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)

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.

Letters to the editor

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Firefighters from three departments battled a house fire south of Nanaimo for more than nine hours Sunday. (Photo courtesy Martin Leduc)
Home destroyed by fire south of Nanaimo

Firefighters from three fire departments battle blaze fanned by strong southerly winds on Sunday

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared over at Eden Gardens. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Nanaimo’s Eden Gardens

One staff member and one resident tested positive for the virus over past two weeks

Gabriola Island poet Naomi Beth Wakan’s latest book is ‘Wind on the Heath.’ (Photo courtesy Elias Wakan)
Former Nanaimo poet laureate revisits past poems in latest collection

Gabriola Island’s Naomi Beth Wakan presents career-spanning ‘Wind on the Heath’

An app available through the Vancouver Island Regional Library’s website can help students during COVID times. (Stock photo)
New library app can help families with online learning

Sample tests, virtual flashcards available through Vancouver Island Regional Library’s website

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in hit-and-run

Investigation into death expected to be lengthy and involved

Most Read