Opinion: Be kind to essential workers

Cassie Mohr, Feature Editor

I get it: things are incredible stressful right now. People have lost their jobs, students are struggling with the transition to online school and families are worried about their relatives’ health. This stress, however, should not be taken out on essential workers.

I work in a hardware store, so I’m classified as an essential worker. We have seen more business in the past few weeks than we have ever seen before. Many people are home, so they’re trying to past the time with finishing home projects they never had time to do before quarantine.

Stores like mine have had a difficult time adjusting to this new business style. Our website has launched a curbside pickup program that we’re not used to dealing with. The site can’t always operate to handle the high volume of orders, so sometimes orders don’t go through or they take several hours to do so. Some people have been patient. Others, not so much.

One customer picking up a curbside order almost shut his trunk on my coworker’s head. Another refused to roll down their window when an employee was trying to explain something to them. Others have been blatantly sexist to my face, demanding that they speak to a man instead of me. One yelled at me over the phone because something he ordered twenty minutes beforehand hadn’t reached our system yet. Some customers are not taking this virus seriously, even trying to talk to me and my coworkers about how COVID-19 is just like the flu and all that die from it are people with preexisting conditions.

But we can’t tell them that the virus has a much higher mortality rate than the common flu, and that people with preexisting conditions are still people that do not deserve to die. We can’t tell them that some of us working right now are immunocompromised or have family members who are. Please don’t tell us that our lives or our families lives don’t matter.

My coworkers and I are not begging for thanks and praise. We just want people to be thoughtful when they break quarantine to go to a store or restaurant. Don’t pay with cash when possible, wear a mask and gloves, turn the product(s) you’re buying to show the barcode so we don’t have to touch it when we scan it, carry your own pens incase you need to sign something, keep your distance and most of all, be kind.

Essential workers aren’t heroes. We’re just people. Treat us like we are.