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OP-ED: Be Kind To Your Essential Workers

By: Samantha Galvez-Montiel

 The pandemic has affected businesses, social lives, and the mental health of others. Unfortunately, as a result of this added stress in our daily lives, there has been a number of people who might not prioritize treating one another with respect. it’s important for us to think about how we can better support one another and treat others with kindness — especially essential workers and those in the service industry. 

Workers such as Sadia Rahman who is a junior at Queens College studying psychology and a manager at Petco, have voiced the common struggles as an essential worker during this pandemic. “The pandemic has changed the face of working pet retail forever, we no longer can have intimate conversations with our guests, lost essential support for our pets like dog training, veterinary services, and grooming,” Rahman stated. 

“I have gone home stressed and anxious every day hoping I don’t unknowingly spread COVID-19 to my family, working the frontline to provide, as a manager, I couldn’t avoid missing work and had to remain calm and reassuring in the face of extreme uncertainty for my fellow employees,” added Rahman.

The employees who clean buildings and stock grocery stores are now the workers keeping our economy alive. But this group is more likely to come into contact with Covid-19 because they cannot work from home, and there are a number of them that unfortunately encounter customers who might be displaying their feelings in a way that comes across as rude, angry or disgruntled.

As a pharmacy technician who works in a supermarket, I’ve had my fair share of interaction with customers who believe masks are the most inconvenient thing in the world. All throughout social media, we see other essential workers get treated worse whether it being spit on or yelled at for a mandated mask store policy. 

Vox wrote an article covering the struggle essential workers have to go through during this pandemic while dealing with public mistreatment. They stated how a social worker in Queens stated how she thinks one-third of her department was out sick, largely due to Covid-19. The day before Vox spoke with her, a nursing manager had snuck her downstairs and disguised her as a nurse so she could get a N95 mask. She’s struggling to find child care for her kids.

The coronavirus crisis has exposed many ugly truths about how underrecognized and underappreciated essential workers are, not just during a pandemic but on a daily basis. Please remember to be kind to your essential workers because they are risking their lives every day to provide service for you while still going through the daily struggles that the pandemic has brought upon us. Let’s be supportive of all the hardworking people who put themselves at risk each day to help others.

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