Self care is crucial. We tend to see it as a singular topic, but self-care at work may look very different from self-care at home. The challenges are different; the solutions sometimes complex, particularly for those of us who work in the service industry.
It feels almost silly to repeat what is well known for everyone; We are all experiencing massive shifts in our routines, activities and lives. Because it is a global change, it can be difficult to decide how our social behaviors may be impacted. One of the more unique challenges we’ve experienced as an organization has been the shift from grocery store to social outlet. For many people, coming in to shop may also be one of their few interactions with people outside of their immediate social circle. Many customers have been with us for a long time and have grown close to our team so coming in has been as social as it has been practical. The majority of our member-owners and shoppers are wonderful, and I know for many of us, the friendly faces are one of the things to love about our jobs. Yet we are still finding ourselves challenged with a smaller group of angry, anxious people who are having a difficult time processing those feelings.
Anyone who has worked in the service industry can attest that there are difficult situations made all the more complex by the power imbalance between customer and staff. Some staff fear repercussions for how they deal with difficult customers, which may cause them to accept behaviors that would never be acceptable in any other relationship: Yelling, insults, threats etc… For the most parts, these incidents were impactful, but rare. As our collective tensions and anxieties rise, we’re seeing the number and severity of these incidents increase.
I am asking all our shoppers and member-owners to be cognizant of this added strain as you shop, not only with us, but anywhere. There are countless videos of customers screaming at employees all over the country over mask-mandates. We have seen that too. I have personally been called names, cussed at and insulted, simply for asking people to wear the free mask that we provide for their 15 minutes or less in the store. It can be aggravating and frustrating because we are just trying to keep our staff and customers safe, and follow the health department mandate (as we follow all health department rules!).
We also have had staff accosted for the stance of the organization to support our Black community; Aggressive phone calls, anonymous letters, angry interactions directed at employees who are just doing their best to earn a living.
To the 99.9% of wonderful people we interact with everyday: thank you. Please continue to come in with your light and kindness. Show us pictures of your dogs. Talk about this crazy heat. Tell us your favorite foods. We love that.
And for those who are feeling anxious and unsure about all the changes we have had to undertake, please filter those to the appropriate place. You can email me at GM@wfcerie.coop, or you can email our Board at Board@wfcerie.coop, but it is never appropriate and will not be tolerated to be cruel to our staff.