• Ailish Parr

An open letter to grocery shop employees

Dear grocery shop employees,

Firstly, thank you. Secondly, sorry.

On behalf of all shoppers everywhere – I am sorry. The rest of us watch the viral videos; we see the panicked news reports. We have a chance to switch off from the panic, to switch off from the anxiety. We have the chance to work from home. We have the chance to avoid the chaos. You guys don’t.

Your livelihood means you are exposed to the social craziness that has come with the Coronavirus Pandemic. In a time of such unknown, you are being expected to have a lot of answers: when will the toilet paper be restocked? Why can’t I get hand sanitiser? Where is the fresh meat?

I just want you to know that most of us empathise. We know you’re just trying to do your job. All you are trying to do is make a livelihood in this time of uncertainty. You’re not supposed to have all the answers. Leaders of countries don’t even have the answers. No one does.

I feel like we are living in a parallel universe. One moment things were normal: there are cars on the road filled with people going about their daily lives. In the next few seconds, your eyes sway from the road and you see a snaking line outside the Salvation Army, or people stockpiling frozen food in their grocery trolley. After we choose to switch off for the day, there are only subtle reminders of this pandemic. But for you, this is your world – day in day out.

At first, the viral videos of people fighting over diminishing supplies were entertaining. They provided laughter in a situation that didn’t yet feel serious (or real). Stockpiling toilet paper? Buying bulk hand sanitiser? Loading your trolley full of pasta? It sounded crazy only a few weeks ago, but not so much now. What provided instant entertainment has now raised a genuine concern, and you are in the direct firing line. For that, I am sorry.

Lately, I have come to realise that you are vital to getting through this pandemic.

Right now, you are making the world go around. You are working tirelessly to restock and are being so apologetic about why certain items are no longer available. You are monitoring supply levels to ensure everyone can gain access to what is available. Just recently, it was reported that workers have had to instruct customers to not abuse the staff at your stores.

What has this world come to? Have people forgotten you are humans too? You also have family to go home to, to provide for and to be concerned about. Your anxiety around this pandemic is just as valid as the shoppers you encounter every day.

No matter the circumstances. No matter the situation. People are people, and there is no excuse for the way some of us have treated you during this time.

This situation has made me so much more aware. I know you appreciate a ‘thank you’ – these small words of gratitude go a long way. Please know there are people out there who appreciate what you’re doing. You don’t have to put up with abuse. We are thankful and we are sorry.


A millennial who has your back.

Ailish (eyelish) is never happy just sitting still, loves Audrey Hepburn, and is obsessed with Australian Story. She always makes time for coffee and socialising.

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