A Thank You to Essential Workers In This Pandemic

I am a privileged young person— I spend my days at home, do essentially nothing and don’t go out all. Normally that sounds depressing, but in the midst of a pandemic, the Coronavirus, that is killing thousands of people worldwide, that is a blessing. With that, I want to thank the people who have put their lives put at risk and for all of those who are doing their part to flatten the curve of COVID-19.

Coronavirus

Doctors, Nurses, and all health care workers

That is a given. Every day our healthcare workers are out saving even more lives, and, worse, putting themselves at risk of getting the deadly disease. I see videos of health workers pleading for more supplies, rest, and safer conditions. I see news articles of those same health workers getting infected and some even dying. 

My cousin is a nurse in a local hospital and she has used the following words to describe her experience: “It’s unnerving and surreal. Everyone is wearing masks and goggles that fog up. We don’t recognize each other very well by sight; we can’t see each other’s faces. We listen for voices. The unknown of this virus is scary, but we are learning something new hourly. We are hot. The gowns don’t breathe. We get crabby. We aren’t scared of the virus itself. We deal with dangerous stuff all of the time. We are scared of not having the proper protection to keep us safe, so we don’t get our families sick. Most of us knew this was coming. We knew we weren’t prepared. The “business” people of the hospital didn’t care. They can work us short-staffed, exhausted with the bare minimum and we will do it. We took an oath. They know that we won’t walk away. That said- my faith in humanity is restored. The outpouring of community support is overwhelming. Whether it’s the anonymous free pizzas, subs, soda, and snacks sent to us or the letters written by the elementary children that tell us how proud they are of us and how brave we are, or the sidewalk chalk drawings in front of the hospitals calling us heroes; we feel the love. It keeps us going back for more. I am also proud to call the Froedtert staff my family. We are in this together. The camaraderie is awesome; like a secret club.”

My aunt who also works in healthcare adds: “[I’m] grateful. Honored to be able to be there if needed either answering the phone and the patient is relieved to hear your voice. It’s nice that something as simple as that can make the patient more at ease….I have never been afraid to work during this time. It’s more like, of course. Where else would I be?” 

Honestly, it’s pretty difficult to articulate something after hearing my cousin and aunt’s testimony...I’m a little speechless. While I am safe, my family members are not. And I’m not being dramatic— I’m being honest. Reading what my cousin and aunt have to say makes me so proud of them and for every health worker. So thank you. You are saving lives and continuing to help sick people while potentially exposing yourself. 

coronavirus medical gear

Grocery store and general store workers

We might have looked down at these workers or not given them much thought, but this pandemic has completely changed my perspective. Store employees are under extremely stressful conditions and demands in order to meet their customers’ needs. Rules and regulations are changing, and again, there is a fear of obtaining Coronavirus. My friend who works at a grocery store says, “It’s very chaotic and customers don’t understand what the workers are dealing with.” 

My uncle works in a grocery store up in Door County and he views his job as if it’s every other day: “I show up to work with a smile on my face and do the same things [prior to the pandemic], working with people. I will say that people are getting a little edgier each day. Many of our customers are 60 years old or older, so it’s about keeping them and everyone calm.” 

Thank you to my friend, uncle and people across the nation working at grocery stores. It’s a job that in all honesty, I didn’t think I was going to thank, but these people are stressed and are interacting with stressful customers under stressful conditions. It has to be hard going to work, not knowing what to expect and to have demands net, so with that, thank you. 

a grocery store produce wall

Restaurant employees 

Finally, there have been so many restaurants that were closed due to this pandemic, and my heart hurts. For the restaurants that are open, hours have been cut back, new stresses arise as managers are changing their operations and the threat of shutting down persists. I work at a bakery, Cranky Als, and I know that hours have been back and it was a struggle, in the beginning, to adjust to the changes that were made. 

My co-worker gave her perspective: “It’s both extremely stressful and also a lot less stressful than it used to be. There’s a lot less people coming in, so there aren’t any huge rushes anymore, which is nice. But there’s also a lot more just general anxiety all the time. We’re constantly cleaning everything and switching our gloves and are just generally very aware of the people around us. Also, interestingly, this pandemic has made people a lot nicer. Like the people that come in are genuinely concerned about how we’re all doing as employees, and we’re concerned for them. A lot of people have been thanking us for working and for still being open during this time which has been nice to hear.” 

Honestly, if I were working at Cranky Als right now, I’d probably be a little on edge and my family wouldn’t like that. So thank you, employees, of Cranky Als and all of the restaurants that remain open during the pandemic. Your work is noticed and it is nice to get take out...it’s the least that we can do. 

a bakery counter in a grocery store. a man stands behind it, facing away from the camera. A nurse who is a mother of three kids, two college students, and a retired, committed man are some people in my life who are working during the Coronavirus. I don’t see fear in them, just people wanting to do the jobs.  However, it’s still important to thank them, as these situations are far from normal. As my cousin said, “We are there to help. All of us. No matter the cost.” And those are words that are inspiring and make me feel extremely blessed for those putting their lives at risk working.