And we’re open again

Ruins of the house of John CoWane, a 17th c. merchant. Stirling, Scotland.

As of yesterday, Washington State is back open for business in every way. Individual businesses can still require masks, operate at lower occupancy to encourage social distancing, and all of that. But there’s no longer any government mandates to do so.

Where I work, it’s likely we’ll still remain running at 50% capacity. We’ll still have partitions at the registers, clean a lot, and count you as you come in and leave. Employees will be masked up, even if we’re fully vaccinated, and do an online assessment before every shift.

These things are staying because, based on what I’ve seen over the last year the parent company isn’t going to drop them in my state if they’re still needed in Georgia or Florida.

I’ve been impressed with how the company’s dealt with the pandemic as a whole. They’ve been more concerned with our health and safety than their bottom line. We had a few positive cases at my location, but management kept things private. There wasn’t a huge, “did you hear”, gossip fest if someone tested positive. We took some deep, masked up, breaths and moved on, never prying into that person’s health.

I’m at the front door today. I’ll be greeting people, counting them, and telling someone on the other side how many we have. They’ll let me know when someone leaves. It’s not glamorous, but it gives me the chance to plot while I work.

What I’m not looking forward to is the shoppers who think I make policy. That believe that, because the Governor said the state was open we shouldn’t have rules. And want to blame me personally for the decisions of the company.

I don’t set store policy. I have to enforce it, but no one asked me what I thought.

This pandemic isn’t over. I know that. There’s variants going around that they’re trying to keep ahead of. Some areas are losing the battle, partly because of a ton of misinformation about the vaccines. And privately owned businesses can set policy that you don’t like. If it’s applied to anyone – regardless of race, religion, orientation, or gender – then it’s not discrimination. COVID doesn’t care if you’re white or black, rich or poor, Christian or Wiccan, male or female. So a store who wants to keep social distancing numbers in place isn’t violating any of your rights by saying they’re only allowing so many shoppers in at a time.

Grow up, people. The cashier you’re yelling at has spent a year hearing conspiracy theories, being blamed for a crap of policies they didn’t set, and usually worked a lot of hours for little pay. They’re doing a job you think is beneath you, based on your dismissive and demeaning attitude, and are not to blame for you having to park at the end of the row instead of near the front door. The clerk stocking the shelf isn’t the reason why the brand of toilet paper you want isn’t there, or there’s no more of your favorite cereal.

Retail workers are not there for you to take out your frustrations on.

So, please, remember to be kind. Realize that they’ve gone through a lot with this pandemic, and it’s taken a toll. A heavy one.

BB/Chan Eil Eagal Orm

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