Essential

I must say, I would be excellent at staying home. I do it whenever I get a chance. I would be able to sit on the deck for sunshine and fresh air. I’d get the yard borders ready for some planting later this spring.

But, no, I’m essential; even though I don’t think that’s the word that first pops into people’s minds when they regularly come across me in my work as a clerk in the Home and Garden department of a grocery store plus retail. Sometimes customers don’t even see me, as though I’m a store fixture. The majority of shoppers are nice and some frequent fliers even become friends of a sort. Luckily I haven’t had very many encounters with unpleasant folks who come at you with, “The customer is always right, and I feel like you are my servant for whatever time we have together.”

The reflective vest I wear for the breaks and lunches of my coworkers at the fuel kiosk invites notice. Half of my day is spent out there. Walking back and forth between fuel and the store gives me plenty of time outside in the fresh air and weather. Once in the booth, I can set the thermostat to whatever temp I want. If I’m having a bad day with fibromyalgia, there’s a stool and I can sit sometimes. Best of all, these days, there’s a big old glass window and we talk through a speaker. Starting today, we’ll be sanitizing the pump nozzles, pin pads, and other touches surfaces every half hour. We’d been doing it at two hour intervals. Many customers thank me for wiping everything down.

When I’m not at the fuel center, I can kind of do whatever strikes my fancy. During bad weather, I usually walk around the store looking for lost shoppers. People are so relieved to see someone, they’re usually really glad to see me. Great way to start. Then we chat while I walk with them to find that one thing in a huge store. Love that. Presently, I’m using that time between trips to the gas pumps to clean up the primroses and pansies, which splash such beautiful colors across the front at the doorways. Love that too. The few months we’re able to staff the wonderful garden center, I can hardly believe I’m getting paid.

The company gave all the associates a $25 gift card when the madness began. Next week they’re giving hourly employees a bonus. They give us a paid day off for our birthday and one for the anniversary of your hire date, in addition to regular PTO. I only work three days a week and I get full benefits.

Back in the day, I was a teacher, counselor, health educator, etc.I was proud to be a professional. I probably treated store clerks okay. I was snippy with some, very rarely I hope, if I was sick or upset. Alas, I fear I was impatient and demanding a handful of times, though my best friend might say it was more than a handful. I don’t think I thought about store clerks, one way or the other, for the most part.

My goal daily is to make customers’ days better, if even for just a few minutes; but when I was little, I didn’t strive to be a gas station attendant or a store clerk. And look at me now – I am essential.

Published by Sara

I'm middle-aged, mother of two adult sons, and a wife. I've been a teacher, counselor, medical transcriptionist, student teacher supervisor, substitute teacher and now I work in retail. File that under life takes many twists and turns one cannot predict!

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