Coronavirus Affecting Workers Little by Little


Mercedes Manners, Staff Writer

At the beginning of what we never thought we would call a pandemic, I was just a junior in high school working at a local restaurant. At first, like other workers whether they’re full or part time, I received a warning that a new virus was going on and we had to make sure to be washing our hands before we clocked in. 

About a week later, I walked in to hear my manager addressing that it was way more than a simple virus and the country was probably going to pause for a bit. This all seemed crazy to me, wrapping my head around no school and no work, which I thought was an impossible reach. 

Many students were excited when the teachers started telling us to bring our books home, as we would have a short break. We all happily rushed out, not having to worry about the stress of school for a while. 

It was nice as a teenager to finally have that lift of stress and responsibility, until we got another call. When the principal eventually announced school would no longer return and the three month summer turned into a bit more time, reality started to kick in. 

Not only students, but everyone, took a step back and realized this wasn’t just a short break and it was a world that was changing. 

People are dying without family by their sides, masks are to be on at all times, medical supplies are not reaching capacity, different age groups and people with different immune system levels are staying inside and away from others, hanging out with friends is no longer the same, workplaces are being shut down and people can’t afford to buy meals, some items at the grocery store are no longer reachable, and going out of your home is starting to be scary. 

This was the start of our new beginning, in which the whole entire world is still trying to overcome.

A month or two after restaurants were shut down, I got a call back from work that we were going to start getting people back in the building to prepare for what we hope a little bit of society back. When I went in for my first shift after a couple of months, it was weird to see the restaurant empty, in which the only outlet for food was takeout for those who aren’t able to cook at any given time. 

We discussed getting new menus, which would be disposable to ensure safety to our customers, as well as several safety measures that were to be done several times a day. We thought of this as a few little changes, but the world as a whole didn’t know what was coming next. 

The pandemic continues to change and alter the lives around us everyday and we should expect no less. Something that seemed so minor proved to us that all it takes is a little step to become something so widespread. 

Who would have thought that wiping down menus would outstretch to printing thousands of paper menus everyday? Who would have thought the most popular items on the menu would be no longer served due to limited produce? Businesses that strived to reach max capacity and create a waiting list are now exhausted from hearing angry and upset customers preach their claim of not being able to eat anywhere due to only seating a small fraction of usual customers. People are so anxious to get back to a regular routine while others tremble at the thought of eating without a mask that they forget about the people trying to fulfill their needs. Workers, especially as a teen, are scared to have contact with so many people due to the fear of bringing it home. 

No one knew why people got it, who it targeted the most, or if it was deadlier to only people with weaker immune systems. There were several different theories that are still not solved and as much as I agree the world shouldn’t completely stop, precautions need to continue to be held in place. 

During this time, I was transitioning from my old job to my current, at American Eagle at Westmoreland mall. The mall was just opening back up again so I entered my new job inexperienced and nervous. My new work environment placed several rules that make sure not only our customers were safe, but also all of our coworkers on our team. My coworkers helped me get settled in, just as I have been doing to the several obstacles that have been thrown during COVID. 

Our closing team spends an extra hour making sure the store is properly disinfected and safely ready to open the next day. We disinfect everything the customers touch before and after use when they’re purchasing an item. We safely found a way to work around fitting rooms being closed, in which we make sure to fully disinfect the area as well as allowing customers to make sure the product they’re buying fits just right. We changed our max capacity to allow social distancing, and even though it upsets several people, this little impact can hopefully prevent the pandemic from becoming as bad as some we have seen throughout history. 

This is the world around us and, in reality, we’re showing more compassion than we could have with contact. In which, if you really think about it, we are taking these large and somewhat “crazy” precautions to ensure that the death rates and tragedies that our ancestors have witnessed in the past don’t occur to the people we love and care about around us today.