you would make eye contact with each other. And you knew that what they were thinking and you felt connected. And for just a few weeks in New York City, it was really serene and sad, but connected. You know, that didn't last forever, it faded away. And I think the same things gonna happen to the happy customers who are grateful for their restaurants to be open. That'll fade away and they won't think about it anymore. Sounds pessimistic. But I've been waiting tables long enough to know, I feel like it's true. sounds horrible.


Alison Hall 29:22

No, I mean, it's realistic and you're the expert. If somebody wanted to support Restaurant Servers right now, what is the best way for them to do that?


Darron Cardosa 29:32

One thing that I think a lot of people don't realize is that if you are doing takeout, a great way to support the restaurant is to call the restaurant directly and go pick up the food yourself. Or if the restaurant has a delivery team that they are going to do it, let them do it. Instead of going through like seamless or grubhub. No offense to those delivery drivers. I'm there trying to make a living too. But those Services sometimes take up to 25 or 30% of the check. So if you really want to support your restaurant in your neighborhood, call the restaurant or on the phone, go pick it up yourself. So all the money spent at that restaurant will go to the restaurants that have 70% of it going to them and 30% going to an app. And even at my restaurant, sometimes I get a grubhub order, and I put it in, and they're going to pick it up. And so I know they live a block away. And I just want to tell them, why don't you just call me I'm right here by the phone, like you just gave 30% to somebody that we don't even know. I mean, yes, we're happy to take the 70% better than no percent. But if you want to support a restaurant, call them order indirectly and go pick it up.


Alison Hall 30:46

You have a one man show, just give us a teaser of your one man show. What is it?


Darron Cardosa 30:51

What is it called? Well, it's called, it's called the bitchy waiter show because I was super, you know, put a lot of time and effort into that title. It really is just, it's it's music, a lot of songs and stories from my blog or my book that I intertwined with songs. So I would take a song from a Broadway show, and the either just perfectly explained what I was describing in my story, or I would write my own lyrics. So I could make it very specific. But in the end, the show is about the positivity of being a server and how just what I said, it's okay to be one, and that you should take pride in what you're doing. So essentially, the show is about me, and, and my life. But by the end of the show, it becomes about everyone who's watching it, because it's not just for servers, it's about anyone who has a dream in their life, and the things that they do to achieve it. And my dream has always been to be on Broadway or to be, you know, a successful actor or singer. And for me, those 15 minutes that I'm on stage during my live show, I feel like I achieved that. And the only way I achieved it is by being a waiter. So it kind of just worked out that I'm going to write a show about the empowerment of serving and waiting tables and how it can lead to your dreams coming true. It sounds kind of cheesy, but it's not as cheesy. And he's just made it sound I promise.


Alison Hall 32:28

I love it. I think it sounds amazing. I'm really excited when we're allowed to gather again and go to theater, and I will be in the way.


Darron Cardosa 32:36

So ready. So ready.


Alison Hall 32:38

Did you have shows booked for this year that were canceled? Tell me about that?


Darron Cardosa 32:43

I did. Yeah, I had, I think I had three one was in Massachusetts in I don't even remember because it kept getting pushed back. You know, in March. It's like, oh, we're gonna push it back to June. Or we're gonna push it back to August now then eventually just got canceled. I think I had one scheduled in February, like next month, but February 2021. In Florida, which I was totally looking forward to. And that got canceled. And just last week, there was you know, the convention that you go and present your your 15 minutes of your show to all of these Booker's from around the country. It's all online. Now, this year, I opted out of it. Because I didn't want to spend that money to possibly book shows that are just going to get canceled. It just didn't seem worth it. But yeah, that was a tough one. Because that kind of doing those shows, takes me back to why I first started waiting tables in the first place, which was to be a performer, an actor and a singer. So to be able to do this, my live show that I wrote, that's just me singing about the restaurant industry. It was like, my worlds colliding, and it was perfect. And so to have those taken away was was really disappointing, because it's it's something that I really love doing. But I believe that in the future, I'll get to book my show again. But it was sad to get those official emails from the producers like, oh, we're just gonna have to cancel. Oh, come on. I get it but sad.


Alison Hall 34:18

Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, you work in two industries, both like live theater and restaurants. That is where people get their joy, that is their entertainment and their happiness and their socialization. And for you, that's where you are in your element.


Darron Cardosa 34:37

I know. It's like, yeah, I mean, the saying like, oh, we're gonna have dinner and a show. No, and no, that's not happening. Either one of those, those industries are dead right now. So it's, that's it's a hard one to take. And, you know, my husband works on Broadway backstage like he is he's been on Broadway for 28 years. And I don't know when Broadway is coming back. Nobody does. So You know, he makes his living in the theater. And so we're just sitting in our apartment like home, women's dinner and a show a thing again, because when it is, then we can go back to work. But we're just waiting like everybody else.


Alison Hall 35:15

Yeah, what do you do to pass the time and to make sure that your mental health is okay.


