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Fri Mar 27, 2020, 03:58 AM

The New First Responders: Talking to the Grocery-Store Workers You See Every Day

Last week, photographer Sinna Nasseri was at Grace’s Marketplace, an upscale local market on New York’s Upper East Side. Behind the counter, 62-year-old Vilma Valdivieso exchanged her rubber gloves for a fresh pair, as she did between each customer, to avoid the possibility of cross-contamination. But the next woman who reached the front of the line immediately asked, “Are your hands clean?”

“I could see she was nearly in tears,” says Nasseri, who spent time in several grocery stores and food vendors in Manhattan and Brooklyn. After Valdivieso’s reassurances, the customer immediately calmed down, appeased; still, the exchange hung in the air. That’s just how the city feels these days. “You can tell people don’t mean to be like that—they’re just scared,” she said.

The grocery workers Nasseri spoke with know their roles have changed dramatically, with the current public health crisis turning them into a lifeline for families—and possibly the only other person a customer might talk to all day, or all week. Their jobs have grown to include absorbing and defraying the city’s tension; smiling, politely assisting. “Yesterday I had a situation,” Westside Market’s Gabriela Maldonado, 30, told Nasseri. “An elderly woman refused to go into the store, she did not want to go. So I had to come out, take her order, pick the stuff out, pack it, and bring it right outside to her, because she refused to go in. And I understand.”

Now among the city’s most crucial personnel, grocery workers are nevertheless exposed to new dangers. Thanks to the global pandemic of COVID-19, which is tightening its grip on New York, we’re being encouraged to keep our distance from each other, even family and friends. In Governor Andrew Cuomo’s PAUSE order of March 22, gatherings of any size were banned. So-called nonessential workers were directed to stay at home unless absolutely necessary—leaving workers from the health care, manufacturing, infrastructure sectors to continue with their daily grind. Grocery stores, along with pharmacies, farmer’s markets, hardware stores, and a few other exceptions, are considered essential retail.

https://www.vogue.com/article/grocery-store-workers-new-york-city-coronavirus?

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Reply The New First Responders: Talking to the Grocery-Store Workers You See Every Day (Original post)
Sherman A1 Mar 2020 OP
BigmanPigman Mar 2020 #1
murielm99 Mar 2020 #2
BigmanPigman Mar 2020 #6
TNNurse Mar 2020 #3
Sherman A1 Mar 2020 #4
TNNurse Mar 2020 #5

Response to Sherman A1 (Original post)

Fri Mar 27, 2020, 04:47 AM

1. Some Verizon stores are actually open

but a lot of people have had hours cut and others are working from home. It took literally 2 full hours for the Verizon people to contact this and that manager, supervisor, etc to straighten out my lack of my PIN # from 8 years ago.
While waiting I think I talked to the two Verizon employees for at least an hour. They didn't seem to mind since very few people realized they were still open or are going out at all and they were bored, unlike those at the grocery stores and pharmacies.

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Response to BigmanPigman (Reply #1)

Fri Mar 27, 2020, 06:15 AM

2. Yes, Verizon stores are open.

My mother called me twice yesterday. She went out and got a new phone. I don't know why the hell she was out getting a phone. She has a land line and was fine at home. She is 91.

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Response to murielm99 (Reply #2)

Fri Mar 27, 2020, 03:41 PM

6. My battery died and I ordered a new one,

turns out my 2012 phone was dead. I couldn't even turn it on to transfer the info on my old phone yo my mew one...lost it all. I only use it for emergencies and calling long distance (the GOP in Wash DC gets the most calls).

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Response to Sherman A1 (Original post)

Fri Mar 27, 2020, 06:29 AM

3. This story made me cry.

I am sure there is fear, but this one probably had some racism as well.

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Response to TNNurse (Reply #3)

Fri Mar 27, 2020, 01:05 PM

4. Happily retired now from the grocery business

But, my heart aches for the folks that I worked with who remain on the job every day dealing with this issue.

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Response to Sherman A1 (Reply #4)

Fri Mar 27, 2020, 03:07 PM

5. I have a favorite clerk at my regular grocery store. When I checked out today

I thanked her warmly and told her how much they are appreciated. I also encouraged her to stay safe.

I hope others are doing the same.

Very happily retired nurse

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