Essential

Essential

Elizabeth Kaiser graphic

That’s right. I’m working at a grocery store six to seven days a week during this pandemic. Personally, I’m kind of touched. It’s nice to go from unskilled and replaceable to essential and replaceable.

When I first came back to work it was hectic. Five or six people lined up at every check-out, even with five registers and self-checkouts open. I hadn’t seen it that bad since the snowstorm scare in January. People were buying dozens of each item, a total panic shopping horror show.

I made a comment about this to one of my coworkers, and one of the shoppers got mad at me, saying “Maybe you shouldn’t make fun of what people are doing?” He was actively admitting that he was panic shopping. Exactly what the news was saying not to do.

Anyway, it was ridiculous. One of my managers told me that when she stocked toilet paper people just pulled it off the shelves and reached around her to grab it. Ridiculous.

It’s slowed in the past couple weeks, though. It’ll be mildly busy until around six or seven, and then it’ll just die. But, they still want to have four registers open at all times, and all of us standing in front of the registers instead of cleaning: ridiculous.

They also recently installed plexiglass covers. The thing with it is, they installed it in the worst area. It’s directly in front of the belt, slightly inconveniencing both the cashier and the customer. It doesn’t even cover the pin pad counter area where more than 90 percent of the transaction happens! It’s as if the company is saying “yes we care” while also spending as little money as possible. Ridiculous.

And the gloves! They’re all mediums except like one box! I use the gloves once and they rip while I’m putting them on, they rip while I’m taking them off, they rip while I’m just moving my fingers, because there aren’t any in the right size!

And don’t get me started on other people and the gloves! People leave them all over the parking lot, strewn about on the ground and in the grass and in carts. Please: you aren’t helping anyone at all by wearing gloves if you’re just going to throw them in an area where people can come in contact with them and contract the virus!

And the carts, oh man the carts. People leave them all over the parking lot, in the grass, in parking spots: not in cart returns. I enjoy doing carts, but I hate it when people don’t walk the extra ten feet to put them away. I mean… come on.

The company should be investing more into online orders, pick-up orders. Instead, they let them pile up while having four to five employees up front just standing around. They could be helping relieve the weeklong wait time, but no. You have to stand up front doing nothing in case more than, like, ten shoppers arrive. If only there was a storewide PA system that could be used to call people up to the front…

However, there are some nice aspects. So many people thank me just for being there and working. It’s weird, because it didn’t happen before this. It’s nice to get some recognition, even if it’s the doctors and nurses that deserve it more.

Anyway, yeah, I’m essential. It’s hell, and it isn’t. It’s nice to work, and it sucks to be there, but it’s better to be helping rather than sitting, unable to do anything at all.