Out-of-work employees weather coronavirus

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

COVID-19 has prompted layoffs and furloughs across the country. Locally, employees who are out of work are approaching the unknowns the future holds in their own ways.

Braylin Brosmer, The Beauty Bar Jasper

Braylin Brosmer hasn’t cut or styled a client’s hair since March 6.

Upon returning from a vacation outside of the country, she entered a two-week self-quarantine period, during which the salon where she works, The Beauty Bar Jasper, shuttered its doors to the public.

Brosmer doesn’t know when it will reopen. In the meantime, she is relying on the income of her fiance, Miles Recker, who owns B&M Auto Detailing and is continuing to work from their Bretzville home.

“Thankfully, he can still work,” said Brosmer, 22. “Otherwise, it would be pretty tough.”

The couple had been putting money back with the hopes of entering the local rental property market, and Brosmer is hopeful that money stays where it is. She admitted that they aren’t saving as much as normal, but also said they aren’t hurting yet.

She is wary, though, that if Recker’s business slows down significantly, they could be in trouble.

“Obviously, I can see that happening because it’s not really a necessity,” she said. “You don’t have to get your vehicle cleaned. It’s nice to have it done, but if other people are hurting, then that’s something that they might cut out.”

Because clients will have gone an extended time without haircuts and other services she offers, Brosmer is anticipating a surge in customers when she finally does get back behind the chair. She might work seven days a week for a while, she said, trying to get everyone caught back up.

“But I’m thankful that I will be busy,” she explained. “Some people, like Miles, he may not have work for a while if other people are hurting financially. So, I am thankful that I will be swamped when I get back.”

Brosmer has applied for unemployment, and she is waiting to hear if her application was accepted.

She has been cutting hair for almost three years. She said she has always been an artsy person, and she sees her work in the beauty field as a way of making people feel beautiful.

“It’s fun watching their reaction whenever they do a big change to their hair,” she said. “Or, I do eyelash extensions also, and just seeing people’s reactions and making them feel beautiful, it’s fun.”

Doing her part to protect others is important, too. But she’s looking forward to seeing her clients and co-workers again when it’s safe.

Emily Huddleston, Brew

Just before the world began to change, Emily Huddleston had begun entering a new chapter of her life.

The 19-year-old Huntingburg woman had just signed her first lease. Her job as a manager at Brew was going great, and her 20th birthday loomed in the not-too-distant future.

But then, on March 20, Huddleston helped make an important decision. She, her co-workers and restaurant leadership decided together to temporarily close their Main Street Jasper eatery.

“We’re trying to keep our best interest for customers and employees.” Huddleston explained on Thursday. “We want to keep everybody safe and healthy.”

In the time that’s passed since that move, she has filed for unemployment. But she hasn’t put her life on hold.

Huddleston moved into her new apartment on March 29, and though life is “definitely kind of boring” at the moment, she’s moving forward.

“I still think, in a way, I still started a new chapter of my life,” she said. “It’s just there’s a pandemic in it now.”

She’ll be financially sound for “at least a few months,” she said, adding that Brew hopes to reopen as soon as it can.

“Yes, I wish I had my paycheck, and I wish I was getting paid,” Huddleston said. “But I’ve also been really good at saving, so I know I’ll be good for a little while.”

She is used to working almost every day. She is used to interacting with customers. And she’s used to being with her co-workers, who have become a second family to her.

“Knowing that they have my back and I have theirs is kind of what’s kept me there for so long,” Huddleston said of her year-and-a-half career at Brew.

She misses them. But she believes in the importance of the decision her team made.

Ross Hartings, Active Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Clinic

For someone whose job centers on healing and helping others feel better, the time away from offering most professional chiropractic services has weighed on Ross Hartings.

The Jasper man works at Active Chiropractic in Jasper, and has canceled all appointments with patients through the end of April.

“It’s very difficult,” he said in a Friday phone interview. “Some of these people I’ve had relationships with for years now. And as a health care provider, it’s the balance between helping those that need help and keeping them healthy, versus unnecessarily exposing them. Especially with this virus, when you don’t know whether you have it or not, until it’s basically too late.”

Hartings is currently seeing only emergency patients — mostly those with acute lower back injuries — and is working without a staff while taking extra precautions to sanitize his office and protect those who do need to come in.

The significantly reduced workload could also have a financial impact on his family.

“I’m the sole provider of our income for our family,” Hartings said. “So, to not have that, it adds some stress. [The] immediate impact hasn’t been felt yet, but if this drags on, it’s really just the unknown of how long this is gonna last, [and] what kind of impact that’ll have on us financially.”

Government funding could help ease that blow.

Hartings and his wife, Andrea, are parents to four children. Them being out of school and off their typical routines has also been a challenge for the kids, and not being able to see extended family has affected them, too.

But good side effects have come from Hartings’ time away from the office as well. He has more time to concentrate on his Christian faith, and the slowed-down pace of life has allowed the family to enjoy more time together.

Whether playing outside or sharing one-on-one moments, he has enjoyed that.

“There’s been some positives for sure,” Hartings said. “As far as the slow down of life, just having more time with them, it’s been good in that aspect. It’s just the financial strain, it becomes stressful after a while, after you start thinking, if this lasts three or four months, that’s where it gets a little scarier. Where do you go from there?”

Herald Reporter Allen Laman hopes to tell the stories and experiences of many employees who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Email him at alaman@dcherald.com to share yours.




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