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COVID-19 from the Perspective of a ShopRite Employee

As battles against COVID-19 started in the United States, many turned their attention to grocery stores for essential supplies amid the fight against the “invisible enemy.” Even weeks before state-wide lockdowns were imposed, grocery stores across the nation started to run out of toilet paper, face masks, alcohol, hand sanitizer, and ibuprofen. Most of the shortage was due to fear and unnecessary hauntings.

Junior Michael Steiginga has been working for Shoprite for a little over a year. He usually works from 6 PM to 10 PM, where his boss has a list of things for him to get done. As an employee in a local grocery store in Wyckoff, Michael personally experienced the change that took place during the weeks of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The Current Situation

Afraid of catching the virus in a populated grocery store, many of Michael’s co-workers are not willing to work. However, the amount of things needing to be done remains the same. Since fewer people are working, Michael and his remaining colleagues need to get more things done in a limited time. On the bright side, Michael received a $2 raise.

Since the outbreak started, many shelves in ShopRite have been empty, especially those shelves that used to contain toilet paper, and essentially all paper products, hand sanitizers, and cleaning supplies. Since certain goods were in such high demand, restocking can not compete with the speed of consuming. The worst moments that Michael experienced are customer hostilities.

Costumer Hostilities

“When we restock toilet paper, which is in high demand, customers in the store will rush to us to get toilet paper--maybe even have a tug-of-war over a bag of toilet paper with other customers, yelling nasty words at each other,” says Michael. People show their selfish nature during a crisis with great uncertainty and fear. Worst of all, Michael can’t do anything about it in most cases as people disregard him as a 17-year-old high school employee at ShopRite.

“Since there is nothing I can do, I was told to immediately call the management when I see something and have them handle it,” adds Michael.

According to Michael, the outbreak is for sure impacting the way people shop in a grocery store as an increasing amount of people show up to ShopRite wearing a face mask and gloves. After people were no longer able to get hand sanitizers and alcohol from the store, they started going after laundry detergent and hand soaps. “It’s also very interesting to me that people are no longer buying organic foods which have always been popular in Wyckoff,” Michael remarks.

Michael's Comment on the Situation

Personally, Michael feels that a lot of the actions are not necessary and that people are taking proactive measures to an extreme. “I understand why this is all happening and it is important to take it seriously. But I do think people are blowing things out of proportion with this sense of apocalypse, the world is ending, and all that stuff,” says Michael.

I do think people are blowing things out of proportion with this sense of apocalypse, the world is ending, and all that stuff

He also pointed out that the way most people shop does not put themselves or others at risk since people are staying more than six feet apart from each other. While it is important to get all the essential commodities from the store, it is also important to spend as little time out as possible. Michael thinks people should live life as normal but go out as little as possible.

“One time, a mother was looking for ibuprofen for her son as he is having a huge headache,” says Michael, “I feel so bad because we didn’t have any as they were all hunted by other customers.”


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