OPINION: Please be kind to workers


Hailey Stessman

Please be kind to workers; they are trying their very best. Graphic by Hailey Stessman/The Gateway

To all those who work in retail or at a grocery store, I offer you my deepest condolences.

The very thought of working in retail causes me to break out in a sweat. But working in retail during a pandemic? My absolute nightmare. The combination of rude customers, minimum wage with insufficient benefits and the heightened risk of contracting coronavirus is a recipe for fear and anxiety to burrow deep into the pit of your stomach and never go away.

Confirmed cases of and deaths from COVID-19 are reaching an all-time high and are increasing at a terrifyingly rapid rate. As more updates and data are released regarding the severity of the spread, there seems to be a rift forming between two groups of people: those who are living their normal lives and those who believe the lockdown never ended.

Individuals I would categorize in the former group would be those who are throwing parties, dining at restaurants and going out to the bars. If you fall into that category, I hope you know that so many people, including myself, are absolutely furious at you. Recklessly throwing parties with a large group of friends while refusing to wear your mask is not cool, nor does it paint you in a flattering manner, especially when you broadcast it on social media. When faced with backlash, many immediately respond with: “We only took our mask off at the table!” Hey buddy, the coronavirus isn’t forgiving.

Now those who are still in lockdown mode, I hope you know that your actions are much appreciated. Don’t know what it means to still be in “lockdown mode”? These individuals never leave the house without a mask on, are limiting their outings to essential trips such as picking up groceries, and are choosing to support local businesses in a COVID-safe manner.

Unfortunately, our state leaders don’t seem to think that it is necessary to issue a stay-at-home order or a mask mandate. Rather they are simply repeating the same common sense tips that we should be following anyway. (But that’s for another article.)

While I am worried that those who are casually dining at restaurants or going to bars are contributing to the spread, I am even more worried about the workers at those establishments. I think some people seem to forget that workers during this time are living paycheck-to-paycheck in fear that they won’t be able to afford their rent, bills and groceries. They are having to put their lives on the line in order to fulfill your careless desires.

While tapping through Instagram stories and scrolling on Twitter, I am reading countless horror stories of workers having to put up with inexcusable behavior from customers. Customers will complain about the restriction of services, refuse to wear a mask over their nose and be rude to the employees for no reason. It is not their fault that their friends and family members are testing positive or dying, and they have to keep a smile on their face through the pain in order to make you happy. They are begging and pleading for us to comply with their rules, to stay home and to complete the simple task of wearing a mask properly.

If you want to be a compassionate and kind human being, please consider doing the following things: Research to see if your local business has a website or offers curbside pick up, and opt for that choice rather than browsing in their store. Always wear a mask over your nose, even if it is not required. If you want to make a quick visit to your favorite local business, go alone. The less people within the store, the better. And finally, please be polite. Say “thank you,” use sanitizer during your visit and practice social distancing when asking for help. It will be greatly appreciated.

When supporting local businesses, please do so in a considerate manner. Always wear your mask over your nose, avoid aisles or areas that are crowded and be kind to the workers. If our leaders won’t comply with our pleas, especially from medical workers, we need to take it upon ourselves to return to a lockdown lifestyle and be accommodating to local businesses and their employees.