Life Remains the Same: The Mindset of an ” Essential” Worker
March 25, 2020
While everyone is bored at home trying to be safe from the COVID-19 outbreak, those who continue to work may feel that their life hasn’t changed.
For students, their lives may have changed on March 11, when Skyline College announced that campuses would be shutting down campuses in order to protect from the spread of COVID-19. The mornings may feel different, coming into class in pajamas, but the rest of my day seems normal.
The following Monday, it was announced that businesses all over the Bay Area must now shut down, except if they are considered essential. I arrived at work at Home Depot Pro that Monday, and every customer came in a complete panic, buying every item in bulk they could possibly load on to their pickup truck. I looked around, and every manager and supervisor looked completely normal, as if everything that is happening in the news, or anything else in the outside world, was not happening here in the store.
For the next two hours, customers kept asking, “Are you guys closing tomorrow?”, and I could not give an accurate response, because I did not have any idea of what was happening. Finally, three hours into my shift, I asked the first supervisor around, and he answered my question, telling me that we are in fact staying open because we are considered essential. Half of me wanted to sigh in relief. A lot of businesses that are temporarily shutting are not paying their employees, and if this were to happen, I don’t believe my job would have paid me. The other half of me was confused — If my workplace is not taking precautions, then maybe I shouldn’t either.
Over the last week, my job slowly began to adjust to what was going on. The first three days felt like any normal day — The same number of customers piled up at the registers, and the break room still felt dirty, as it’s always been. Finally, the first few sets of signs had been put up, telling us how to wash our hands. I continue to see a lot of touching the break room table, and people being in close contact. Luckily, I have my car to act as a break room. It was not until March 19 that the company finally decided to start closing the store at six o’clock that is a whole three hours less than we usually close. But it does not change the fact that everyone working in essentials is still working in fear.
Going to being paranoid on the products you touch and whether or not you are doing the right thing to stay clean. As of now, management is slowly adjusting to what they think is right for their employees by not providing masks, gloves, paper towels or even water for their employees. But following the rules is not enough to keep the paranoia out of the minds of employees. It has come to the point where we do not depend on management to help us stay clean and safe but it is now and every person for themselves type of thing.
Those who work in the essentials must think about themselves in staying healthy and hope they bring nothing bad to their homes. Essential workers are living in the life of a double edge sword where one side is living your life as normal as possible without getting sick or hoping that one day your job tells you to pack it up. It is just a fact we must live with all we must do is hope for the best of hope for the worse.