The thing that’s on everyone’s minds right now is the coronavirus or COVID-19. So, what does this mean to me? I work at a pharmacy — the retail side of it — and I come in contact with a lot of people, many of whom are sick. You would think that my major concern would be getting sick. It’s not. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a concern. I’m not one of those people who thinks that the coronavirus is a big joke. Getting sick is just not #1 on my list of concerns (however, it is #2). I soak up emotions like a sponge. Meaning, if I am around someone who’s happy, I‘m all good. If I’m talking to someone whose angry, I start to feel mad as well. Even if they are masking it, someone who’s depressed can cause me to be sad. I’m able to experience how they feel to some degree. Now, to what degree that is? I don’t know. There’s a word for this, of course. It’s empathy. So, back to my happy person; they’re happy… I’m happy… All is right with the world. On a normal day, this is what my experience with most of my customers is like. Life is good. However, you throw a global pandemic into the mix and my, once gleeful, patrons can become panic-ridden monsters. This is where my special ability kicks in. Whether they‘re outwardly showing it or not, there is this undertone of anxiety that makes my work days very hard. I don’t feel it at home. My family is just trying to make the best of the situation. My days off are spent playing with the huskies, laughing at memes on Facebook and Twitter and spending as much time with my family as I can. All is well in my world. Thrust me back out into the “real world,” where people are upset that we’ve been out of toilet paper for almost two weeks, irate that we don’t have any rubbing alcohol, and “What do you mean you don’t have any Tylenol??? This is a drug store…” A world where that undertone of panic keeps getting more and more pronounced… Well, my anxiety just sky rockets. I get the shakes and have even broken down into tears a few times. My #1 concern is how long I’ll be able to make it at work.
My point in telling this is two-fold. First, to all those frustrated and scared consumers out there; your “essential” workers have a great deal of pressure on them right now. I know that it’s extremely stressful when you’re just trying to meet your everyday needs and you can’t do that because the panic has caused some to take more than they should, but don’t take it out on the poor person who has the daunting task of explaining that they don’t have what you need. Second, to the overworked and under-appreciated “essential” workers out there; You’re doing a great job of holding up the front lines, but when someone does snap over circumstances beyond your control, keep your composure and practice some understanding. Believe me when I say that there’s a great deal of fear behind their anger. I’m not saying that it excuses it, but the feeling of desperation can cause a person to act in the extreme. I believe that in our current situation, desperate times call for deep compassion.