Working in retail during Covid-19
What has it been like to work in a food shop during U.K. Covid-19 Lockdown?
I have been working through Covid-19 during the entire lockdown and I’m tired and stressed. At first I was very worried because I feel responsible for well everyone but also because I don’t really want to get a virus like Covid-19. I’m not vunerable but I’d just completed a winter where I’d had 5 colds/ flus due to the fact I just see a lot of people anyway and I wasn’t really happy about having to work a minimum wage job while everyone not considered a “key worker” seemed (to me at least) to complain about how bad they had it for having to stay inside. At the beginning of lockdown I’d just self isolated for 2 weeks because I’d had some kind of flu and by staying inside I’d developed the impression from the media and from Podcasts that this thing was being taken seriously and that people were social distancing.
I started work after isolation to meet basically a lot of confused and bored or upset people (right then I was pretty confused too because a lot had changed in the two weeks I’d been away) who had to be told not to do things that should be common sense to not do in a pandemic like “don’t walk into the que”, “wait for the person in front of you don’t just shove past them”. Some went shopping because they could think of nothing else to do during lockdown because food shops were practically one of very few open public spaces. It was sunny and everyone wanted to BBQ plus panic buying in the beginning had caused low stock levels of some items. It has been a constant battle to just deal with the people (who are probably a minority but they stick out more from the rest) that do not practice basic respect to each other or to key workers.
I felt very much like someone who was considered less of a person by some people. I was very aware of how these certain people saw me as no more than an asset to a company when they would try to march past me in an empty shop instead of using an alternative isle to become angry when I asked them not to. If you see enough people in a day then you are bound to bump into someone or a few people with this attitude. “The customer is always right” is a silly term because chances are they may well be wrong (they don’t do the same thing day on day out) and they especially aren’t right if their actions could potentially impact your health. It’s a very selfish action to brush past someone who’s working in a pandemic when the shop is empty for midly quicker access to things. Those actions of some people caused me to constantly work in a nervous state always looking behind my shoulder because I’m aware that some people don’t respect me no matter what advice or how much help they are given to practice basic distancing.
People will clap for us but also go to shops to buy a few items of food with no nutritional value. I see people get angry at key workers on social media or outside other shops on my way home and I fail to understand why they consider this to be ok. If that person is there and all they are trying to do is keep you, others and themselves safe then what’s with the anger? The best thing we can all do is respect each other and have patience with each other whilst following guidelines/ policies for social distancing during lockdown.
On the positive side of things there has been a greater amount of respect from the general public towards retail workers. It is difficult because those that in the end were considered nessasary were not always the people who got the greatest respect or pay for the work that they do. To be a retail worker is usually to be considered a replaceable low skilled worker and yet they are the ones who always are there basically providing a service that supplies the vast majority of people with the basic means to live.