Customer service workers aren’t trying to embarrass anyone, they’re just asking people to respect health and safety guidelines, says letter writer. (Stock photo)

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Help keep customer service workers safe

Remember that people asking you to respect health guidelines are still people, says retail worker

To the editor,

I work in a popular retail store in a popular shopping location. Statistically speaking, I’ve probably served you before. I am a person, just like you are. I loved my job because it gave me contact with the wonderful people who live in this beautiful town. And then the world changed.

The rules we have all lived by all our lives are suddenly different. We’re wearing sweaty masks, we have to follow arrows while we shop that take us on circuitous routes, we all smell like cheap liquor from using sanitizer. We aren’t hugging or shaking hands or leaning close to share a quiet word. We feel separated from one another.

You know that I am afraid because when you come to my store I ask you to sanitize and I remind you follow the arrows. I understand why that made you mad, because nobody likes to be embarrassed, and nobody likes to be in the wrong. I don’t think you ignored the signs or behaved unhygienically to be rude or to threaten my safety, but I do think that when you forget it is important that I be able to remind you. We are all in this together, after all.

I have been shouted at and sworn at by adults for following safety protocols. I have been told that I deserve to get COVID and die because I directed people to the arrows on the floor. I have been reported and reprimanded for asking nicely that customers clean their hands.

What you don’t know is that while I am younger and look healthy, I am in a very dangerous position against this virus. My four-year-old is extremely high risk; he has severe respiratory problems. His father is immunocompromised. When I firmly tell you that I need six feet of clearance, I ask that you please weigh your annoyance against my fear for the lives of my family.

I ask that you be better. I ask you to be accountable. I ask that you be brave through all of this and consider the needs of others.

Please remember that the people directing you to respect health and safety guidelines are still people. They are human beings with lives and fears who are often just doing as they are told, and please remember that they are trying to protect you too, even if you don’t agree with the methods they use.

We are there, at the front doors and the aisles and the cash registers, to serve our community because we love you all. Love us back. Be kind.

A. Howald, Nanaimo


The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.

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