Working During a Pandemic
May 3, 2020
Schools may be closed, but the work hasn’t stopped for many Hampton students. Read below some first-person accounts of working at local businesses through the pandemic.
Three years ago when I applied to Shop n Save, I wasn’t thinking about what my job would look like in a worldwide pandemic, nor that I would ever be considered an essential worker. Before the code red was put upon our community, I believed that most people were just overwhelming themselves with the idea of this virus spreading. We saw a bunch of people over buying, stocking up on items that they usually wouldn’t such as toilet paper, cleaning products, and canned items. This was okay, until half the population was doing as such and we experienced a worldwide shortage of items that many individuals need. Currently in our store we are facing a shortage of essentials items, so we’ve had to place limits on quantities of paper towels, toilet bowl cleaner, bleach, and lysol wipes.
Being a cashier at this time has its ups and downs. A lot of customers ask us about how we are feeling and there really isn’t much to say. I live with a compromised individual (my mom has arthritis) and when I come home I have to strip out of my uniform and shower immediately to hopefully clean myself if I were to carry anything. Other cashiers that I work with like Joanne, an 80-year-old widow, tells me that she has no choice but to come to work. Nobody else is going to help pay bills or feed her cats, which is true. Many Americans are facing that decision that even if they are older they are still taking hours to help pay house bills so they aren’t left on the street.
Another friend of mine, Ashley Zinno, is also an essential worker at Wal-mart. Her experiences are a bit different since we don’t work together, but I know that she has picked up more hours because a lot of the older folks have dropped out of the system to avoid exposure, which means younger people like us have to take more shifts.
Working during this pandemic has been very surreal. The extra tasks we have to do on a regular basis cause a lot of stress. At Monte Cellos, we only stay open from 4 to 8, so we often get a big rush around 5 or 6. Most of the time I rarely get a chance to stand still. Taking the orders out to the curb can be enjoyable, but only when the weather is about 65 degrees. I now have to try to get customers to pay over the phone, which can be a problem for some. My mask definitely makes breathing more difficult, and causes me to get overheated. Although, I feel pretty safe being out serving food. I know I am doing the right thing because of all the support from customers. It is amazing. I am so fortunate to still be able to work, and help others during this time.
Hello, my name is Brady and I work at the Gibsonia Giant Eagle. Working during a pandemic for me really hasn’t been that different. I will usually be a cashier or stocker. Stocking hasn’t really changed at all. It is still taking an object out of a box and putting it on a shelf but cashiering has changed a lot. For one, I already have terrible hearing so I can barely understand what people are saying most of the time. Then when someone has a mask on it just makes it all the more difficult. The store has implemented “The most rigorous sanitation practices” as they say over the intercom. That consists of putting plexiglass over the registers, washing belts and keypads, and changing the location of the payment card reader. Another thing they did was change the aisles to be “ one-lane,” but this is never followed. They put a cap on how many people that can be in it at one time but we have never gotten close. Another difference is a lot of workers temporarily stopped working during the crisis so some of the younger, braver and healthier team members are needed to step up their hours. It hasn’t been all that bad though, we get a higher pay rate for working through the storm and a constant stream of thank you for your services from our loyal customers.
Working during this COVID-19 pandemic has been a very interesting and strange experience. I work at Wagner’s market on Middle Road and since the start of the outbreak we have been doing things a lot differently around the store. The first thing that changed was we are now open 9-5 every day of the week and instead of closing the deli 15 minutes before the store closes it is open until the store closes. The second big change was that we started to get fewer hours working because all the college students have come home also need to work so that they can make money through this whole thing. Our last two big changes are that we have to always have a mask on and we have to wipe down all of the handles, shopping carts, and baskets around the store after we close with bleach water to clean them for the next day to hopefully not spread the virus around the community in case any infected persons had touched any of those surfaces.