First things first. To all the health care workers, I don’t know how you’ve done this for over a year now. I’m in awe of you all. Thank you is not a strong enough sentiment.
In my part of the world, we have been in lockdown since Boxing day 2020. A stay at home order was imposed early January and fingers crossed it is supposed to be lifted February 10th. Although I work retail, our store sells shoes and safety footwear to essential/front line workers, so yours truly has been working the entire time. We are open by appointment only for front line/essential workers and for any other customer, we are offering curbside pick up. Yep, selling shoes curbside, in Canada, in the winter. Yep, it’s different to say the least. I try not to complain, for I am still working, shortened hours, but working none the less. My boss treats us to coffee, takes over any irrational customers, in person or on the phone, we can take as many breaks as we need, I am fortunate and I know it. That being said, it’s been, interesting. At the end of my 6 hour shift I feel as if I’ve come off a 12 hour shift. Physically I’m fine, mentally, I’ve hit a wall. Curbside sales are now handled via text, email, phone call or facetime. At any given time I have 3 phones on me… I feel like a cross between a stock broker and drug dealer.
The majority of customers have been great. Patient, kind and grateful for the service we are providing. Unfortunately, of course, being retail, there have been some customers that make Karen seem like Mary Poppins. Being me, I’m gonna let you have a glimpse behind the curtain and share some of the experiences of my co-workers and myself. I can’t make this shit up.
- at least once a day we receive a call from someone wanting to come in the store. We ask them if they are working and when they say no, we explain we offer curbside and that instore shopping is by appointment only and for essential/frontline workers. Then they proceed to ask us to lie for them. Yep. They actually say “Can’t you just say I’m essential, I really want new running shoes and I always try on at least 10 pairs to find the perfect one.”.
- We’ve had people come in for a scheduled appointment turn around and tell us they are retired, that they aren’t working. *Cue manager intervention and direction to curbside service.
- We’ve been yelled at and the f-shot shouted at us over the phone because the customer thinks the “lockdown/stay at home order is bullshit!”. …sigh
- We have to tell customers to put their mask on when we deliver their shoes curbside.
- I’ve been told I don’t know what I’m talking about when I explain the lockdown/stay at home restrictions and regulations
- Many products are on back order, because of Covid. At least three times a day, myself or one of my co-workers is yelled at because of it. My favorite retort is “That’s what you said when I called on Sunday!” …we are closed Sundays.
- When we take the purchases out to the cars, it’s so much fun when the customers exclaim “Sure is cold eh? You gotta be freezing!” and continue to chat as they are in the warm car. Sometimes I inch forward in hopes of catching some heat from their vents.
As I said earlier, most of the customers have been great. Grateful for their new footwear so they can go to work and get the job done. Jumping out of their cars, mask on to get the boxes from us so we don’t have to be outside longer than needed. Tipping us for our service. Asking us how we are doing. I had a gentleman ask if he could go get me a coffee. Elderly customers telling me I brightened their day, staying on the phone with them for 30 minutes helping them replace their slippers.
I can’t believe it’s been a year that I’ve been writing about Covid retail. A year. Although it’s been tough, and dealing with the public hasn’t been the thrill ride of my life, I do have to say, every day, at least one person, a perfect stranger shines a ray of hope into my day. Genuine kindness expressed. Genuine concern and compassion has been shown. Yes, we need a vaccine. Yes, we need to wear a mask. Yes, we need to sanitize/wash our hands, and yes, especially now, a year into this pandemic, kindness can be a cure too. Kindness may not cure a virus, but it can cure a beaten down spirit. It can bring warmth to your heart and a smile to your face. One of my favorite quotes goes a little something like this, “Your kindness may be the only glimpse of god someone see’s today.”. A simple act of kindness can give someone the energy to keep going, give them hope of better days to come. Be kind, plain and simple.