I’ve been writing Reality Bites for five years, and it’s been a more meaningful, and—honestly—life changing endeavor than I ever could have imagined way back when I started jokingly critiquing king cakes on Facebook. I have been immeasurably privileged on this journey, and I only wish I had some way to pay it all back to the folks who’ve made that possible. We all know that an unthinkable amount of people have been laid off, as bars, restaurants, and coffee shops have been forced to shutter. It’s brutal. The vast majority of my friends are in an uncertain and terrifying space. The service industry is the backbone of this city, and without it, I don’t know what we’re going to do. I can’t eloquently express my gratitude to all the cooks, servers, baristas, bartenders, dishwashers, bussers, hosts, etc. etc. who have kept New Orleans running for so long. This is my love letter to each and every one of you. I don’t know how we come through this. I don’t know how we, as a city, move forward. I just know that I want to say thank you. I hope we see each other again soon in a crowded room filled with laughter, flowing drinks, tables piled high with food, the sound of trivial conversations drowning everything out. What I mean, is that I hope I get the chance to say thank you in person. And I promise, when I do, I’ll leave something extra in the tip jar. | illustration Ben Claassen III 

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