Being an Essential Retail Worker in a Pandemic

We all know that 2020 has brought many challenges that we are all facing for the first time and we have all heard about the importance of essential workers. More often than not, when one says “essential workers” the first thing that comes to mind are doctors, nurses, teachers and other front-line workers, don’t get me wrong this is 100% deserved and they should be honored more because they are key to our health and future wellness, but an essential job that has gotten slightly overlooked is that of the retail workers. As many stores were shutting down, those who carried essential items like toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and grocery items stayed open to the public.

The uncertainties brought heightened fear among many and we saw things that normally never go out of stock fly off the shelves in no time flat. With how many out of stocks we had so quickly, limitations had to be put on items so it gave more people a chance to get what they needed to get by until more product came in. What shocked me the most when these limitations were put in place was how many people took the every person for themselves approach, ignored the posted signs still grabbed everything they thought they needed to stock up on and did whatever they could to make sure nobody stopped them, from bringing multiple kids/family members with them to all check out separately, going to self-checkout leaving the duplicates in their cart and double scanning the one they did pull out, throwing full on adult fits, and even hiding things around the store in attempt to come back for it later. Have you ever needed 12 cans of Lysol at one time? Me either but I’ve seen it be purchased in that quantity within the last few months! Ya I’m sure you’re laughing sitting on the other side of the screen but these all really happened and it’s not even the tip of the iceberg! When hours were shortened and specific hours were set aside for those with compromised immune systems and the elderly we would have lines of people outside the doors waiting to get in like it was Black Friday! With the amount of people at the doors in the morning most days we were out of toilet paper before 8:30 am and would get calls from customers in the afternoon convinced that us as employees were buying out all the toilet paper prior to store opening and that was why they couldn’t get any in the afternoon. Oh yeah I wish I could make this up! Also, since we were getting really busy at totally random times of the day customers began complaining that we had too many employees on the floor and that it was impossible to social distance because of it, so we took almost all of our employees to overnight shifts to accommodate this and as soon as we did customers were still complaining but this time it was because they couldn’t find anyone to help them.

Now don’t even get me started on the mask mandates! When it first came out that us as employees were required to wear masks, we all complied but would have numerous customers come up to us at the check lanes and around the store and say, and I quote “I don’t know why you’re even wearing that sh**, they don’t even do anything you just look stupid.” Now circle around to present day when everyone is required to wear them, I’ve never seen so many people become concerned with what they think are included in their “rights”. You know how children all go into that phase where no matter what you tell them they always tell you no and do the opposite, COVID has become that phase for adults. I can’t tell you how many people I have seen walk in the doors with a mask on, only to take it off or move it off their nose as soon as they get past the front lanes and if they are asked to pull it up/put it back on we get eye rolls, attitude, cursed and yelled at. Don’t get me wrong I totally get it, I don’t want to wear a mask either, they are annoying, it’s hard to breathe, I now have teenage ache all over again and it’s one more thing I have to make sure I wash constantly, but we do it for our full shifts to keep everyone safe per health department requirements and all we ask for is a small inconvenience for a short shopping trip that the same is done by the customers.

Long story short, be nice to your retail workers, we are out here doing our best to make sure you have everything you need to get through this trying time. We don’t own the company, we don’t make the rules, we just work here and have to follow them just like we ask of you. I know that many who read this will disagree with me and that’s totally ok, these are my opinions on my personal experiences during this crazy time. It is ok to disagree with me, I don’t mind and I welcome the opinions of others as long as they are done so with kindness. I also realize for every negative experience we had, there were 20 positive ones by those thanking us for being open and doing our part to keep everyone safe and for those people I thank you in return because people like you are what keep us going!

Do you know how close minded you are?

Do you realize how close minded you are? Here’s how I figured out how close minded I was. I started saying YES to everything.

About 2 years ago, I made the choice to study abroad. Being born and raised in Montana, I loved it. I loved the outdoors, and the opportunity of adventure at any point. What I didn’t realize was this was the ONLY thing I knew. I always deemed Montana, Missoula specifically, as a place where most people are well rounded people, and I think relatively, they may be. However, staying in one place your whole life can be very toxic.

