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!