By Ashley Ferraro
From the outside it’s frightening, dangerous, and risky with every breath taken. It’s not the vibrant, wholesome atmosphere customers have come to expect. Instead, it’s tainted with plexiglas and subject to strict social distancing guidelines.
What some have begun to compare to a hostile wilderness, I find to be a place of comfort and possibly the only reminder of normalcy that is left in this world. To some, the grocery store is a source of dread, but to those who man the day to day operations, it’s a place of hope.
From the inside, it’s a locale of support and growth. Working in a grocery store in the midst of a worldwide pandemic might not be everyone’s ideal scenario. I surely wouldn’t say it’s mine, but it’s what I have and I’m grateful for it every day. The job descriptions of my coworkers and I have not changed. We are not warriors. We are here to provide you with food, household supplies, and a warm hello and goodbye with every trip. The very next day, we do it all over again with as much exuberance as we can muster up. We are still smiling under the masks, and we are still just as happy to see you.
That’s not to say it doesn’t get stressful at times. With any job, pandemic or not, we are faced with challenges. Issues still arise as they always have, and we resolve them as we would have done six months ago. Although new store policies have hit hard, they are nothing more than adjustments to a routine that has already been subject to fluidity. Only by overcoming obstacles can a workplace can truly flourish.
As an employee of a grocery store in a society being threatened by sickness, those adaptations had to be swift and prompt. I would be lying if I said I’m accustomed to the changes already. Being constantly bombarded by gloved and masked individuals whom I can hardly recognize is perplexing. However, those latex bound hands are attached to humans I care for. Whether it’s a coworker or customer I’ve grown to know as a friend, their presence continues to inspire. To give that up would be to accept defeat.
The system will never be perfect, but we are doing what we humanly can to keep ourselves safe. We are extending those practices to keep you safe, too. We want you to walk in with the confidence that you will bring home food to your families and stay healthy while doing so. We want you to enjoy your experience just as you always have, understanding that these changes will one day dissolve into a distant memory.
Unfortunately, I cannot speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself when I say going to work feels like a blessing. Being employed and holding a routine are things I will not take for granted again. Know that we can still see the smiles in your eyes, and that’s what motivates us to come back each day.