Do You Have Any Toilet Paper Yet?

A grocery store employee’s perspective on quarantine

With school out of session and no end in sight, I needed something to keep me busy. When I saw a sign at Smith’s that said “Hiring Immediately!!!” I decided that it would be easy money and assumed it wouldn’t be too hard. 

Since being hired and working for two weeks, I have come to realize that it was anything but easy money. During my eight hour shifts I never went more than three minutes without a customer coming through my checkout lane. And when I say customer, I’m talking about crazy moms panic buying and preparing to hoard a couple years worth of canned goods and pasta. It was so interesting to see what customers bought in this time of uncertainty and it confused me a lot too. 

The most common items I saw were:

  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Pasta
  • Canned food

Now, I can understand buying those normally because everyone has needs, but if you are trying to buy twenty boxes of spaghetti and ten gallons of milk, I think you should take a long, hard, look at your life. Nobody needs such high quantities of these products, but apparently logic has been thrown by the wayside since the Coronavirus became so widespread. 

Bizarre and somewhat stupid purchases aside, the customers themselves are a sight to see. Many come through in pajamas, the official uniform of self-quarantine, and wear makeshift masks that muffle every word they say. Things are so different and new to us and yet it’s still the same routines of grocery shopping.

The grocery stores are one of the few places designated as essential by the governor and that means it’s one of the few places I get to see people. Honestly, if I wasn’t talking to so many different people every day, I’d probably go crazy in my house and become friends with the wall or something. 

But don’t get the wrong idea, Smith’s patrons are not always friendly. There’s always a feeling of tension in the air and I can tell when someone is getting annoyed. Sometimes it’s because I’m still getting trained and we’re spread a little thin, sometimes it’s because we didn’t have a certain product, and sometimes it’s because we won’t let them over shop on high demand products like toilet paper. I’ve witnessed a few meltdowns and it is not a pretty scene when adults are begging for yeast. 

Germs are a serious worry in Smith’s and employees do their best to sanitize everything but that can only do so much. They really are putting their health on the line to help out the rest of the community and in return, they get nine bucks an hour and yelled at by the now-common “Karens”. 

In crazy times like these, positivity and kindness can go a long way and it doesn’t help anything to have a bad attitude. So when you go to a grocery store next, do me a favor and thank the employees and try your best to be nice to them. Trust me, they need it.