My First Day Going to Work During A Pandemic

Emily Howse

© Copyright 2021 by Emily Howse

Girl putting groceries into car.

Today is the first day I will be at work where Iím required to get my temperature taken and be required to wear a mask.  Worried about this because what if one of the people I work with ends up with a fever and Iíve worked with them.  Could I possibly get COVID 19?  My grandma lives with us and has a compromised immune system.  I donít want to bring that home.  Don't want her  to  get sick.  I use hand sanitizer and wash my hands a lot at work but would that be enough? I take a shower the minute I get home from work.  Also Worried about this because I think the mask will make me feel claustrophobic.  I have anxiety and get panic attacks as it is and Iím worried that this will make those things increase.  Especially after last week.  I was dispensing groceries to a customer and she started to scream at me that her wait time was too long and that I shouldnít be working at Wal-Mart because Iím too stupid and dumb.  That was my breaking point.  I finished loading her groceries in her cart, thanked her and told her to have a nice day and walked away.  Walked away before I snapped and said something to her that I shouldnít.  I went back inside, threw my stuff down and went and sat in the corner and burst into tears.  I was kind of embarrassed that I got to that point.   I didnít want the mask to make me feel anxious and have a panic attack at work.  

I finished getting ready for work and said ďbye I love youĒ to my mom and grandmother and got in the car and went to work.  On the way to work I chill out, blast some music and take the long way to work so it can be a relaxing drive before I walk into chaos.  Iím hoping that there are enough people working today in on line grocery pick up because when there arenít enough grocery runners it can be overwhelming.  Iím also wondering if there will be any of the good workers scheduled for the same time that I am there .  It is frustrating when I am working and running back and forth bringing out groceries and going to the staging area and to the cooler and other people are just standing around doing anything.  

Then there are the customers who complain about the wait time for their groceries to be brought out.  There are times when there arenít enough people in our department .  When that happens, sometimes they grab people from other departments, which short staffs that department.  I know that the plan was to hire some more people to work online grocery pick up.  Hopefully that happens soon.  There are customers, in the store, that stop me to ask if we are hiding items in the back like toilet paper and cleaners.  We arenít.  We canít put that stuff out fast enough and most of the time, it doesnít last long on the shelves. 

Iím also hoping to see some of my regular online grocery customers who understand that we are doing the best we can.  People have to remember that most of us are high school students or young adults.  We canít control what the store has or doesnít.  We canít control the fact that there is a pandemic and the amount of people using the online grocery option has gone up.  Be patient with us.  We are doing our best.  We have to follow the pick up verification process and mention the satisfaction survey.  .  There are times that I want to explode and be rude right back to customers when they have an attitude with me, but I donít.  I keep my cool, take a deep breath and walk away after Iím done with putting the groceries in their car.  

As I pull into the parking lot, I see that there is a small line of people waiting to get in.  I guess today there was a rush of people wanting to get in and get out and we were over the amount of people that we can have in the store.  Itís interesting because while people are shopping, no one is paying attention to the social distancing or only having one person in your family do the shopping if you can.  There are entire families shopping and wondering around.  I get it, youíre tired of being in the house.  We all are.  But walking around Wal-Mart to look at things isnít what you need to do.  Take a walk or sit outside.  

Getting my temperature taken wasnít a big deal.  Thought the screening would be done by a nurse or maybe someone from pharmacy.  But it was done by a Wal-Mart employee.  I got asked a bunch of questions about my health and how I was feeling.  It was odd.  Never thought Iíd have to do this to be told I could work retail.  Got handed a mask.  Wasnít as bad as I thought.  Didnít make me feel like I couldnít breathe.  Walked to the break room since I got there  early.  I normally get there 30 minutes early to chill and relax before work.  I also get there early to see if there is anything new that I need to know. Sometimes there's food in the breakroom for all staff that is provided by managers.  They donít have to do that but I think itís nice when they do.  Itís nice to feel appreciated.  

My shift for that day wasnít bad.  No customers were rude and I didnít get yelled at.  Customers I helped were pleasant and understanding and some even said thank you.  Sometimes they try to give some of us tips but we arenít allowed to accept them.  There were co-workers there that I liked and that worked.  I didnít have to say anything or show how annoyed I was because no one was standing around.  And we did hire more people for online grocery so maybe people wonít be so angry about the amount of time they have to wait for someone to bring out their groceries. Hopefully things will eventually get back to normal soon. 

I'm a senior at my high school.  This was my experience working during Covid.  I live at home and continue to work my part time job.

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