Saturday, March 14, 2020

An ode to the grocery store clerk

I've been to the PCC no fewer than nine times in the last two weeks. I've also made stops at QFC, Bartell's, Trader Joe's and Walgreens. Though I try to restrain myself on each visit, I am aware that there is an element of desperation in every trip.

I am familiar and friendly with the staff at my neighborhood PCC, the grocery store I visit most frequently. Over the last few weeks I've noticed how incredibly tired they all look. The lines are longer than during pre-snow-storm days and there are no breaks. The store is always busy. There is constant stocking and preparing and bagging and cleaning.

Yesterday I went early, before 7:30am, hoping for a quiet moment in the store, but it was already buzzing. My checkout clerk already seemed fried. I asked him how he was doing and he gave me a look saying, "what the fuck? when will this end? how did we get here?" and I gave him the same look back, nodding as I bagged my groceries.

It was after I left the store, feeling just that much more calm, a little bit more prepared for whatever I need to bake or cook or clean or treat, that I realized that these checkout clerks are a little bit like therapists. They hold the energy of all of these people who are in their store to derive some sort of comfort. We go to the PCC to get our ducks in a row-- to fill our bags, restock our supplements, treat ourselves to something from the deli-- and we leave feeling a little bit better than when we walked in.

These clerks and baggers and stockers and cooks and cleaners who work at the PCC and other stores like it, are giving us an incredible service. They are patiently, lovingly taking care of us during this time when they themselves must also be scared and worried and confused about the future.

I just want to say thank you. I am truly grateful for your service.

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