I work as a vitamin clerk at Sprouts Farmers Market in Las Vegas, NV. I was hired in 2016 to demo their food products in the deli department. It was a position they created for me because they didn't have such a thing at that time — that was what I was doing until now.
This is just one of my jobs. I have three others that were affected when all this happened. I am a group exercise instructor at 24 Hour Fitness, a Pilates coach at a private studio, and a brand ambassador for other independent supplement and vitamin brands. These independent brands were all health and nutrition products that are part of the Vitamin department. It was perfect for me, because being in the fitness industry for 25 years made nutrition a part of my life and interests. As you know, these last three opportunities are considered non-essential, and the private studio and gym were mandated to close down indefinitely — and just like that, I lost 3/4 of my income.
On March 11th when I came to work, I was told that the demo program at Sprouts that I worked in was suspended, and that they needed my help in the vitamin department. The first week of my job as a vitamin clerk during COVID-19 was absolutely crazy, especially in my department. We were inundated with customers buying up our hand sanitizing products, immune supplements like vitamin C, elderberry, echinacea, and zinc. When these were completely out, we supplied them with recipes to make their own sanitizers with natural ingredients like witch hazel, tea tree oils, etc, but they wanted bleach and rubbing alcohol which we don't carry. Of course, all of our water and toilet paper supplies were depleted. After a few days more, customers cleared our grocery shelves of non-perishable food products. Then, all our frozen goods. The funny thing was that our produce department was still intact — but not for long, of course. Onions, garlic, potatoes, ginger, winter squashes, citrus — things people could store in the coolness of their garages — also went quickly. Lines were long, fear in each person's face. Many were spending hundreds of dollars (up to $800) worth of products.
As the global situation began to intensify (more deaths reported, social distancing was introduced, and many businesses were closed down), it got worse for us as an industry. Those first few weeks were overwhelming, but I was on auto-pilot. Maybe still am! Customers came in with their masks, gloves, and more fear. They even asked us if we could give or sell our food handling gloves to them. Some shoppers also tried to walk off with our department sanitizing gel and all the wipes that are used to wipe their carts. One of the biggest challenges personally was that initially, we didn't have the chance to go buy our own groceries. We had to go to 2–3 other sprouts locations at 7 a.m. when they opened to buy the essentials we needed. As things progressed, some team members were understandably bewildered, exasperated, overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, even angry.
I am exposed every day when I go to work. I wear a mask and gloves. The mask makes it difficult to breathe. Some employees took a leave of absence, and others quit because they did not want to get exposed. We now have to use a sign-in sheet where we indicate that we do not have a temperature — and I'm thankful Sprouts has given those of us who are continuing to work extra pay and bonuses.
Every day when I go to work, I'm hoping I don't get sick. When I go home, I tell myself that I WILL NOT get sick. My daughters were reminding me that I'm in a vulnerable age bracket — I know they are concerned for my health. But I am healthy, strong, positive, and mostly, I am able to be of help to our customers, whom I believe just need our understanding, kindness, and empathy. Our team members also all do our best to support one another. Our company is doing all they can to support us. It makes me tearful.
For now, I am helping any way I can. There are others (medical/healthcare members, first responders) who are doing more! Before even knowing that being part of the grocery business was essential, I was just absolutely grateful and feeling blessed that I was asked to help out in the vitamin department — and now, I am still so grateful that I have a job, because there are people less fortunate. I want to be able to help my daughters and others if need be, and pay my own bills. That motivates and drives me. My mom and my aunt kindly sent me money to help pay April's rent.
Believe me, not to say that there aren't times when I am so tired that depression sets in, being alone, away from my family. Worrying about them and the situation we are all in. But I believe this will pass, and that it will bring us all closer — making us all more accepting, understanding, kinder, and appreciative of one another and all the things we have.
You Might Also Like