I moved to Australia around two years ago, but not just to Australia, but to one of the biggest foreign exchange schools in the world. When I met people of new and different cultures, I noticed immediately the assumptions I made, and how quickly I again banded myself with people similar to myself. I hated myself for it. I understand this is a natural human function, but as I noticed it happening to me, I brainstormed how to break myself away from it. What I did was, I started saying yes to everything.  When someone asked me to do something, or an opportunity presented itself, or some random person on the street asked me to talk, I would always say yes, and I held myself to it. I started saying yes to opportunities I, in the past, would have turned down immediately for reasons to do with pride, fear, etc.

I very quickly saw the change it made, and yes, I did have the occasional situations I definitely should have said no to. But in the long run, I saw myself becoming a much more experienced, well rounded, and cultured person. I started going places, eating things, and hanging out with people I would have never before. It was absolutely liberating and I’m so glad I did it. I saw it as “going with the flow”, and instead of doing that with my own interest in mind, I truly did whatever opportunity came to me. I put myself in danger, in so many awkward situations, but overall, experienced life as it came to me. I made way more friends than I ever would have, and experienced life lessons at a much faster rate than I previously would have. Free yourself, open your mind, SAY YES!!

Quick Trips to Take if you Live in Missoula, Montana

A Weekend on the Coeur d’Alene River

After a two and a half-hour car ride from Missoula, we arrived at the Little North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River for a weekend of secluded camping!

 

 

We spent our time learning how to fly fish, (catch and release, of course), swimming in the water, laying in the sun, and exploring the beautiful remoteness of North Idaho…

 

… and we met this little guy!

 

 

 

A Day Trip to Glacier National Park

We woke up early in the morning and drove 4 hours to Going-to-the-Sun Road, making frequent stops along the way. Here’s a look at what we saw!

An Afternoon at the Hot Springs

One afternoon, we drove an hour and a half toward Jerry Johnson Hot Springs to warm up on an overcast day.

It’s an easy, short hike along the river until you reach the pools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you’re there, you can explore a variety of pools ranging in temperature, depth, and size. 

Your Guide to Missoula, Montana

Mount Sentinel

Nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Montana, Missoula is a hidden gem where urban lifestyle meets adventure. Completely surrounded by seven wilderness areas, this city is rich with culture and endless outdoor recreational activities. In no particular order, here are the 5 best things to do when visiting Missoula, MT.

 

#1 | FLOAT DOWN THE CLARK FORK RIVER

Clark Fork River Float
Clark Fork River

During the summer, floating down the Clark Fork River is one of the best ways to cool down and relax. Every day, hundreds of locals on tubes, paddleboards, and rafts pass through town enjoying the sunshine and clean air.

 

#2 | GRAB A DRINK AND PLAY SOME GAMES

Arcade at GILD Brewing
Arcade at GILD Brewing

GILD is a locally-owned brewpub that just so happens to have an awesome arcade in the basement. From pinball to board games, GILD has everything you need to start the night off right. Not to mention, they have some of the best-tasting beer and hard cider in town.

 

#3 | HIKE MOUNT SENTINEL

Mount Sentinel Trail
View on Mount Sentinel

Going for a hike on Mount Sentinel is a favorite for people visiting Missoula, and for good reason. As you gain elevation, you are able to see the entire city and the vast valley that lies below. In the distance, you can see the Rattlesnake Wilderness and Snowbowl Ski Area (shown above).

 

#4 | SHRED SOME POWDER AT SNOWBOWL

Montana Snowbowl
Montana Snowbowl

If you happen to visit Missoula in the winter, be sure to check out Snowbowl Ski Area. Conveniently located only 12 miles from Missoula, Snowbowl offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the West.

 

#5 | TRY YOUR LUCK AT FLY FISHING

Rainbow Trout
Rainbow Trout

It wouldn’t be a trip to Missoula without a fishing excursion in the mix. Missoula is world-renowned for its trout fishing streams, with a variety of different species to hook into. There is an impressive number of outfitters to choose from, so take your pick and get out there!

