A Grocery Store Worker’s Call to Action Amid COVID-19 Outbreak


I want to start by saying it is a miracle that neither I nor anyone in my family has gotten sick. During this pandemic, my father is a healthcare worker, and I work at a small grocery store.

Almost every day, I come into contact with hundreds of people. Thank you to all of the customers who have worn masks and gloves even before it became law in New York. You are not only protecting yourselves, but you are protecting me, my coworkers, and everyone I ring up at the register.

But I need your help. Please stop leaving your gloves on the floor, in carts, and in our parking lot. Not only is it disrespectful, but it also endangers us. It is not my job to pick up your contaminated PPE. You are breaking the law and exposing the people who handle your food.

I cannot believe I am writing this, but if you have COVID-19, or if someone in your household has the virus, do not come to my store. Don’t even request a curbside pickup. Call a friend. Customers who have been open about their situations make me worry even more about those who are not. I am speaking for myself and all of the customers I serve, especially those who are high-risk. Do not endanger us.

And although I am not a nurse, I can tell you that if you eat chips with your gloved hands after paying me with cash, there is no point in wearing gloves. Please understand that while gloves offer a barrier of protection, you must be aware of everything you touch. So many of us touch our phones with our gloves. Then we answer calls and press our contaminated phones into our faces. Gloves will not save you unless you are careful.

Please be aware of your essential workers. I am lucky to be working toward a college degree, but most of the people in this field depend on their low pay to get by. They cannot afford to get sick. If they even have health insurance, it likely isn’t great. Keeping your distance and only shopping when it’s necessary will help protect them, and we must all help each other right now.