We talked to a 10-year veteran of Trader Joe's about their experience working during a global health crisis.

Lauren Wicks
March 31, 2020
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These are trying times for everyone, but grocery store employees have it especially hard, as they have to come in close contact with dozens of people on each shift. We recently spoke with a Trader Joe's employee about her experience working at a grocery store during the coronavirus pandemic, and she says it can be frustrating dealing with impatient customers.

"A customer told me that he thought we could be letting more people into the store at once, and that felt frustrating and uncompassionate to me, as someone who's being exposed to hundreds and hundreds of people a week," she previously told us. "I think I speak for us all at Trader Joe's—the more people in the store, the more we feel stressed and concerned about our health."

Bill Tompkins/Getty Images

We asked this employee about what she wishes grocery shoppers knew about working during the coronavirus pandemic—and what they should be doing to protect themselves and the employees.

What Do You Wish Shoppers Knew About Working at a Grocery Store During a Health Crisis?

"I can't speak for all grocery workers, but I can feel the tension in my body when I go to work and while I'm there," she says. "It's subtle, but it's there."

She says the tension comes from only being able to control so much, like how often she washes and sanitizes her hands, as well as wearing gloves. She says it's hard not to be in control of how close customers get and whether or not they decide to wear gloves.

"I get stressed when I see adults bringing in their small children—even babies—or when I see couples shopping," she says. "Why can't just one of you come in?"

She says while her store is well-stocked and customers should be able to get what they need right now, the store can only do so much about what items are currently available.

"We can order what we want and need, but some things are out of stock in the warehouse, and some things like fresh meat may not show up in the quantities we want—or at all," she says.

What Do You Wish Grocery Shoppers Would Do to Keep You—and Themselves—Safe During This Time?

"We're practicing social distancing, but let's face it—[Trader Joe's] is a small store, and we all can't be six feet away from each other at all times," she says. "That being said, don't get closer to us and other customers than you need to. Wait until someone else gets their tomatoes and leaves the area before you get yours."

One of the most frustrating things this employee has seen is customers coming in only to buy a few items. We need to make the most of our time spent exposing ourselves—and others—during a pandemic, and she wishes people would be more thoughtful about their shopping trips. She says this is also true for the "doomsday shoppers" who are buying up the entire store so they have their house stocked for a month.

"Get what you need for one to two weeks, and decrease your trips to the store," she says. "Pop in quickly for the fresh stuff if you need to, but do some meal planning for the week and really think about what you need."