 

Your Guide to Glacier National Park

I had the opportunity to work in Glacier National Park for the 2018 and 2019 summers and I’ve got to say, it is one of the most beautiful destinations in the United States. The park has gained significant attention over the past 10- 15 years. The yearly visitor count has almost doubled in that time, from averaging around 1.5 million visitors to 3 million+ the past 4 summers. The now heavily trafficked park can be stressful to navigate at times, as it’s realistically designed to host under a million guests each summer. My hope is this post may give future visitors a better idea of how to approach their trip to Glacier.

 

GO ON A HIKE

During the summer, the roads through Glacier can look as though it’s rush hour in New York, making driving a frustrating task. The best way to avoid the stress of driving? Get out and hike! Glacier offers over 700 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy family-friendly loops to epic multi-day backpacking trips that cover up to 30 miles. 

Planning out which trails you would like to hit in advance is a good idea. Some trails, basically any trail near Logan’s Pass, can have full parking lots by 7 A.M in peak season. Unless you’re willing to get up and after it early, it’s a good idea to have a few back up plans. Utilizing the shuttle services (pandemic pending) in the park is a great way to get around and avoid fighting other visitors over a parking spot.

Here’s a shortlist of my favorite hikes…

  • Highline Trail
  • Sperry Chalet to Lincoln Peak
  • Upper Two Medicine Lake trail
  • Stanton Lake

POLEBRIDGE

If you’re looking for a relaxing day, look no further than Polebridge. Polebridge is a small community located along the Northfork of the Flathead river located 22 miles south of the Canadian border. Tucked in the westernmost boundary of the park, Polebridge is in a more unknown part of the park, as it’s a 35-mile drive from West Glacier entrance that is primarily a dirt road. The “town” doesn’t accommodate much for lodging so it is a day trip for most. In fact, Polebridge doesn’t have many buildings at all as it holds two restaurants and one mercantile (be sure to get a huckleberry bear claw). Other than the food, there are a few small hiking loops, access to the Northfork, and fantastic views of the mountains that make up the Canadian-US border. 

After spending time at the Mercantile and a meal at Northern Lights Saloon. Be sure to make the 6 mile drive up to Bowman Lake. The drive is quite bumpy, so make sure you have a vehicle cable of some potholes and loose gravel. The lake is the perfect spot to set up some chairs and lounge while taking the occasional dip in the beautiful lake.

Northern Lights Saloon
The Merc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GOING TO THE SUN ROAD

Completed in 1932, Going-to-the-Sun-Road has been one of the top attractions to Glacier National Park. Although I mentioned the stress of driving in Glacier, you still can’t miss out on Going-to-the-sun-Road. The 50-mile long mountain pass goes over the Continental Divide and spans the width of the park. It features breathtaking views around every turn with plenty of pull-offs that guests can use to stop and take photos or go on hikes. The highest part of the road, Logan’s Pass, sits over a mile high at 6,646 feet and can accumulate up to 80 feet of snow in the winter. 

If you’re planning to make the trip before July and want to drive the road, be sure to check the road conditions on the National Park Service website. The snow on the road can take teams of snowplows over a month to clear out because of the mass quantities it receives in the winter. It is typically cleared by the second half of June, but some years it takes until early July.

The drive up to Logan’s Pass

 

 

RAFTING

There is no better way to see the park than from rafting down the glowing blue waters of the  Middle of the Flathead River. These forks make up the western and southern boundaries of Glacier and can be used for world-class fly fishing, scenic floats, and up to class III and IV whitewater rafting. The town of West Glacier itself has four different raft companies that collectively take down thousands of visitors a day. 

It’s the perfect way to beat the summer heat as the Flathead River typically remains under a cool 60 degrees. As I mentioned in the above paragraph, guests have the option to choose from numerous different float, some companies even offer up to 6-day trips where you are flown up into the nearby Great Bear Wilderness and float your way back into West Glacier. The multi-day trips aren’t for the faint of heart, but in my opinion, is the number one activity the park has to offer.

ALL FORWARD
Class II rapids Class V fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GO ON A HIKE!!!!

In my two summers of working in Glacier, I heard too many people complain about the busy roads throughout the park. There are 147 trails in the park, you’re guaranteed to find areas that have few to no other people. Get out and enjoy the fresh air! Be sure to bring bear spray, as the animals are WILD and should not be approached. 

I hope this helps a few that may have had questions about the park or were on the fence about going!