Diary of an “Essential Worker” (Entry #7): The New “Normal”


I keep forgetting that I should be on vacation right now.  We were going to head down to San Diego for Laurie’s B-day, catch a Giants game or two, and just have a mellow little road trip.   I probably could have taken the time – cheese is still solid on workers – but even though I haven’t had a vacation in a long time, it’s just not the right time to leave work. 

Yeah… not happening.

Day-to-day work things are continuing to normalize in the new normal that is defining our lives right now.  I feared that once the novelty wore off, people would start complaining about the lines, take their (valid but misdirected) frustrations out on us, make it harder for us to keep going but –while there has been a little of that – we’ve been spared the reactions that we’d expect if anything like this happened at a pre-March 2020 normal time.  “Normal” becomes relative pretty quickly, eh?

I am on an emergency committee at work and yesterday -– hopefully this won’t jinx it – we went 24 hours without texts/email for the first time since the committee was formed.  I really thought by now that we would have lost half our workers and be deciding whether we could keep our doors open.  We have talked contingencies for that and worse, but so far, so good.   Social distancing is working. I give a rare thanks to our elected officials for doing the right things at the right times in the Bay. Every time I talk to my friends in NY I think about how light we are getting off right now and I’m grateful, even as I am enraged and saddened at what is happening there.

In the first couple of weeks I was working pretty much every day and now I have settled into a 4 day a week, 10-12 day schedule.  But the days are getting closer to 10 hours now.  And yeah, I am doing some committee work at home on the other days, but not too much.  As I have said previously, I am glad I have a job, a paycheck coming in, and work at a democratic workplace.

This is just a randomly beautiful cheese rind here to break up the text.

We started requiring all workers to wear face-coverings last week (customers, you are next!) and it’s been killing me to read reports from other grocery workers where workers are being discouraged or prohibited by their management for doing the same.  While it sucks wearing a mask – oh, how many times I have already picked up cheese to smell it and realized I couldn’t! – it’s an obvious thing to do for the protection of “essential workers” and to prevent grocery workers being a vector in spreading the virus.

I wonder at times if it’s the right thing to do to keep working, and not being on vacation gave me another chance to reflect on that.  I think every single unexpectedly “essential worker” has had these thoughts.  Helping bring food to the community is crucial as well as morally important. So is doing what I can to support farmers and cheesemakers who might not make it through this shut down, economically-speaking. Still, every day I go to work I think of the number of people I am in contact with and the critical control points where I could be exposed. We are not healthcare providers or first responders — even if we are filling a need –these are fairly new thoughts to us. The saving grace for me is working at a place where I know that worker safety is important. I think if I worked at a different kind of place, coming in to work would be a lot harder. And I might well have taken that vacation even if it just meant staying home.

This week’s links:

Do you need help doing errands in San Francisco? Need something from Rainbow or elsewhere? Know someone who does?  Want to volunteer to help others. This is a great organization trying to put folks together.

Buy California Cheese online

Also, I am working on a cheese project at work.  Hopefully more details next week.

(Remember everyone, what I write are my own opinions and not necessarily the view of my other co-workers or the workplace as a whole.)

One response to “Diary of an “Essential Worker” (Entry #7): The New “Normal”

  1. Thanks to you and all the essential workers. You’re much appreciated!

    janet

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