“I’m in the same situation as many others,” says Denver bartender Jon Mateer.
“I’ve been laid off for a mandatory eight weeks.” For Jon, he is coping with the crisis by taking it one day at a time. “I have found that sticking to a new schedule I’ve created has really helped out. My new daily routine has helped me deal with staying at home.”
Jon finds his daily schedule keeps him positive and will make it simpler when its time for him to return to work. “Each morning I have my cup of coffee and answer work emails, reach out to friends to make sure they’re doing okay, and get all of my “adulting” out of the way (laundry, dishes, check finances, etc.). Then I work out for an hour to stay healthy. There are hundreds of free online videos for 30, 45, or 60-minute workouts. If it’s cold, I stay inside to do these workouts, but as often as possible I go outside to get some fresh air and enjoy nature—especially since there aren’t many people out and about these days.”
Jon adds fun activities to his day along with work. “I play board games, video games, or read a book for fun. Then I settle in to do some work and bar related things until it’s time for dinner. I study flashcards of cocktails, read books pertaining to the industry, choose new ingredients to work with at home, or create recipes (both new and classics) that I haven’t had a chance to make before or that I’m curious about. Each evening I wind down by hanging out with my fiancé. We have dinner together, watch a movie, build puzzles, etc. It’s important to still keep your significant other a priority, but focusing on yourself as well.”
Jon’s advice to other bartenders is to accept that you will feel stress and anxiety right now, but to not be overcome with worry. “There are so many things that we’re unsure of right now, that without answers, you could drive yourself crazy worrying. So don’t! Do what you enjoy right now. Take that time to do what you love and what motivates you.”
Jon also urges bartenders to apply for everything that is available. “Set your entire ego aside and embrace humility,” he says. “If you see something that might be able to help your situation, fill out an application. What’s the worst that can happen? Right now we have all of the time in the world, so take the 15 minutes to fill out the form and see what happens. My second tip is to ask for help from your community. Everyone is going through the same thing right now. There is always someone who has an answer or has found a new path towards assistance that you may have missed. Never be afraid to ask for help.”
In order to make the relief application process less stressful, Jon will multitask. “I have been reading while on hold with companies via the phone,” he admits. “If you’re going to listen to on-hold elevator music for a few hours, you might as well be educating yourself in the process. If I’m filling out a form online, I grab myself a snack. At the end of the day, this all can benefit you in this current situation, so it’s best to just buckle down and fill out as many forms as you can.”
Jon finds it helpful to offer guidance to other bartenders during this time. “Helping other bartenders is important,” he says. “We’re all in this together! We have such an amazing community, not just here in Denver, but across the United States as well. Social media has allowed us to connect in ways that have never been possible before. I personally have been sharing each new resource I find online with not just my fellow co-workers, but also across my social media pages as well.”
“I have been sharing my experiences and difficulties with others to help them navigate similar situations,” Jon continues. “For example, I spent a day trying to refund flights from several airlines via the phone and the Internet and I was able to share my findings with my co-workers to help give them the best chance at getting a refund for missed travel. I’ve also started a book club with my co-workers to keep our brains as active as possible during this hard time.”
“I think staying positive is the most important thing, and I know that’s a loaded statement when things look incredibly grim right now,” says Jon. “When is the last time that we’ve had the chance to let our bodies fully recover? Think about all of the small cuts on our hands that we get citrus in during our shifts? The dry skin we have from washing our hands a million times a shift (please still wash your hands during this outbreak). The back pains, the neck pains, nights when we’ve slept only three or four hours. All of this adds up and takes a toll on our bodies. Take this time to let yourself heal. Go to bed without an alarm, stretch each morning, take a long hot shower, eat three meals a day (if possible, I know times are hard), connect with family and friends you haven’t gotten to talk to or see on a weekend in five years. Don’t miss any of these opportunities.”
“My best advice is to stop worrying so much. Take it all one day at a time. Enjoy being with the ones you love. Reconnect with not just those around us but also with ourselves.”
Here are some quick tips to stay organized and sane during the day at home:
- Make Your Bed: making your bed every morning gives you a positive start to your day. Admiral William H. McRaven gives one of the best motivational speeches on why this little task is so important. “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed,” says the Navy Seal.
- Have a Routine and Ritual: For instance, wake up early, meditate, make your bed, have coffee or tea, and shower and get dressed every day. Straighten up the house and do your “adulting” for an hour or so. Be sure to allow time for both work and fun: make phone calls, answer emails, work if possible, exercise, pick up a new hobby, complete unfinished tasks, prioritize sleep, etc.
- Continue to Work: Create new recipes, master recipes you haven’t had a chance to. Read up on the latest news and industry information. Take the time to learn a new skill or technique that will be useful when we get back behind the bar.
- Use Your Wait Time Wisely: If you are on hold during a phone call, use the time to unload the dishwasher or wipe down surfaces in your home. Use your wait time wisely.
- Clean Out the Clutter: Even a little bit of clutter is thought to be anxiety-provoking and makes a room feel messy. Search for online tips and tricks to help get rid of useless “stuff” and become more organized.
Meet Chilled 100 Member Jon Mateer
Death & Co. Denver
Jon has been bartending for more than a decade and has recently made Denver, Colorado his home. Jon believes that the perfect drink exists for every guest, which is the center of his creativity and thoughtfulness when behind the bar. He takes tremendous passion in knowing that opportunity exists every time someone sits across from him at the bar.
Having grown up in rural Pennsylvania, Jon has worked his way through almost every aspect the industry has to offer. Starting his career by slinging beers, and from high-volume night clubs to craft cocktail speakeasies, Jon has made it his life’s passion to create unique and memorable guest experiences. He continues to grow his craft through determination and a drive for creativity.
Currently, you can find Jon behind the bar at Death & Co.’s newest venture located in the RiNo district, where he also runs the bar’s employee education program. For Jon, nothing is more important than education in this industry. Whether that education is applied toward product knowledge, hospitality, personal growth, or mental health. “The key to success in this industry is to challenge yourself to learn something new each and every day and to continue to grow as an individual and professional,” according to Jon. “Bartending isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle full of adventure and amazing opportunities. To be part of this industry is to be part of a family of professionals that you can find anywhere in the world.” Jon will always be the first one to tell you that he feels lucky to have found a career that is also his passion. “Work isn’t work when you love what you’re doing,” he says.