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  • Nora Comtois, Contributing Writer

Thank You to Essential Workers

Sometime in April after the “corona-craziness” calmed down a smidge, my mom and I went to Kroger. It was packed with people but felt like a ghost town because people were so spread out. While on the mission to pick up some groceries (fortunately already having enough toilet paper at home), I noticed that, although wearing masks, the grocery store workers looked stressed. Then it hit me: what sort of person wouldn’t be stressed when working eight or so hours a day in the middle of a pandemic while workers of non-essential businesses got the luxury of staying home on paid leave?

After waiting in line for who-knows-how-long, we were at the register. As always, my mom and I said “thank you” to the cash register before leaving. The worker may have not noticed, but there was a big difference between the normal “thank you” and mine. By thanking her at that moment, I really was saying all of this:

You’ve awakened with that morning sickness called Monday, but you’ve still rolled out of bed. As you’ve put on your uniform, you’ve pictured the lucky stay-homers wearing their pajamas 25/8. And when you've worn your mask—the must-do to protect your lungs from the virus—it ironically has felt as if you were suffocating. Maybe it’s not even from the cloth that has been covering your face but from the dire state of the world; either way, it’s been unbearable. Instead of singing the ABC song while washing your hands, it feels like you’ve been singing the ABC album; and having applied dozens of globs of hand sanitizer just makes it all seem like an overrated routine. You’ve bagged groceries of bulky pineapples, breakable cartons of eggs, and giant-sized cereal boxes or have rung up a million cards per second and counted a dozen pennies every millisecond or you’ve stocked shelves with brick-weighted boxes of soda cans and fragile bags of flour (which always seem to slip out of the hand and spill onto the floor) when you’d rather be at home snuggling with your pet. Throughout all of these struggles on top of a pandemic—thank you.

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