6 Thoughts From A Retail Worker Working Through A Pandemic
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6 Thoughts From A Retail Worker Working Through A Pandemic

Working in customer service is a totally different ball game than it was in 2019. Here are six thoughts that run through my head every shift.

6 Thoughts From A Retail Worker Working Through A Pandemic
Photo by Arturo Rey on Unsplash

What used to be a game of just not getting yelled at by customers has evolved into a game of not catching the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19). Naturally, this changed the way I think of my job. These are the thoughts that cycle through my head the most during a typical eight-hour shift as a retail worker during a pandemic.

Are you seriously not wearing a mask?

I get that masks are uncomfortable.

I don't get using that as an excuse not to wear one.

Not wearing a mask in public is endangering others and it's so frustrating to work retail and be helpless against whether or not the customers wear masks. Technically, I have the right to enforce this rule here in Pennsylvania, but are you really going to tell a Karen she has to wear a mask when you can't even get her to stop calling you names? Yeah, I didn't think so. I tolerate enough verbal abuse from customers already, I don't need to add to it.

That's not a mask, that's a chin guard.

Wearing a mask but wearing it on your chin is not wearing a mask.


Pull it up over your mouth AND nose. If you're going to wear it around your ears (the part of your being that most easily experiences irritation from wearing masks) at least wear it in a worthwhile manner. The only thing more frustrating that chin guards is when customers wear it over their mouth but not their nose. You're so close. So close. Just pull it up an inch. You can do it! I believe in you!

Why do you have to stand so close to me?

I typically work register at my job which means I can't really be six feet apart from customers (not that you really can in any aspect of retail). My job put tables up in front of the register to help support the six feet apart rule, but customers have started just stepping around it. They stand beside the counter so that they're maybe not even six inches from me. I don't know why. I don't get it. Stop standing so close to me. Personal space existed even before a pandemic people, but now, it's just endangering my wellbeing.

Can the customers even tell I'm smiling?

As a rule of working in customer service, workers are supposed to smile when greeting customers. The idea is to act happy so that customer has a positive experience and comes back. But with masks, can they even tell? Could the customer notice if I was smiling or scowling? The ruling is still out on this.

My ears hurt.

I admit it, masks are uncomfortable. They pool sweat against your face and irritate the backs of your ears. If they fit wrong, they can make it feel difficult to breathe. But they are necessary and I will wear it despite the discomfort. I have bruises and blisters along the backs of my ears, but I will continue to wear a mask.

Where's the hand sanitizer?

I go through so much hand sanitizer is a single shift that my hands often look patchy and dry. My nails are breaking from being dried out from the chemicals. Even in the humid summer, my skin is cracking it is so dried out. But I need to use hand sanitizer and disinfectant to protect myself and others. Having dry and itchy hands is a worthy sacrifice to keep myself from getting sick. I have to use disinfectant to clean down my register and doorknobs to protect myself, my coworkers, and the customers.

* * *

At the end of it all, I tell myself that my bruised ears and cracked hands are a symbol that I am doing my part. I am carrying out the necessary steps to stop the pandemic, despite my own personal discomfort. Wear a mask with pride, pride in knowing that you're doing the right thing.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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