Despite the global pandemic, students nationwide continue to work at various jobs alongside their studies to earn an income. The sudden change in the way business is conducted was jarring for everyone, and as we all became accustomed to the “new normal,” the number of responsibilities placed upon retail workers has increased dramatically.
As COVID-19 has spread, and lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and business regulations have been implemented, grocery store cashiers, fast food workers, and retail employees have all stepped up to do the best they can to protect the health of their customers. Senior Maggie Beal explained the changes she has experienced since she started working at Target.
“We have to wear masks, and we ask that the guests wear masks. We also wear gloves. When we clean, we have different cleaning procedures for different areas of the store,” said Beal. Beal, who started working at Target six months before the pandemic shut down our community, has managed to keep her job through hard work, dedication, and sacrifice—including voluntarily risking her own health and safety.
“I’ve had to deal with multiple people who either won’t wear a mask inside the store, or are very upset with our policies. I have been put in a position where I have had to check out a guest without a mask on multiple occasions. When another cashier is uncomfortable ringing up a guest that isn’t wearing a mask, I step in and check them out. It makes me very uncomfortable, but I would rather it be me that gets sick than somebody that might have susceptible friends or family,” explained Beal. Her selflessness is an exemplary example of the lengths that many workers have gone to in order to serve their community during these uncertain times.
While many workers have had to adapt to the present circumstances, others have seized the opportunity to earn money in creative ways. Senior Cameron Harding, has been working with a local family to be a tutor and babysitter for their three children.
“I’m there throughout the day to help with their [the children’s] studies as well as to supervise, and to make sure they’re not sneaking ice cream out of the freezer all day,” said Harding.
With both parents of the children needed at their full time jobs, and distance learning in full effect, Harding was called on to fulfill a new, niche need. The majority of schools in the Bay Area have long since transitioned to distance learning, increasing the demand for childcare workers, nannies, and babysitters. People like Harding have risen to the occasion, but it has proven difficult to stay safe in such close proximity to others. Harding is doing his best to keep everyone healthy, while helping the kids as best he can.
“We’ve been wearing masks when we’re inside. Trying to help them with homework while wearing a mask can be a little bit rough, especially working on assignments in other languages,” explained Harding. Despite the obvious difficulties that the coronavirus has imposed on childcare, Harding is well aware that his job is dependent on the current state of the world, virus included.
“This time of year, before Covid, sports were starting back up and I had way less time. School days are a lot longer when kids are physically in school, which means I wouldn’t have to be helping out as long, if at all. I don’t think I’d have this job in a world without Covid,” explained Harding.
Workers from all industries and pay grades are eager to live in a world without Covid, regardless of the economic impact it could have on them. Beal, who has jeopardized her health on multiple occasions, is especially ready to be on the other side of the pandemic.
“I hope that people listen to the rules that are in place. Once that happens, and more people get vaccinated, we’ll be able to get back to normal: the real normal, not the ‘new normal,’” said Beal. Even Harding, whose job relies on the pandemic, was quick to voice his hopes of a speedy recovery.
“I absolutely love the job I have. I don’t mind distance learning and the reduced school days. But at the same time, I would love to see people. I would love to finish my senior year with my classmates. I would love to be able to have a graduation, and to have a prom. And beyond that, there are thousands of people dying every day. There is no world in which I’m going to tell you that I wish Covid would stick around so I can keep a job. I think it’s been a disaster.”