By Rachel Garvey
Okay, let’s get one thing straight; remember the days when your alarm goes off and you’re lying there in bed thinking, “Oh great, another day another dollar, suppose I had better get up for work”? We had wished we could stay in bed all day and stay safe under the duvet from our stressed employers and the chaos of the outside world. However, there is a vast majority of people out there who have been impacted by the coronavirus; impacted in a way where they are now unemployed temporarily. But, for some, the period of unemployment will be longer for others. A staggering figure of 140,000 people have fallen victim to the COVID-19’s effect on workplaces, with many being able to now apply for job seekers’ allowance, but for some, they are able to work from home and for others, working from home isn’t possible, even when they wish it was. We have taken the whole process of going to work for granted and now we wish that we had a job to go to, even if it’s a job that we don’t particularly like, because, at the same time it pays the bills and puts some food on the table.
As a retail worker in a major supermarket, Tesco, my job has also been affected by having my hours cut. It is something I have no control over, but with a pandemic like this, everything seems to be out of our control until we pull together and gain the reigns back. The pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafés, and clothes retailers have all been closed down due to the announcement of Ireland’s lockdown to contain the virus before the situation becomes as bad as Italy. But, for retail workers in food chains, their workload becomes even heavier than normal. I’m grateful I still have my job, don’t get me wrong on that, but that doesn’t mean that it makes every morning getting out of bed easier.
Customers have been panic buying for the past few weeks, therefore creating these lonely looking empty shelves and it has created huge stress for workers. I was uprooted from my 3pm-10pm shift to a 10pm-7am shift where myself and three of my crew members worked around the clock to keep the shelves packed for the next load of customers to come in. I may not have lost my job, which is a massive overweight on 140,000 people’s shoulders, but for those of us who still work, we carry a burden of our own. Retail workers in the supermarkets, the army, the doctors and nurses are all sterling examples of people who are constantly working around the clock to make sure everyone is safe in the midst of this pandemic. Everyone has a specific role to play and now is not the time for anyone to forget their lines in this major scene. We must all have each other’s backs; we are merely like a body, each of us being an arm or a leg, a heart or a backbone.
There are a lot of family members and friends who have been subjected to isolation due to their job loss and that itself creates a burden on them. I’m the type of person who cares and worries about everyone and seeing the ones close to me suffer from something that is out of their control is heartbreaking, as they have families to provide for and rent and mortgages to pay. Words can sometimes mean something and can sometimes mean nothing to people, but I’ll say it anyway; if we abide by the HSE’s rules and self-isolate during this lockdown, then we are already setting ourselves up for a win, hopefully. That is a big hopefully, though, as we never truly know what is around the corner for us. But as much as it is difficult, we need to be able to keep a positive mindset. Cabin fever is today’s biggest employer, but I don’t think any of us want to apply to get a job there, so, let’s put cabin fever back into the category of where it truly belongs, back into the category of it being just another horror movie.