People need to be kinder to retail and restaurant workers, especially during a pandemic. Retail and restaurant workers are working in a risky environment right now. They come into contact with a lot of different people each day which increases their chances of being exposed to COVID-19. People should be grateful restaurants and retail stores are open to the public again so they have something to do.
I’ve worked in many retail jobs since I’ve been of working age and having to deal with difficult customers is the one thing all these jobs have in common.
I started a new job this summer at a beauty supply store, where I sell hair care products and other beauty supplies to your average customer as well as to licensed professionals. In the midst of a pandemic, you’d think people would try to be nicer to workers when they go out to shop, but you’d be wrong.
Since stores and restaurants have reopened, being a waiter or sales associate has become increasingly stressful. This is in part due to customers not adhering to the social distancing and mask regulations.
According to the Washington Post, retail workers are being pulled into a culture war by people who aren’t willing to wear masks. Not only do retail workers have to remind customers that they are required to wear a mask in their store, they also have to constantly remind people how to wear them correctly. They also get yelled at if the customer believes they have the right to not wear a mask in the store.
Additionally, some customers will intentionally show up without a mask and expect the store to provide one for them. While it is nice that some places do that, it is absolutely not anyone’s job to provide you with a mask.
According to a press release issued by Gov. Jay Inslee, it became mandatory to wear a mask in all public indoor spaces on June 26. On July 2, Inslee extended this mandate by requiring businesses to require their employees and customers to wear masks. Nowhere in this mandate does it say the business has to provide masks to customers. It is now October, so this mandate has been in effect four months, meaning you should have a mask by now. If not, that is your problem. Come back when you have a mask.
I’ve had customers pretend they don’t have a mask and then when I tell them we don’t give out free masks at my store, they’ll pull one out of their bag. What is the point of that?
Another issue that has become increasingly difficult, particularly for retail workers, is keeping shelves stocked. At the beginning of the pandemic, people began panic buying necessary as well as unnecessary items. Then when some manufacturers shut down, these items were no longer rolling into stores.
Now that things have reopened, manufacturers are having to catch up to the high demand of their products, and in many cases they’re not replenishing them quickly enough.
For instance, in the store I work at, many people come in looking for hair color or toner, but we are having trouble keeping it restocked. Our store is only getting one-third of our usual shipment, so we are not getting all the items we would normally get or in the same amount. This makes keeping up with customer demand difficult because we are often out of stock of the highly demanded products. Then customers get angry that we are out of stock of these items as if it’s under our control.
A problem impacting servers is people not wearing their masks when they’re not eating. The rule at most restaurants is to wear your mask when you’re not eating. Instead, people get to their table and take their mask off immediately. This puts servers at a higher risk because people are talking to them maskless.
People are also resorting back to their poor tipping ways. According to an Eater article written in May, when the pandemic first began, customers tipped their servers more generously. However, the longer it goes on, people start reverting to their old tipping habits.
I don’t at all believe servers are entitled to a tip if they give you terrible service in normal circumstances, but these aren’t normal circumstances. Restaurant workers have been working nonstop during the pandemic, making and delivering food because they’re essential workers. Their work should be appreciated. If you say you can’t leave a tip because these are difficult times, then maybe you should eat at home.
The next time you think about going out to eat or going shopping for the perfect fall outfit, you should think about whether you’re going to abide by the business’s rules. If not, stay home. Additionally, if you’re going to get upset over something the pandemic caused and workers have no control over, stay home… The Observer