Darron Cardosa 35:20

Well, I feel lucky that I have, I have a blog, I have my Instagram and Twitter and all this stuff. And so some days, I'll just get a creative hair and want to put a video out or I'll write a blog piece or I have a, you know, an article to write for another website. So I have that. But I also we, we've done a lot of puzzles. There's 1000 piece puzzle on our dining room table right now. We've watched a lot of television. And we baked a lot, you know, like just what everybody else is doing. Anything you can find it take to take your mind off the craziness. And to pull yourself away from a screen for 20 or 30 minutes, we realized that we have three screens, sizes, you know, small, medium, and large. It's either my phone and iPad, or our television. And we just said last night, we need to cut down our screen time and figure out something else to do. So we're we're focusing on that puzzle right now.


Alison Hall 36:27

Yeah, for sure. I know. It's like watching TV for 10 months. I just I can't do it anymore. I need something else.


Darron Cardosa 36:35

I mean, I love me some TV I always have. But yeah, I need a little bit of a break from it. And now that it's cold outside, you know, you can't go as easily go for a run, or go outside just for a walk or something. So it's it has been a real struggle. But everybody's in that same struggle. So it's hard to feel alone. Even though we are all alone, you know, weird way. We're all together. It's so crazy.


Alison Hall 37:00

It's it's completely crazy, circling back a little bit on the restaurant regulations and just monitoring them. Of course, the regulations have been different from various areas in New York City to across the country. They've been completely different. I'm sure you hear that from your servers in your community all the time. Maybe they've been doing indoor dining since April, or maybe they never even close down. I mean, what was it like for you to just continually watch the changing regulations, okay, outdoor dining 25% capacity, okay, now it can be 50 or all tables on the patio can be filled, too. Now, there's a torrential downpour, the restaurants closed tonight. That means that you're not making any money that night, like just describe that roller coaster of always paying attention to the news, the evolving science and then the weather.


Darron Cardosa 37:54

Yeah, well, waiting tables is always a finicky job, you never know how much you're gonna make. So all of these extra things that are swirling around it make it even more complicated to know if you're even going to be making money that night. And the guidelines are so confusing, that you you know, I personally never had to go through them with a fine tooth comb, but I would watch my boss do it. And you know, something as simple as when they were making the outdoor dining, like all of these little patio areas are covered patios and sheds outside on the sidewalks, then suddenly, it's like, oh, they have like three walls. Oh, and now they put a plastic shield across it. Isn't that just basically indoor dining that's out of the sidewalk. I don't know what that is. And then you find out, oh, wait, two of the walls have to be taken down. So we'll take down those. But then they'll just put up a bunch of boards or like Windows. So it's no longer a wall. It's just, it's crazy. Because these restaurants are trying so hard to do that, and are just making money or spending money to keep up. And my neighborhood. there's a there's a restaurant right down the street that had built this huge outdoor area really nice done a great job, I think it was all to code. And then there was some gas line work that had to happen. So all of that had to just be ripped out. And that street was ripped up for three or four weeks. So all of that work they had put in, just got trashed. And that's just money down the drain for them. And it is a roller coaster because you never know what the next guideline is going to be. And if you're going to be able to adhere to it or not, or if it's even something that you want to try to adhere to because is it going to be worth it. It's I'm lucky that I'm just a server. I would hate to be a restaurant owner where they they are the ones who have to make all of these decisions and I just from talking to them. I know how stressful it has been for them.


Alison Hall 39:52

You say just a server but I know you're also an advocate for being a server is a real job and You've had to stick up for yourself various times that this is a career and people do this for a living. Have you noticed that that sentiment has changed or been more recognized this year or less recognized? Do you still feel that way?


Darron Cardosa 40:14

I still feel that way. I've always said that no matter what you do for a living, if you enjoy doing it, and you're, it's legal and you're making money to pay your bills, then there should not be any issue with that. And there are a lot of servers who have you know, college degrees, you know, I'm one of them. And there are people who have degrees who choose to work in a restaurant, maybe it's part time, or there are people who want to work in a restaurant because the hours were more flexible, and let them have time to go to work. And then be oftentimes to be home when their kids get home from school. These are great reasons to be a server. And anyone who ever says that serving isn't a real job. Yeah, I'm, I'm quick to cut them down in the most bitchy waiter of ways because I want people to know that there's no reason to be ashamed of being a server. And I'm 53 years old, and I wait tables part time, but I'm not embarrassed by it. And there was a time when I was 25. And I was because at then I felt like I should be doing more with my life. But you know, when you're 53 and you realize, Oh, my life is pretty full. And a lot of it is because I've been waiting tables. Yeah, that's completely okay. So I will always stand up for anybody who says that waiting tables is a real job because I it is I believe it. And I want others to know that too.


Alison Hall 41:41

Well, this was great. Darren, thank you so much for doing this for speaking with me. This was really fun. Awesome.