Hello, readers (yes, I know there’s probably no-one out there now!). With the current situation, we find ourselves with more time on our hands than ever, having to stay inside save for work, shopping and exercise. With this in mind, we are hoping to create more blog posts soon when we have suitable topics to write about.
I am a key worker, having worked for my local Co-op for some time now, and am continuing to go to work during the lockdown. In the main, people have been very understanding about the lack of stock and our observation of social distancing, and our team is still pretty upbeat (we have a laugh while getting the work done), but there are times when it can still be quite stressful. I will say that I am so happy and relieved to be working in such a supportive environment right now – management is very understanding about my various health conditions and the limitations that I have, and I feel totally at ease with everyone I work with. We have been getting regular updates from our area manager on WhatsApp, and also on our Shifts website, and we are feeling valued for what we do. We are also getting little bonuses for working through this time, which is a huge thing for me.
Life in-store is… weird at the moment. As I say, we are observing social distancing, meaning we can only have five customers in the shop at any time. At one stage on Saturday, there was twice the number of staff than customers! We have been taking on temporary workers to help with stocking and serving; personally, I hope we can take some on permanently, as they have been excellent in helping keep the store running. We’ve also had protective screens installed at the tills (we have no self-service tills, which I’m quite glad about, as it helps keep us in jobs!); the only bugbear I have with these is it’s made it even harder for me to hear certain customers, a situation further complicated by the fact we wear headsets to communicate to colleagues, so I already have one “deaf” ear. On the whole, though, so far so good.
I work Wednesday and Saturday evenings, when we receive our ambient deliveries – we have been having supply problems and deliveries arriving late, which is probably understandable as we try to keep up with demand. We are closing the store at points so we can catch up with deliveries, and at the moment we close at 8 pm instead of our usual 10 pm. Evenings have been fairly quiet after about 5 pm, and the five customer rule has helped that – as an introvert, I’d like to request we keep a five-person rule after this has all finished as well!
In many respects, our work is about the only social contact we have at this time, and we all work well as a team, especially as we joke about while working. I think customers kind of catch on to our positive attitudes (though don’t get me wrong, we’re knackered by the end of the night) and virtually everyone has been very understanding, almost cheerfully resigned, about the fact we don’t often have what they want at the moment. You do get some people who won’t take no for an answer, but we have the full support of our manager in times of trouble. The vast majority of people are absolutely fine, though, some even going to the trouble of giving us extra thanks for what we are doing. A lady even called us “heroes” the other day!
I am so grateful for being given a chance at a permanent job, both at my previous store and my current one. It is difficult for autistic people to both obtain and retain employment, but I have been given the chance to prove myself, and again, so far so good. I enjoy what I do (unless there’s a queue of, say, twelve people at the till, which can cause me to have the odd meltdown), and I really like my colleagues and managers. I’m a good deal older than most people I work with, which once upon a time I would have found awkward, but I feel I can relate to everyone quite well despite my age (I’m emotionally younger than my physical age anyway).
Support your local Co-op, guys 🙂