I’m an essential worker. Here’s what my day is like


Luka Slayton

The scene at Weis, one of the few businesses allowed to stay open amidst Pennsylvania's social distancing lockdown.

TOWAMENCIN – The date is April 11th, 2020. I’m working from 2:00pm to 10:00pm at the local grocer, Weis Markets. It’s not usually a fun job, but alas, it’s one that has to be done. (Does it have to be done by me, a depressed sixteen year old who hasn’t slept in a couple days? No, but it’s going to be).


I clock in and shove my bag under the customer service desk. I get my keys from the safe and talk to my manager as she clocks out. It was a very relaxing start to my evening.  


I run out online orders, making sure that the paperwork is filed correctly before stocking cigarettes and helping customers with directions. It’s boring, which I like.  


I answer several phone calls in a row asking about toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and rubbing alcohol. After disappointing all these customers with the news that we’re sold out, I’m cussed at and hung up on.


A customer walks up to the desk to ask me a question about toilet paper, and I inform him that we’re sold out. He cusses at me and coughs in my face.


I clock out for break and sit in the break room to cry.


I clock back in from break to find a long line at the desk. I’m cussed at by several people and do my best to speed through the line, but stay helpful and positive.


Yet another customer coughs in my face after I inform them that we’re sold out of antibacterial wipes.


I have the privilege of calling that the store closes in an hour. Once again, I’m sworn at by several adults for being sold out of things, some even going the length to blame me personally for the shortage.


I start counting coupons and printing my reports to close the desk properly. I’m yelled at by a customer for being “unable to help” when the item she was looking for was sold out. (Yes, it was toilet paper).


I make the announcement that the store is closing in less than ten minutes and am told off by another customer for not being open later. (It was a corporate decision to close at 9 instead of 10).


The store is closed and I usher the last customers out of the store and have the doors locked so no one can get in.


Cleaning my department.

This consists of:

  • Wiping down/sanitizing register screens, pin pads, and conveyor belts
  • Wiping down/sanitizing self checkout screens, pin pads, and counters
  • Wiping down/sanitizing all door and refrigerator handles
  • Wiping down any other “touch points” (This includes door knobs, store phones, keyboards, counters, bag holders, scales, hand scanners, etc)


I swipe my badge and clock out, making sure to sanitize the time clock after I do so and finally going home.

I understand that this is a difficult time, it is for all of us, but now more than ever we need to treat the “essential employees” with respect and kindness. I don’t have to work, but what I’m doing for my community by working and being there to help out means more to me than a couple customers ruining an evening with some poor language. I’ve been learning to overcome situations like this so I can continue to help in any way I can, and that’s true for all grocery employees. We are doing our best to help you be your best at home.