Every job has its perks: employee discount, advanced notice of sales, and incoming products. Sometimes the perks of a job are the people you work with. I can personally relate to the last one. At times, it is the only perk of working in a grocery store and being a grocery store employee. My position, specifically, is a courtesy clerk. When I am not writing my articles for Society19, I am running back and forth, getting products for customers, bagging their groceries, and running carts in a row to be sanitized for incoming customers. If you knew who I was and caught a glance at me working at my day job, you would know me as the woman who has sweat running down her face, hair is in a messy bun, and gives it her all at what she does, even if it’s not where she wants to be or how she wants to spend her days.
Working as a grocery store employee is never easy. You have to deal with rude customers whose only purpose of being there is to insult you, spit in your face, curse your name, and blame their bad days on you. To give you an explicit detail of what my day-to-day looks like, working as a grocery store employee since COVID-19, take a look at the list below.
1. Foul Language (Being Cursed At)
As I said before, working as a grocery store employee has its perks. Yet, like any job, it also has its drawbacks. One of those drawbacks includes being cursed at. Since COVID-19 began, the pandemic has brought the best or worst out of people. Being a grocery store employee, I get the pleasure of bearing witness the truth of that phrase. Like everybody else on this planet, COVID-19 has affected and taken a toll on the customers that walk in and leave the grocery store. Their attitudes are the perfect imitation of a true bipolar man or woman. As grocery store employees, we take the cursing, the profanity, and the favorite four-letter-words that the customer(s) has been itching to say to us since they walked in. Despite these cruel actions that occur every day, I, as a grocery store employee, (a courtesy clerk), cannot respond to the customer how I wish I could. Instead, like many other grocery store employees who are cursed at for no apparent reason, I smile underneath my face mask and ask the customer if he or she would like help with their groceries, and my finishing sentence to them is that I wish them a good day.
2. Spitting (Being Spat On)
Being spat on is not the worst thing that a customer has done to me, as I bag their groceries and help them to their vehicle. Yet, it is one of the most insulting things a customer can do to a grocery store employee. Some of you may think that customers would not do that or that maybe since COVID-19 began, people are not that cynical or cruel anymore. Well, unfortunately this is not the case. Like any natural or tragic disaster, the tragedy will bring out the best or worst in people. COVID-19 is no exception to that, and unfortunately, working as a grocery store employee, I have experienced the lesser end of the stick of that phrase. How I generally respond to customers who spit on my face, hand, or uniform, is the same as to how I respond to someone cursing out my name. I mean, what else can a grocery store employee do?
3. Not Practicing Social Distancing (Getting In Your Face)
Even though the city, state, and the nation declare that we practice social distancing—maintain six feet apart from the person next to you—that does not mean customers will. Within the past week, I have had customers get too close for my liking. When I politely asked them to take a few steps back, behind the rack, they would oftentimes respond with an attitude or a snarky comment. A comment that was neither necessary or wanted. Not only that, but they would reach over their groceries that I am bagging for them, attempt to take the bags before I place them in front of the glass wall (I think that is what it is), and try to leave without paying for their groceries. I could manage the attempt to steal your groceries, but when a man is inches away from the front of my face, asking me a question that I can barely hear with my mask on, that is when my anxiety and nerves tend to shake more than the two-track of a roller coaster.
4. Blame (“It Is All Your Fault. This Is All On You”)
You have heard the phrase “The customer is always right.” Well, if that were true, then Coronavirus, the lack of supply of demand, and my bad hair day is all my fault. One thing I have learned while working as a grocery store employee is that the customer is rarely right.
5. “Thank You,” and “God Bless You”
Since COVID-19 began, it may have seemed that it brought out the worst and true colors of every customer. That is true. However, despite the harshness and cruelty that some customers act upon and in turn make me question my murderous instinct, some customers are good and are the reason I smile at work. On those same days, I have had customers curse my name, spit on my face, uniform, and blame me for their days’ trouble, some customers will approach me and thank me for coming into work, showing up, my kindness, and for helping them. When these occurrences happen, I am reminded why I accepted my position as a courtesy clerk at Raley’s Belair, and why I swallowed my pride and dove for the opportunity to return to the first job and position I ever had (even after completing college and getting a degree). Working as a grocery store employee has its drawbacks, but as I said in the beginning, it also has its perks– this, being the best of them all.
How do you treat the grocery store employees upon walking in and leaving the store? Do you work in a grocery store? If so, how has the COVID-19 affected the customers in your workplace? How are you and your co-workers managing, and handling the behavior of your customers? Let us know in the comments below.
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"Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers."