The Accidental Key Worker

Can I admit to having Lockdown Envy?

The thought of being able to stay home, maybe read a book, go for a nice walk as long as I stay away from people – that sounds lovely.

My reality is very different.

I’m a kitchen designer – but because I work for a major DIY store (a ‘hardware store’) I’m now classed as a key worker. We supply items that are essential for people to be able to keep their homes safe and secure. I can’t remember the last kitchen I designed – I’m now pretty much working stock all the time.

First we had the panic buying – people, quite sensibly, realised that if they were going to be stuck at home for 12 weeks, they would need something to do. Unfortunately that translated into huge crowds of people coming to buy paint and bedding plants.

I totally get why they would do this – but one particular image will stick with me after this is all over. The call went out for till-trained staff, so I headed for the check-outs. As I opened the door to the main store I could see a crowd of people, and I knew I had to go into that crowd to get to the tills.

And I Just. Didn’t. Want. To.

That was Saturday. Since then, things have calmed down a lot – by Sunday we were only allowing one person at a time at the check outs, and we were making them queue two metres apart. Monday felt much calmer – people were beginning to understand what they needed to do, and we were only allowing them into the store a few at a time. On Tuesday we closed.

And now we’re operating Click and Collect on essential items only, and we’re taking the goods out to customers’ cars so no-one is coming into the stores at all.

I’m working stock. I have no problem with that – it needs to be done. But it’s so physically demanding!! As a kitchen designer I mostly sat at a computer all day long… Now I’m lugging large pots of paint up and down ladders.

We try to stay 2 metres apart. To begin with it was kind of fun – up and down the aisles like a giant game of PacMan, with people dodging out of the way to avoid each other. But it’s virtually impossible to keep it up for an entire 8 hour shift. We apologise to each other if we accidentally get too close – but saying sorry won’t stop the virus from spreading.

When I get home it’s no longer a case of just popping the kettle on and wandering upstairs to get changed out of my uniform. The boots come off at the door. I wash my hands with soap and hot water. The uniform comes off and goes straight in the wash, and I go straight in the bath (partly to get clean, partly to ease those aching muscles). Then I make a cup of tea. And another cup of tea.

I can feel that I’m stressed – I’m getting headaches (I hardly ever get headaches), my stomach ties itself in knots sometimes, and my left eyelid has developed a twitch. I can make it stop twitching by rubbing it – but I know I shouldn’t touch my face, and particularly not my eyes. And that just adds to the stress.

Today we’ll get our Police letters confirming that we’re key workers and allowing us to travel to get to work. It’s getting serious now.

I didn’t go looking for this. I’m just a kitchen designer, ffs.

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. LittleDreams says:

    I honestly can’t think of a single thing to say that will make you feel better. But I’m still remotely teaching and in school for the key worker children- and yes, it’s a huge struggle to keep a distance from the poor mites. Can’t tend to bumped heads or tie shoelaces from 2m away! But hey, we will get through this. Air hugs,xx

    Like

    1. Thanks for the air hugs!! I needed them!! I used to teach (KS1 mostly), so I feel your pain. It’s all just so hard – but you’re right, we’ll get through it. xx

      Like

  2. gosforthgirl says:

    I’m self isolating for 3 months as I have the double whammy of being elderly and being careless enough to have no spleen!

    As Lady Bracknell might have said,
    ” To lose one major organ may be considered a misfortune…to lose two is carelessness!”

    Trying to keep to the 2 metre rule doesn’t work in supermarkets as despite your best efforts you collide in the aisles!

    You would think being confined to barracks would result in neglected jobs being done but I have the concentration skilks of a gnat.

    Miss social meet ups, long lunches and fun times but just have to stop wingeing!

    Apparently!

    Like

    1. I’ve just come back from Aldi – one in one out rule, but once you’re in it’s impossible to keep 2m away from people. If you leave a gap, someone jumps into it!! Take care xx

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  3. Michelle says:

    Strange times indeed! A few short weeks ago life was normal. But doesn’t that seem like many long months ago? I guess the Universe would like us all to be way more grateful for the simple things in life we’re all so missing. I awaken each morning to that dull stomach thud of realization that we’re living in an episode of The Twilight Zone right now. Take care everyone. Air hugs from me, too 🤗

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    1. I’ve never watched the Twilight Zone – I really should, as you’re about the 15th person who’s said that to me!!! It’s certainly very peculiar.

      Like

  4. Joan Mudd says:

    More air hugs and socially distanced affection (affection not infection) from Mallorca. Glad that people are finally getting the message over there. This is a dangerous thing and not a lark. It kills. Please take care and when this is all over we will come down to see you and drink tea by the gallon. Love XXX

    Like

    1. OO yes, that sounds like a plan. We’re officially doing no kitchen designs and existing ones are on hold. We’re all just working stock and sorting out Click and Collect. Hoping you guys are coping as well as can be expected. xx

      Like

  5. SisterStay says:

    Hats off and big, virtual hugs to you and all key workers, whatever their key work may involve. I’m really sorry that you are now in a such a physically demanding job. I can just imagine how emotionally draining that is too. These are surreal times and society would grind to a halt without everyone making such an incredible effort to support one another. I thank the postie and the grocery assistants whenever I see them and I regularly run shopping and pharmacy errands for elderly neighbours but it doesn’t feel like enough. As a generally fit and healthy person, I almost wish I could catch Corona and be done with it so I can take on a more useful role. I am very lucky to be in isolation with my (healthy) family but my heart goes out to everyone in solitary isolation. Twelve weeks is a long time. Maybe we will all lead a very different kind of life after this. Take care of yourself. And keep blogging. We love them. xxx

    Like

    1. I don’t mind the work, truly I don’t – but I think the body might be starting to complain before too long. At least it makes up for not being able to go to the gym!! (And at least I was reasonably fit beforehand). It will be interesting to see how things change post-covid. Or if we learn anything at all!! Take care and stay well. xx

      Like

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