Thu September 6, 2012
A Bartender Finds Commute To Work Stressful During the DNC
The Democratic National Convention was in full swing on Tuesday. And so was security. For LaTisha Allen, a bartender at Kalu Asian Kitchen, just a block away from Time-Warner Cable Arena, getting to work during the DNC was especially difficult.
Allen lives in an apartment complex in Matthews and she apologizes for the clothes on the floor and the dishes in the sink.
"I don't have time to clean because I have two jobs," she says.
She's an assistant manager at Forever 21, a clothing store, in the University City area. She also works part-time as a bartender at Kalu Asian Kitchen in Uptown Charlotte. She's packing a suitcase and bringing a bag full of laundry with her to work. She and other employees are staying over at her manager's apartment this week above the restaurant.
Tuesday was her first time even attempting to go uptown during DNC week. Allen gets a call as soon as she hits the road.
Johnny Evans is the manager of Kalu Asian Kitchen. He called to let her know the entire street near the restaurant is blocked off. He wants Allen to call him when she"s nearby to help her navigate the new traffic patterns.
Soon, it starts to rain.
"I have to get new windshield wipers tomorrow. They're about to fall off," Allen says. "After I make the money tonight!"
She expects the DNC to pay off. That's why she took a few days off from her job as an assistant manager so she could tend bar. She's hoping for big tips.
When she reaches East Third Street and Queens, she's excited. But not really.
"This is where the fun will begin pretty soon," Allen says.
There are a few protesters and police are on the corner of the street -- on the corner of almost every street.
"Charlotte usually has a lot of police," Allen says. "But I've never seen it like this."
When she reaches East 5th Street, she asks a Secret Service agent for help.
She's told she needs credentials. Maybe her manager can meet her at the checkpoint. Twenty minutes later, she's still trying to figure out how to get to the right street.
"Lord. This is too much," Allen says. "I'm hungry now."
Finally she reaches the right checkpoint. She starts to drive up when officers yell at her to stop.
Allens is on the phone with a Secret Service agent who is standing next to Johnny Evans, and she tries to hand over the phone to the agent standing over her car so that she can be let through. But then the call drops.
"Lord, I am like terrified right now," Allen says.
After she tells them the apartment number she's going to, the officer let her through. She drives up to the next check point where officers inspect her trunk and a dog sniffs her car.
Finally, she gets through. she playfully holds up a clenched fist in frustration, when she sees her boss at the entrance to his building's garage. What's usually a 15-minute drive, took an hour.
"Now I'm parking, and finally the headache is over," Allen says.
She gets out of the car and she shares a laugh with Evans. But Johnny's frustrated. The restaurant is empty and Allen soon learns that she won't be working that night.
"I was forced to shut down today, I just decided. We are so gridlocked-blocked in we can't get anybody in," Evans says. "We're losing money."
There just isn't convenient access. There are tall fences surrounding the building and checkpoints Evans didn't know would be present. All of his employees are late and he has a lot of trouble getting them inside the restaurant to work during the DNC.
But the week wasn't a total loss. Kalu was back in business Wednesday night for a private party. So at least Latisha didn't go through all of that security for nothing.