Working During COVID

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In desperate times, learning to adapt is crucial. Modifying the workplace to fit the needs of customers was a struggle for many businesses before the pandemic. 

After last semester moved to remote learning, I picked up some shifts at my summer job; a seafood market in Old Saybrook, CT. The market made many drastic changes to ensure the safety of our patrons and employees, the biggest of which was prohibiting any customers within the store.

This was a tough decision my employers had to make because customers would not be able to see the fish that they would be buying. We knew some conflict was going to arise. Maintaining the trust with our regulars and ensuring new customers would come back was something we had to work even harder for. It was important to give every customer a nice fillet that was not only cut well, but also presented beautifully. 

Every morning we set up our farmers market with tables full of fresh vegetables, a raw bar (mussels & clams) on ice, our classic breads, seasonings and almost everything else, besides the fish. We spent many hours throughout the summer setting up in the morning and breaking down at the end of the day.

Fresh lobster rolls were prepared daily and would be placed on ice for customers to buy. They brought in an incredible amount of patrons. Understanding the changes would cause some problems with customers but we did that we could to keep the customers satisfied. 

 As employees, we were required to wear masks at all times but the market is a tight squeeze, so we had to try to put as much distance between one another as possible. This took some getting used to, but safety was our top priority. The most common question we got by customers was, “When will we be able to enter the store?”

This was always tough to answer because we never had a set date. As I said before, the store is on the smaller side and with how busy we get, it wasn’t safe to allow customers inside. We would often get disappointed looks or people who would say it was “bullshit.” Doing our best to be considerate, we would apologize about the inconvenience even though it was out of our control. 

Trying to find respectful ways to enforce store rules regarding COVID was a handful. There had been multiple times when I was outside taking orders from people not wearing masks. I would mention that we would not serve them unless a mask or face shield was worn. Most people’s excuse was that it was in their car. Our parking lot is not very big, but they would always ask if they could place their order and then go and get it. 

This would drive me up the wall.

Almost everyone who “forgot” their masks, were parked right next to our tent. I understand the inconvenience of getting out of line to get a mask and having to get back in at the end, but we were just trying to keep everyone safe. Working with the virus was obviously not easy but I found out that, even during a pandemic, it’s hard to get people to respect store rules and guidelines.

Working at the market does have it’s highlights though; I get to work with my best friend (who happens to be my manager) and I get to make relationships with new coworkers. Even though ridiculous customers who order a pound of fish and want it cut into insanely small pieces get on our nerves, we do what we can to make the day fun.

Working with COVID made me appreciate others who work during this time. I try my best to be polite and do what I can as a customer in other stores to make the workers’ job more enjoyable. 

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Hi I'm Rachel Senechal. I'm from small town in Connecticut and I am a senior here at NEC. I am a part of the NEC Softball team. I enjoy spending my time taking pictures with friends and staying active. I usually write about what's on my mind or what is important to me.
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