Lessons Learnt From 2020

Welcome to the new year. Make 2021 a better year. Not just for yourself, also for your friends and loved ones.

In 2020 many plans fell though and I had to make some tough decisions like everyone else. Everybody was under pressure, nobody was spared. I have been quite fortunate in 2020. What I can say is this, to quote Jethro Tull “Nothing Is Easy.” (Jethro Tull is awesome, so many good songs.)

In 2020 I have learnt a lot. I will try to keep it chronological. There will be some overlap here and there. Either way time to start.

Hard Work Pays Off

Last year I started power training with a friend who happened to be a professional trainer. She taught me many things I did not know. My focus was and is strength. In the beginning you wonder how the gains will manifest themselves. After a while things that used to be heavy become light. Long shifts feel short. All that training is making you tougher as you train more.

Additionally at my new employment post-Vapiano I worked really hard. It paid off and my department ran really smoothly. It was a lot of work but management listened to me when issues arised. I always went for the extra mile to make sure that I could go home earlier the next day. Sometimes people from other departments helped me out. People trusted me and helped me out. All those long days paid off.

If The Management Fails, Get Your Money & Get Out

At Vapiano the work was fun. I would consider it a dream job if you are willing to learn. However Covid19 happened and on the 15th of March the restaurants had to close. On Monday the 16th of March the first quarantine and/or lockdown in the Netherlands started.

Guess what the management of Vapiano Netherlands did? Nothing, we had to stay silent and wait for our pay. Towards the end of March 2020 Vapiano Netherlands was almost done for and the pay still was not there. In the Netherlands 1 bad month, sure you can survive. In month 2 debts start to pile up. In month 3 you can lose everything.

One thing I detest in a crisis is management that decides to stop communicating. In all my years of working in hospitality and catering that is has always been a bad sign. When additionally they are broke, pay you late and treat you like a throwaway employee you know you have to leave. I left Vapiano and made sure to avoid a bad month. In a looming crisis bad management can make life worse, much worse.

In Times Of Crisis, A Job Is A Job

My job post-Vapiano was not what most people would consider a fun job. Thing was, I was done with waiting for my money. Vapiano Netherlands had not paid and I had bills to take care of. I took the new job, accepted that it would be not pleasant and told my new boss that coffee was important.

Yeah, logistics is a lot of finding hands on solutions and getting things done. Well when you have to toughen up, toughen up.

When You Make Good Friends, They Can Make Life Better

While the Summer of 2020 was ending I was still keeping in touch with my friends in Amsterdam. At the time I lived in The Hague and I almost settled in The Hague. It is a fun city and well connected. Well one of those friends was a good friend and offered me a place in his team. I talked to him in person we worked out some details. That job offer made it possible for me to move back to Amsterdam. Good friends can really help you out.

The Wutang-Clan Was Right, “C.R.E.A.M.”

“Cash rules everything around me”, that is not some cynical remark from a Hip-Hop collective. When you want to have nice things and some fun in life you want to earn more than you spend. What is left is the cash that can keep flowing in or you spend it and it flows out again. Well in the future you need more money and in times of crisis cash can fix quite a few problems. Cash-flow is a good thing to have.

If The Rulers Fail, Save Yourself

Now if you wonder what I mean by this one prepare. You see for a long time the Covid19 outbreak was treated like a flu. My colleagues told me to take precautions. Many of them had family who had lived with the S.A.R.S. outbreak in Asia. Before many other companies took measures, my post-Vapiano employer took serious measures before many other companies did. It was effective and made personnel and customers happy.

What happened in the Netherlands?

  • March 15th: press conference, restaurants have to close at 18:00 sharp, measures depend.
  • March 16th: second press conference, the first lock-down a.k.a. quarantine begins and nobody knows what to expect.
  • The first lock-down a.k.a. quarantine after several updates is set to last until May, starting June 1st hospitality and catering can open again.
  • June 1st, Black Lives Matter protest in Amsterdam becomes a massive protest, Mayor Halsema allows the protestors to break the Covid19 rules.
  • August 27th, Dutch Minister Grapperhaus of Justice & Safety celebrates his wedding, breaking his own rules and the photos reach the media. Dutch Prime Minister Rutte sees no issues, but after this debacle the fines for breaking the Covid19 rules are lowered and there will no longer be a record, just a fine.
  • October 16th, the Dutch Monarch Willem Alexander went on vacation just after the advice was given to stay home for the holidays. He only returned because the criticism from all sides kept coming. Dutch Prime Minister Rutte had no explanation. The royal couple apologised but the damage has already been done.

In the past weeks more rules have been announced. Fear of the second wave shifted into fear of the wave, no fireworks and a new lockdown until January 19th. Thing is, people are fed up. No fireworks, okay more random fireworks on the streets because fuck it.

For me the worst thing is very subtle. From March 2020 to October 2020 the Dutch cabinet told the media (thus us) “testing, testing, testing” and guess what? It was all on a small scale. A pandemic hits and you test on a small scale while updating the national statistics with incomplete skewed results? Additionally updating the national statistics can be riddled with delays so the numbers are never exactly correct.

All you can do is pay your bills, taxes and stay alive. At least in the Netherlands there were no Boris Johnson or Donald Trump situations. If that is all though…