My Pandemic Story: A Grocery-Store Worker Who’s Working to Support Family, Despite the Health Risks

The longtime employee has a respiratory illness, but not going to work is not an option.

grocery-store worker

An anonymous grocery-store worker speaks up amid the coronavirus crisis.

Published as a part of the “This Is My Pandemic Story” article in the May issue of Philadelphia Magazine. Here, an anonymous grocery-store worker, shares their experience.

Starting in mid-march, it was like a snow scare that wouldn’t die. There were people with carts full of things they didn’t actually need. Things were slowing down, but on payday, it was crazy again.

I have a respiratory illness, and I go home to my small child who also has a respiratory illness, and I try to go to the market for my grandma, who lives near me. When I consider how many people I’m exposed to, I’m only bringing it home. The people who work in grocery stores are absolutely going to get it, because people can’t help but get close to you. But not going to work is not an option. I have to take care of my family. No matter how bad it gets, I have to go.

On the register, if you see a hundred customers a day, maybe two of them will say thank-you. Now that the supermarket has become life-sustaining, on Facebook, people are like, “Thank the grocery-store workers!” I would be satisfied with a genuine thank-you, especially when the store is really crazy.

We get overtime. They just implemented hazard pay, so everyone is making more per hour. I’m grateful, because something is better than nothing. My co-workers, we all understand that we’re in this together, so there’s been a lot more camaraderie. We’re constantly making jokes, laughing to keep from crying.

Published as part of the “This Is My Pandemic Story” feature in the May 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.