Jeri’s Jackpot: To Work or Not To Work

(Source: Flickr/Eric Tischler)

Ever since Coronavirus or COVID-19 emerged in the United States, people have gone into a state of panic. I mean, you can’t even walk into a store and buy toilet paper because of the Great Toilet Paper Raid of 2020. 

Who knew that in desperate times toilet paper would be the first thing to go? (Source: Flickr/Eclectic Jack)

Our state has been placed under a stay-at-home order which lasts until May 1. Before that, most places were shut down in terms of restaurants and bars. You can still get takeout food but you can’t go in and sit in the restaurant. This is understandable because food is essential. 

Some people don’t have ways to cook food, so for them, takeout is essential. Not to mention, cooking every night for a big family can be difficult, especially if your job is on the essential list and you still have to work. 

However, this has led to a much larger issue. Many companies, such as GameStop and Starbucks are still open during this time. 

Now, Starbucks is listed as food and drink, so despite being considered a luxury, they must remain open. GameStop, however, could be deemed essential or non-essential depending on how it’s viewed.

While they are primarily a video game store, making them a luxury and not something required for the essentials of life, they also sell equipment for computers such as headsets, keyboards, webcams and mics. All of which can be used to work from home in scenarios such as the one we face.

The employees of these two companies have been very vocal online in their disapproval of being open during a time such as this. Even after their companies both respectively made statements – Starbucks announced that it would be paying their employees their typical salary regardless of whether they went to work or not and GameStop released a statement that they would be enacting at-door delivery, meaning customers could get their items without entering the store.  

In certain GameStop shops in different states, it was made mandatory to close their doors for the duration of the order

Now, it would sound like the issue had been resolved right? Wrong. Many Starbucks employees have continued to visually complain about a number of forums. This wouldn’t normally be an issue in my opinion but the fact of the matter is, these employees are doing this in a manner that makes their comments easily traceable to them. 

I understand working during something like this pandemic because even if the company says they’ll pay you, if there’s no protection against being fired then you can’t guarantee that you’ll still have a job after all of this is over. Especially if you decide to take the pay and not work. However, if you’re going to complain about work, it’s best not to do it in a setting that can be traced to you. 

It’s understandable, from a certain point. To be caught in the middle of something so unknown as this pandemic is quite frightening and understandably uncomfortable. The thing to remember is, that there are lots of people working right now that don’t want to be and who feel the same as you do. Why should they risk their lives just so that companies can continue to make money? 

The problem stems when you begin to see yourself as the only important one and think that you’re more special than the thousands of other retail and food workers who are still open like you are. By the logic that ‘being open is a risk to your health’ then you’re saying that every restaurant and store should close down and we should all hunker down in our houses until the number of cases drop to the point where it’s viewed safe to do daily tasks. 

Maybe you’re right, but the problem is, it’s just not feasible. If everyone had ways to get their own food and supplies without going to the store or if emergency situations didn’t require someone to have a working car, maybe that would be doable. But we live in a society where everything simply cannot just cease to work. 

(Source: Flickr/GoToVan)

If that were the case and if that were to happen, things could be a lot worse off than they are now. There would be no lights, no water, no heat or air conditioning. Maybe you’re saying, “humans lived without those before, why can’t we now?” 

Sure. I guess some people could adjust. The problem in that theory is that humans in this day and age are built for having all of those. We’ve adapted to living with running water, electricity and air conditioning. While some people might be alright for a while without it, society would collapse in on itself and if you’ve ever seen an apocalypse movie of any type, you know what happens when society collapses. 

So, maybe making coffee drinks for the people who still come through the drive-thru isn’t essential in your eye, but to some it is. If you’re like me and you struggle with any sort of mental disorder – anxiety and depression are mine – routines are key to feeling normal. 

We can’t control the Coronavirus. We can take steps to mitigate its impact but we can’t just stop it and make it leave us alone. So what can we do? We can do the little things in our daily routine that helps us feel normal.

So I want to thank you – Starbucks employees, Gamestop employees, food workers. You help some people like me to feel normal. It’s okay to complain, but if you like your job, maybe do it anonymously so you don’t get in trouble? 

Jeri Hensley
Reporter

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