Life under Lockdown – The Supermarket Worker

Guest blog number three.

Mixed Feelings by Long Tall Bob

On 23rd March 2020 my job description went from ‘unskilled shelf-stacker’ to ‘key worker feeding the nation’.

At time of writing we are five weeks into the UK’s coronavirus lockdown. 21,678 people are dead. And anyone serious will tell you we have barely scratched the surface of this pandemic. 

So, what is my experience of this global calamity? 

‘Mixed’ is one word I could use – but it doesn’t quite do justice to the full spectrum of feelings I cycle through on a daily basis. Everything from disgust at humanity in general, through to a certain feeling of luck at being cast as ‘key worker feeding the nation’.

Let’s deal with my disgust in the human race first, shall we?

This coronavirus is novel. It’s new to us. Where once there was no ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2’, now there is. Why? Because we are an invasive species who appear hellbent on exploiting every natural resource the Earth has to offer as quickly as we can – and hang the consequences. This particular disease originated from illegal wild animal markets in China, but it wasn’t the first disease to spawn from our respect-less plundering of nature and it won’t be the last. This disease – along with up to four brand new viruses per year – was entirely preventable and entirely our fault. 217,183 people worldwide are now dead because of our indefensible intrusion into nature. The Guardian 25th April 2020 –

So, in my capacity as ‘key worker feeding the nation’, do I serve a remorseful public? Do I see shoppers respectfully following the health guidelines in a national effort to flatten the curve, protect the NHS and save lives? The hell I do.

I see customers who think they should get their food before vulnerable people simply because they have a loyalty card. 

I see customers assiduously staying two metres away from each other before walking within touching distance of me in my supermarket uniform.

I see customers coughing into their hands and then fondling everything on the shelves. 

I see customers at the open food service counters walk straight over the bright red and yellow line and truly huge “STAND TWO METRES AWAY” stickers to reach over the glass and prod at the bit of cheese or meat or fish they want.

And then I see eyes roll when they’re told to follow the rules.

I don’t have this experience with everyone that walks through the door – but it is a very significant minority. And in this minority I see no respect, no consciousness of their actions and no remorse for the 20,000+ who caught this disease and died because people thought the rules didn’t apply to them.

We are in a national lockdown. Food shopping is not an excuse to get out of the house. When you have to go food shopping you should know what you are getting in advance. We haven’t limited the number of customers in the shop and suspended cash payments so you can spend an hour browsing. Food shops remain open because they are an essential service for your survival.

The behaviour of too many people during all this has made me truly ashamed to be human…

But I also mentioned a feeling of luck. 

Because, despite everything, I do feel lucky. I am a key worker who is not on the medical front line, but simultaneously not having my mental health kicked in the nuts by being furloughed or self-isolating or shielding and being stuck in my house day in and day out. 

I get to walk to work. I get to have purpose. In my occasional capacity as a delivery driver I get to drive around and see the glorious Spring weather, the countryside, the wildlife. I get to interact with other human beings – many of whom don’t even disgust me.

In short, I get to have a life during this lockdown. Risks aside, that’s got to be something to be thankful for. 

Long Tall Bob is a retail worker at a national UK supermarket. He’s also a web developer. When he’s not stacking shelves, behind the open food counters, or out and about as a home delivery driver, he’s building websites for businesses and individuals using environmentally sustainable techniques.

If you would like to write your own Guest Blog, about your Life under Lockdown, I’d love to hear from you! Click here to see what you need to do. It’s more important than ever that we hear each other. And if you’re reading this, and thinking ‘she doesn’t mean me‘ – you’d be wrong. Get writing!!

Stay safe. Stay sane. It’s not forever. We can do this.

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Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Joan Mudd says:

    Yet another thought provoking blog. When I read about people’s behavior I am truly shocked but sadly not surprised. As I type I am watching the celebrations for Captain Tom’s 100th birthday. Captain Tom is from a generation of selfless individuals who gave their lives so that we could live ours. That generation endured separation, deprivation and the threat of death on a daily basis. Sound familiar? I think they would be ashamed to see their sacrifices so casually thrown away, as am I

    Liked by 2 people

  2. SisterStay says:

    You are doing a great job. Every time I shop, I thank the shopworkers for actually turning up to work. I can see they have to put up with a LOT. The empty shelves at the beginning were proof that people can be incredibly selfish and thoughtless. (I still don’t understand the whole loo roll stockpiling business.) But I have seen incredible kindness and selflessness through all this too and I like to think that the good far outweighs the bad. I am sure you are right that this is not the last virus we will see, so I really hope some major lessons are learned – about each of us trying to live in a more sustainable way (now that we know better what we can do without), about the importance of having purpose, even in isolation (there are so many ways to be useful) and about respect for other people.


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