Essential.

Coming to terms with working during the pandemic

Essential.

Credit to Rocklin, California

Jim Tarrant, Reporter

If you’re working during all of this madness, I just want to start this article by saying that I really appreciate you. As someone who has seen the stress of the past couple months firsthand, I respect those with the resolve to keep going when you have an excuse not to. With that said, I wanted to highlight my experience with the pandemic so that you’re not alone.

I got hired at my new job at the beginning of March. At that point, the virus was a growing concern, but not something we would ever anticipate snowballing into a global pandemic. I was hired as a salad bar clerk and only worked that position for four whole shifts before the salad bar was closed due to health concerns regarding the virus. Soon after, I was transferred to the front so I could bag. Bagging groceries obviously doesn’t require any kind of formal training, but it was still something I wasn’t exactly prepared.

The first week of bagging was the store at its most busy. Lines as long as the aisles behind them, people asking when the next shipment of toilet paper and hand sanitizer would come in, and shopping carts full of whatever people thought they would need for the coming weeks. Whether the panic buying is justified or not, it was such a strange feeling seeing everyone in such a hurry. You always see that kind of thing on TV and history books, but actually being in the thick of it is a much different experience. I can’t say it was entirely unpleasant either. Although we got our fair share of impatient and unagreeable people, the majority of them were extremely thankful that we were all working. It was far more welcoming than my past few jobs, where pleasant and grateful people were the exception rather than the rule.  

Although things are changing every day in terms of safe working procedures, I’ve come to terms with facemasks and steady doses of hand sanitizer to be the new normal. I’m grateful that I haven’t ever had to wear one up until now; It leaves red marks on the sides of your ears and makes it a little harder to breathe. Gloves are a must-have for pulling carts, which was fine by me considering I had worked in the food industry for a good two years or so. The one thing I can say I haven’t got used to is the health PSA that plays over the radio every 8 minutes. I understand it’s intent, but it got very annoying very quickly.