by AMY MARLETTE

So, let’s get honest for a minute.

Today was a hard freakin’ day. One of the hardest ones since COVID started knocking on our front door. 

Let’s rewind quickly, my March started with a pest problem at work, followed in fast procession by an unexpected employee death due to overdose than a walkout of 3 people within a week, then COVID. And this was just  the first week of March! 

Since then, I’ve furloughed/RIFed/drastically reduced schedules of 45 people. One should note, the company is 130 people. Oh, and we are essential healthcare workers. 

So back to today. Before starting work at my dining room table with the dog barking and the preschooler screaming, and the wife trying to work all in the background, I ran to Hannaford. This was supposed to be a hefty but quick shop. I took a work call while skipping through produce. I was on a headset, not a speaker. After about 2 or 3 minutes I started to notice the stares. All the older women were glaring at me! Yes, I was there early (8ish) but it was well after the 60+ allotted time. They just kept glaring, so I glared back. I hate that I did, but I was annoyed! 

On to the deli- it’s closed! I’m sorry, but I have an extremely picky 4-year old that only eats one specific type of ham, cut one specific way (save your judge, it is what it is) and now I’m cut off from that! Shit. This sucks. It’s ok, I’ll check out the precut and make do. It’s all about sacrifices, right? Look at that, no cheese. Fuck. So I’ll ask this nice deli attendant, staying well away from her at 8 to 10 feet, I ask for some cheese. She informs me it will not be cut until “later”. Umm, ok I’m here now, so no cheese.

I quickly move through the rest of the store, realizing there is no chicken and no small shells, both things I need. Ugh, this sucks!

I’m frustrated. I just want things to be normal! I want people to not be selfish. Let the supply chain restock and stop hoarding fucking food! I’m screaming this all in my head as my anxiety builds up and I start to get flustered. 

I get through the store and make my way to check out. There is a shield. A big piece of massive plastic protecting the cashier. I get it. They need to be safe. But it is large and purposeful and imposing. I hate it. 

I hand over my reusable bags and am told I have to pack my groceries if I want to use my bags. At this point, I didn’t realize that amid a pandemic, plastic is all the rage! I say ok, I’ll pack them. That’s when it happened. By the grace of God, Jan was my cashier. This woman was a saint. She must have been able to tell I was 5 seconds from a sobbing meltdown begging for the world to go back to normal. She was a delight! She made me laugh. She put it in perspective. God, I love Jan!

Hannaford store 8376, pay Jan more! She is the definition of a good human! 

On to find chicken, small-town grocery for the win. I find an open deli counter, yay for cheese, and the correct ham cut to the correct thickness! Also, they had a box of small shells! Ok, looking up. Shop local people, it’s worth it. 

Now home to start working. 

Work was a disaster from the get-go. As mentioned before, we are essential health care workers. No not a big hospital, but still healthcare. Still essential. By noon I had taken over a dozen unemployment help me phone calls. I am not an expert, and even if I was I wouldn’t be now because the system is soooo overloaded, no one has a clue what’s going on! 

The day continues, I’m taking employee calls up until to 730pm, because there is a staffing issue. After all, we have a group of essential employees who don’t want to be essential, and the government has made being furloughed at 100% lucrative. On the final call of the night… the words “well we have never been through a pandemic before, so we are going to have to operate with some grace” come out of my mouth. To which the employee then assumes I’m not terrified by our current situation.

Honey, I promise you, I’m terrified. I’m just trying to make sure the employer I currently work for is there on the other side of COVID. I promise you I’m terrified. 

So, today was hard. Really freakin’ hard. 

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