This past Saturday night, after giving two weeks’ notice, a close family member had his last shift at a local grocery store. A wonderful 72-year old man, he joined the grocery chain’s employment rolls in November 2019, looking for some extra income, but primarily to be a part of a community of people for 20 hours a week.
Then Covid hit. At the advice of his doctor, he masked up, shielded up, and exercised extraordinary precautions so he could continue his frontline retail experience and stay safe. He never got Covid from his retail experience but he – and his fellow employees – endured verbal and physical abuse during the course of their workday. Here are just a few examples:
- People entering the store, ignoring the state-mandated mask requirement, and verbally attacking store employees when handed a mask to wear while shopping.
- Others walking into the store to purchase late-night snacks, not wearing a mask, and berating the masked store employees and customers by shouting comments such as, “Enjoy this fake pandemic, you f*cking clowns!”
- And on my family member’s last grocery store shift, witnessing a female grocery clerk being assaulted after she unlocked the liquor cabinet for the assailant because he said he wanted to buy a bottle of booze. She unlocked the cabinet, he pushed her aside and ripped the liquor bottle right out of the clerk’s hands, and ran away.
Frontline workers are there for us: medical workers, law enforcement officers, garbage handlers, postal workers, shipping company workers, restaurant workers, retail employees, and so many others who want or need to work so our day-to-day lives will be more palatable.
2020 has been very difficult for all of us, but those difficulties do not warrant abusive and cruel behavior toward others. If ever there was a time for gifting others with kindness and respect – the same kindness and respect we all crave – this year sets itself up as a prime example. Fortunately, beautiful stories of kindness have made their way into the public’s eye, but hidden stories, such as those provided above, are far too prevalent.
Be well and stay well, everyone, and please spread love and compassion to those who are simply trying to make a living by serving you. Anything less is unsatisfactory.