OPINION: Being essential these days

OPINION: Being essential these days

By David Gomez Jr.
Published Monday, April 20, 2020

The coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, causes the disease COVID-19. The ‘rona, as some people are calling it, came fast and deadly. It added pressure to an already fragile economy.

At the front lines of keeping the economy afloat, other than the medical, grocery store clerks, farmers and janitorial staff who deserve so much praise, are also the other “essential” businesses.

I am currently one of those essential workers.

David Gomez Jr.

I work in a hardware store, yet it doesn’t feel essential. I recently went from a part-time to a full-time employee. Nowadays, the type of customers who come into the store are those tired of being at home. It used to be just the casual, usual handyperson customers. Now, they look around and “shop” for the things they need or other things because they found time for their DIY projects.

Though, I am torn down the middle. My first reaction is, “stay at home,” and my second thought is, “I’d go out anywhere if I were stuck in my home and couldn’t handle myself for days in a row doing nothing.”

Times are difficult and as much as we’d like to go out as it were before March 16, we cannot.

Working in an essential field, I feel grateful, but exhausted. Lines stretch out in front of the store. Asking an impatient customer to wait is like telling a river to stop flowing. Those kinds of people want to see you as miserable as they are, but the truth of the matter is that we are miserable, too. At least I know I am.

Tired. Exhausted. Running on three to five hours of sleep a day because college online classes make things even more tiresome. Lethargy sets in and I am suddenly behind. 

“Maybe things will be better if I quit my job,” I think to myself or, “leave The Bridge altogether. I mean, we’re almost at the end of the semester and have switched to online now. No one will read it.”

These are my thoughts when things get difficult. And they have been difficult, but it’s also the only way to show my true character. I don’t want to be known as a quitter.

When I was younger, I was known to give up on many things. I’m not like that anymore. The idea of dropping everything seems like a relief but I am my harshest critic who will criticize every decision ever made. I know for certain I will never forgive myself if I chose to drop it all.

This is not only a test of my own will, but to everyone who is essential and continues to work till their head is pounding. Requests by management to disinfect the area, keep a head count of customers inside the store, make sure I’m wearing protective gear, restock the new materials received, help customer with their needs and my personal favorite, short staffed because my coworker was exposed to the virus and might have it—so they will be quarantined until their results come in.

I wouldn’t wish this virus on my enemies but it all adds up, takes a toll and makes one quite agitated and frustrated.

This is a test of patience for everyone. And no one can cheat off someone else this time. Everyone must keep their head down and give it their all—even from a couch. Take care of yourselves and each other.


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