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Frustrations with Inconsiderate People

In response to a Tweet asking people what’s something they learned in the last year that will stick with them for the rest of their life, someone wrote, “There are two types of people: those who believe in doing what’s best for everyone even if it means personal sacrifice, and those who see their own inconvenience as unacceptable no matter what.” As a retail worker, I’m inclined to agree. Retail is already an environment that is quite accustomed to entitled people testing how much of an asshole they can be or how far they can bend the rules to their whims and get away with it. A pandemic has not changed this—only the way those same people have behaved.

We constantly come across people who refuse to take basic precautions against Covid. This is not purely based on assumption as some have willingly and proudly admitted they do so because they somehow believe complying interferes with their freedoms or it means living in fear or that preventative measures are a means to control people—in spite of the fact we’re already not able to do everything freely because this pandemic has gotten so out of control.

Throughout this whole pandemic, I’ve seen customers coming in with a horrid cough or breathing difficulties despite recommendations to stay home if you show symptoms. Towards the beginning of the pandemic when people were still insanely panicked and learning how the virus is spread, a presumably Bible thumping customer thought it was appropriate to anonymously leave a Covid-themed religious pamphlet on our freshly sanitized counter, which we had to promptly re-sanitize after throwing the pamphlet away. At the height of the pandemic, entire families—we’re talking two parents, kids, and sometimes grandparents—were coming in and leaving with a small amount of non-essential items (if they bought anything) when it was recommended repeatedly that only one person from the household does the shopping and only when it was absolutely necessary.

That first week customers were panic buying groceries, I recall one woman was chewing out a vendor over not having a particular flavor of canned soup. Most customers were understanding during the times we were either running out of things as soon as we got them in or when we were having Covid-related supplier issues, but some were so incredibly rude to us—like how dare we have problems ordering and getting in bread dough in to be able to make $1 Italian bread because the pandemic shut down factories.

While I was still working as a cake decorator when the state restricted social gatherings to ten people maximum, customers were still ordering large cakes for birthday parties. I never asked anyone why they were still having a large party during lock down and took orders like I normally would using that cheerful customer service voice, but that didn’t stop some customers from casually stating that they weren’t going to tell their small child that they couldn’t have a birthday party.

Every single day at work, I have to re-sanitize carts multiple times throughout the day because a customer touches several carts I have pulled out until they find one that rolls perfectly smooth and I have to fish used sanitizing wipes out of the carts even though we have a trashcan next to the sanitizing wipe dispenser.

There have been videos taken at various establishments of customers going absolutely ape shit because an employee told them to follow a Covid-related policy, usually about a mask policy.

There has been a particular opposition to face masks. The day it was announced that customers would have to wear a face mask in the store the following week, I had to listen to customers complain about the policy throughout my entire eight hour shift. Many online suggested faking a medical condition to get out of wearing one. Not that it matters much anyways because the company decided to let people come in without a face mask shortly after, defeating the purpose of having a mandatory face mask policy.

We have had customers tell us out of the blue they refuse to wear a face mask for various reasons like “Masks are for sick people”, “Masks don’t keep dust out so how is it supposed to keep out a virus?”, “You don’t need to wear face masks. It’s just like the flu”, etc. Yet at the beginning of the pandemic before the employees of the store were required to wear them, many were asking why the store didn’t have a mandatory face mask policy for employees.

I distinctly remember one particularly grouchy old man who wore a disposable face mask that had a huge hole cut out of it to expose his entire mouth. Another customer thanked us for wearing face coverings and sanitizing carts while her own face mask was sticking out her back pocket instead of on her face. We’ve had customers throw their used masks in carts or in the parking lot.  

The day I found out the convention I go to every year was canceled for the second year in a row due to Covid, right at the start of my usual shift at the doors, this middle aged woman came in with her face mask in hand and curtly asked if we require face masks. Technically, we have required customers to wear face masks since last summer, but we were also instructed not to bar customers that refuse to wear one from entering the store. To avoid confusion, I’ve been telling customers who ask if they are required to wear a face mask, “We would prefer if you wear one if you are able to.” Most of the time, the customer will put on a face mask. This lady, however, put her mask back in her purse and walked into the store happy that she didn’t have to wear a face mask. Since then, I’ve had several customers either holding their mask or wearing their mask on their chin ask me if masks are mandatory and put them in their pocket or purse upon being told wearing one is more or less optional.

After a year of dealing with and being frustrated by the actions of irresponsible people during a pandemic that has canceled things I enjoy doing and helps with my mental health issues, this moment with a customer who was fully prepared to put on a facemask if our policy on face masks was stricter temporarily broke how my fucking brain works. I think I was pushed to this breaking point where some of my anxiety went “Fuck this!” and tapped out for a bit. I basically snapped, but instead of suddenly going crazy I became a somewhat normal person who doesn’t constantly worry about being a nuisance to people thanks to anxiety coupled with autism and the lingering effects of emotional/mental abuse. For the next couple days, I had a box of the face masks we have for customers in my hand, greeted every customer who didn’t have one on with the overbearing enthusiasm of Pinkie Pie, and did not give a fuck if I was being annoying. Surprisingly, more people without masks were taking face masks from the box when I did this.

On top of all this, I had to watch my friend’s mom waste away painfully on her death bed knowing she may have had a chance to live if her catching Covid hadn’t delayed her biopsy and a possible treatment plan until she was beyond the point of survival. I also had to miss her funeral as we were in household quarantine following my husband’s positive test results (we suspect I also had it and had a false negative). After Jess died, I found it even harder not to get angry when people would tell me they refuse to wear a mask or get the vaccine.

While I don’t think every person who walks in without putting on a mask is a selfish dick wad, I’ll admit it can be difficult not to immediately jump to that conclusion due to the rather sizeable chunk of people I’ve had to deal with in the past year that have behaved so inconsiderately in regards to this virus. It’s already frustrating not being able to enjoy some things that alleviate my mental health because this pandemic has fucked up everything (with good reason), but it’s even more frustrating feeling like those things I enjoy are being sacrificed partly because of people who think they are being patriotic or fearless by not following any precautions that are in place for the sake of their and the public’s safety.

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