Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic healthcare workers have been lauded, for doing their job. Okay so they didn’t sign up for a pandemic but they did sign up for sickness and risk, and they are trained professionals. I applaud them for the continued efforts, for not giving up, for going back into the field even when exhausted or after recovering from the virus themselves.
But supermarket staff? They didn’t sign up for anything dangerous. In South Africa they are not even paid a living wage. One supermarket chain pays its workers so badly it one 290 years to earn what her boss was paid in a month.
With the exception of some high-end stores, most shop assistants in this country are surly, rude, and not ever likely to do anything for you beyond roughly swiping your groceries along the scanner. Who can blame them for not being thrilled with their lot in life? What do they actually have to be happy about? Nothing. They work very long hours, earn peanuts, receive very little in the way of benefits, and most of them live so far from their place of work that they can easily spend 2 hours in disgusting dangerous public transport to reach their work. And when they get home there is no help for them to guide kids with homework, to prepare supper, to do the laundry, and in many instances to endure domestic violence.
They’ve worked throughout the pandemic so that we could have food and other consumables. Lucky for us, the people who work in the retail stores have continued to be there. I’m not referring to the owners of the stores, those who take the profit, but the poor sods who ring up your stuff and get nothing extra for working in a pandemic, except droplets of virus from the customers.
No-one clapped for them. No one arranged videos and public outpourings of gratitude.
How else would we have eaten for 10 months? Who stacked the shelves full of toilet paper that we suddenly needed in massive quantities? Who loaded and unloaded the delivery trucks and shelves and warehouses? Millions and millions of retail workers, that’s who!
Thank you to anyone who works in retail, especially those who come into contact with the public and their droplets and bad attitude. And a special thank you to those who were not always empowered by their companies to enforce the safety protocols to safeguard them.
Thank you to all supermarket staff, and especially my local surly ladies at Checkers!
Ending off as usual, with a link to my crowdfunding campaign. Thanks in advance for any contributions.