Restaurant worker Tay (@ceramictay) felt so swamped by unrelenting demands from customers that she began sobbing and struggling to breathe.
She recorded the incident and shared it on social media, captioning the clip: “When you’re understaffed and overwhelmed and the customers won’t stop yelling at you.”
In it, she gasps through tears: “Can someone please come in and help us? I’m having a panic attack,” as she administers an asthma inhaler.
“We have a catering order, we have 50 online orders – please come help. Please.”
In a comment on her post, Tay explained that she had originally sent the plea to her work group chat, but no one had responded.
The coronavirus pandemic has left businesses across the world grappling with staff shortages, leaving countless workers and employers struggling to plug the gaps.
Tay’s heart-wrenching video has been viewed more than 9.1 million times and racked up more than 1.9 million likes in a matter of days, as fellow TikTokers offered her their support and empathy.
“Literally all of us in the restaurant industry right now,” one commented.
“Every day during this damn pandemic,” added another.
“Remember guys we will not put up with toxic bosses and toxic customers,” a third wrote. “The type of abuse we receive in the restaurant industry shouldn’t be the way it is.”
While a fourth issued a public appeal, saying: “Please remember how much stress restaurant workers are under before you scream at them for not getting your food out in 30 seconds.”
It comes as a new study found that many workers are leaving hospitality because they consider the sector to be too unpredictable.
A survey of almost 1,000 workers in the UK found that one in three said Covid-19 had made them re-think their career, while one in four blamed poor pay for wanting to find another job.
Two out of five respondents to the study by jobs site CV-Library said they had quit because they believed the industry was unpredictable as a result of the pandemic.
Chefs who moved away from the industry often took up work as warehouse operatives, said the report.
Lee Biggins, chief executive of CV-Library said: “The hospitality industry faces a crucial few months ahead, the repercussions of which will last for some time.
“We aren’t just seeing the effects of the pandemic – Brexit and the continuation of staff on furlough also play a huge part in the shortage of candidates in the hospitality industry.
“There are available staff out there but in order to recruit, flexibility, competitive pay and other benefits must be carefully considered in order to secure these in-demand candidates.”