This week I will be writing thank you notes inspired during the solitude a pandemic brings.
Dear Grocery Store, Pharmacy Workers, and all Unseen Essential Workers,
Before I thank you for your selfless service during the Pandemic, I need to offer a sincere and profound apology. I barely noticed you until recently. I’m sorry for my ignorance, which clearly reflects the privileged life I have led. Although I worked as a cashier in the quick checkout aisle in the now-defunct First National grocery chain when I was in high school, I apparently learned very little about what it is like to be invisible in a job. Forced to think back now, I can remember the occasional abuse and rudeness of customers and the disgusting feel of the liquid that would get on my hands from packages chicken I had to pack in bags.
I admit I was terrified when I first went to the grocery store and my local CVS after fully comprehending how communicable the Coronavirus was. I wanted to dash into the store, grab my purchases, and checkout in minutes. I no longer sauntered up and down aisles exploring items I might incorporate into a recipe. I didn’t care about prices. Just give it to me and let me the hell out of this potential Petrie dish of a store.
But when I looked into your eyes above the masks you dutifully wore, I saw courage and I saw resignation. Working in a Petrie dish where you made sure I could purchase food and medicine was your job and you had no choice but to come to work and do it, even though you are grossly underpaid and underappreciated. What could be more important than to provide the essential products people needed to survive?
Stocking shelves, cleaning carriages, checking out items at the cash register when you know each person you encounter could infect you takes courage. You are not just essential workers because we need you; you are true public servants.
I am truly grateful for your service during the Pandemic. I promise that you will never be invisible to me again. I promise to pay attention and notice and be grateful for people like you whose contributions are immeasurable. Please stay well.
C. Michele Dorsey