I'm Unfortunately Going Back to Work
Going back to work as a non essential worker
Hi there, just your average clothing retail worker here. Dreading the fact that I have to go back to work. Of course, no one has a gun to my head saying “you have to,” but aren’t they?
Before I get into it, I will say the company I work for has put some serious thought into reopening and have extreme protocols in place from what I’ve seen and heard from coworkers, managers, and the company itself. And I commend them for it. That being said, I do think reopening a clothing retailer or anything along the lines of “non essential” or frivolous businesses isn’t the smartest idea.
If you’ve ever worked with the public then you know that people tend to suck. Especially now when people like to get in a frenzy about wearing a face mask to keep themselves and others safe. While I know the company has provided us with plexiglass around the registers, more manager power in order to control the amount of people in the store at any given time, and rearranging in order to follow social distancing guidelines; the anxiety about people still remains.
I live in a home with an immunocompromised, disabled, pregnant woman (my stepmother) who is in her third trimester with my little brother. I wasn’t exactly siked about the idea of going back to work in the middle of a pandemic. Especially at a job that deals with the public, on top of it not being something particularly important to the public.
But if I don’t go back, I’m out of money. My dad’s main income is dry since schools are closed, my stepmother is about to be on maternity leave (as we all know, the US doesn’t guarantee paid parental leave), and I’ve been collecting more money on unemployment than I made in two weeks at this job. While I enjoyed my weeks collecting roughly $800 every week on unemployment, those benefits would no longer extend to me if I refused to return to work.
Let me explain: I live in Northern Virginia where the expectancy of resurgence is… high. So much so, the rest of the state entered phase 1 before we did because we had such a high amount of cases in the area. No one in the company or area can guarantee we won’t close again (obviously) but if we do, I again qualify for unemployment benefits because “I stayed with the company.” A few weeks ago; pretty much all of us were furloughed, which is a fancy way of laying us off without actually doing it. It doesn’t guarantee our jobs back but does guarantee us unemployment benefits from the company.
Now, while I live with my parents (broke and in college), I do still have bills. Insurance, “rent”, credit card, medical, etc. I’d like to be able to pay those. So the choice was hard but obvious. I either don’t go back while letting myself and my household barely tread water. Or I go back and risk exposure but I pay my bills. After some lengthy talks with my household, I’m going back to work.
This is a classic “rock and a hard place,” you either do something and run yourself into a corner or you run the other way into an immovable object. Do you crush yourself or do you topple yourself? Decisions like this, for people like me… do not come easy. This isn’t trying to decide where to eat; it’s life or death. This is the decision that we have to make for the utter incompetence of our leaders.
People are suffering, people are dying, people are struggling, people are not okay.
I’m not happy about it.
I’m not taking shit from anybody.
And I urge you to stay at home during this time, because jeans and shorts are not a good enough reason to possibly kill someone.