Shout Out #2

There are so many people out there getting it done everyday in conditions that are brand new to all of us. I’ve seen a bunch of stuff floating around the internet that recognizes the efforts of doctors, nurses, law enforcement, fire fighters, and emergency services. And justifiably so. I agree with those sentiments 110 percent.

But I want to take a couple minutes and point out a few other groups of folks who are kicking ass in tough circumstances. I’ll do these here and there over the next few days. Yesterday I gave a shout out to teachers (read it here), and now it’s on to another group worthy of celebration.

Here we go …

Grocery/Retail Employees: Admittedly, I’m a little biased here. My two oldest kids both work at grocery stores. And my first job after leaving the family farm was working as a clerk at Kinney Drugs. I remember what flaming buttholes people could be like on good days, and I can’t begin to imagine the stuff my son and daughter are dealing with these days.

For the past week or so, grocery store clerks have been a the front of the line in terms of stress and exposure. Many of these employees are very young, faced with challenges no one has experienced yet. Many more are elderly, exposing their immune systems to a dangerous situation because they need the money. Everyone – in my experience anyway – is doing their level best to take care of customers and meet their needs.

On Friday, I watched a clerk who’d just turned 16 patiently ring up groceries for two coupon enthusiasts who thought it would be “interesting” to do their shopping at “such a crazy time.” These shoppers had two little kids with them – one very impatient and the other with the patience of a saint – and they bought so much stuff that one of them needed to call another friend to come with a backup vehicle. A couple of the coupons didn’t match the products being purchased, which one shopper thought was “unfair,” and a manager had to come over to help out. 

The young dude behind the counter handled the whole thing with the sort of quiet grace Buddhist monks hope to achieve late in life. I complimented him on how well he was doing his job, and he thanked me. He’d been on shift for only two hours, he told me, and he was feeling stressed out. He wasn’t sure if there’d be school next week, except for going on Monday to get homework packets, and he was worried because he’s a junior and wants to get into a good college.

Saturday afternoon my daughter had a shift at her store. Friday there had been “busier than Christmas,” according to one of the managers. My daughter was justifiably nervous about going in, but her bosses assured us that they were doing everything within their power to keep a clean, safe environment for customers and employees. Wiping down keypads and checkouts every few minutes, making hand sanitizer available. Providing the option of wearing latex gloves. It was reassuring to both my daughter and me.

She texted at the end of her shift on Saturday to say she’d be working late, helping to stock a shipment of much-needed toilet paper that came in. She could have said no and come home. Put she put in the extra mile. By yesterday afternoon, the store was out of toilet paper again.

There’s a lot of going-the-extra-mile happening around the country and the world right now. People whose job it is to be in service to others, being of even more service to others.

Curbside delivery of groceries and other goods for those who don’t want to go into stores. Stores setting aside special time for the elderly and disabled to shop without the wild atmosphere that grocery shopping has become. Store employees just keeping an extra watchful eye out for those who need a hand in scary times.

Big ups to retail and grocery store employees.

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