The coronavirus pandemic has caused a numerous amount of issues within our society. Our world has practically been flipped upside down with new laws and mandates in place to lower our coronavirus numbers, which included many people losing their jobs due to shutdowns. However, essential employees such as nurses, EMT's, and even home improvement workers have had to provide service to the public regardless of how bad the virus has spiked. While I may not be saving lives, working at a home improvement store throughout this summer has definitely been an interesting experience.
Here's a list of my new realities with customers and coworkers as a pandemic retail worker:
1. Masker vs Anti-Masker fights actually happen outside of Facebook.
One day, I was ringing up a customer when I hear two voices in one of the aisles getting more and more escalated. After finishing up with the customer, I quickly went to investigate to see what was going on. Sure enough, a couple with their masks on and a couple with no masks at all were arguing due to a rude comment made towards the non-masked couple. I quickly split them up and sent them on their merry way to wherever they needed to go. But these arguments have been occurring a lot more lately.
2. You'll get yelled at when it's the shipping company's fault.
As a majority of us know, due to our online shopping sprees to keep ourselves occupied during quarantine, shipping in the pandemic takes FOREVER. It probably takes twice as long, in most instances, to even receive our packages. However, no one yells at my coworkers and I more than customers who ask why their 350 pound fridge hasn't arrived yet. Time and time again, I have to explain to them that due to the coronavirus, shipping will be delayed by two weeks just to get told that it's my job to make sure everything gets delivered on time... which it really isn't. Sorry, not sorry.
3. Constant hand washing. ALL. THE. TIME.
In general, hand washing is a good practice to stop the spread of the virus, and it is just overall a good practice in hygiene. However, I'm not talking about constant hand washing due to germs. We are constantly using rags soaked in a bleach-like cleaner that leaves a nasty smell and film on your hands that is ungodly. While I'm glad my register and hands are sanitized to the max, I don't appreciate my hands smelling like fish oil whenever I try to use a hand sanitizer to get it off.
4. People love to debate now.
Let me tell you, the customers that come into the store love to argue. Prices, policies, you name it, they try to argue about it. But now people are trying to debate politics and express their opinions about the coronavirus while I'm on the job. While I enjoy expressing myself and seeing different perspectives, people have recently become more hostile, to the point where it isn't even safe to talk about your opinions. It's getting to the point where if I don't even acknowledge them trying to debate. I get told I'm "getting absorbed into the socialist society" or that I'm "supporting a fascist society" when they don't even know my political stance.
5. Get used to closing/opening alone sometimes.
With coronavirus cases skyrocketing, many employees are calling out over the slightest sniffle or even leaving their jobs to make sure they aren't exposed to the virus. Along with that, I had to get used to multi-tasking like never before or even be the only lane open for several hours on end. And when I mean multi-tasking, I mean it. Sometimes I'm answering phone calls at the customer service desk while processing a return and an in-store pickup order all at once for several hours on end because we're so understaffed. Not only that, but you need to act like everything is fine so you don't scare off the customers.
6. Cleaning supplies are still selling out in the first two hours.
I wish I were over-exaggerating. When it comes to cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer, our fresh shipments are gone within two hours. One day, when the overnight crew put out about fifty or sixty of each product onto the shelves, I swear to you all of it was gone by nine o'clock in the morning. People really are not messing around when it comes to these wipes.