Editorial: Did we put essential workers on a pedestal only to knock them off again?

This pandemic is rough on everyone. Societally, financially, and emotionally for us all, and physically for those who become ill.

With the province ordering the shut down of most businesses a few weeks back, we all gathered in unison to sing the praises of the frontline workers in grocery stores, convenience stores, drive-thrus and other companies deemed essential.

For the first time in probably any of our lifetimes, convenience, grocery, and fast-food workers received the same level of respect that we’ve reserved for our military, firefighters, paramedics, and other first responders.

At long last, the person stocking toilet paper on the shelf in the grocery store and the person ringing it up at the till got noticed and even thanked for their contribution to society.

The Rant and Rave pages across Canada were full—we’re sure—as they were here, with endless praise for these hard-working Canadians.

Even A&W pitchman and actor Allen Lulu, in a virtue-signalling corporate piece, told us repeatedly during commercial breaks how valued essential workers are, thanking them all in his t-shirt.

After years of most of us not even acknowledging shop workers, we put these hard-working employees on a high pedestal, as we should.

But several weeks into this pandemic, it seems some of us are now ready to knock them off that pedestal now that our sense of frustration with the pandemic gets coupled with our natural self-centred sense of entitlement.

We’re hearing about people yelling at cashiers, ignoring social distancing rules in stores, and even angrily throwing stuff on the counter because they didn’t get their way. We again see rants about wrong food orders or complaints about being asked to follow the rules imposed on business by the province, regulations which, if disregarded, could lead to a $1000,000 fine for that business.

We understand that standing in line at six-foot intervals is an inconvenience, as is being told there can only be one or five or 50 people in the store at a time. It sucks to get told that you can only buy two of a particular product.

It all sucks right now.

It also sucks to stand on your feet behind a till for several hours, behind a sheet of plexiglass, wiping down the debit machine and surfaces between every customer, wondering when the next customer will lose their shit over something. It sucks to go home emotionally drained, wondering if you are bringing the virus home to your family. It sucks for them too.

We put essential workers on a pedestal a few weeks back because they are out there doing the best they can to keep our bellies full and our bums clean.

Let’s all, as most of us still are, keep them up on that pedestal instead of being so quick to knock them off for screwing up your burger or perhaps being a little snippy?

And to those of you showing compassion, kindness and appreciation to essential workers, thank you and please continue.

We’re sure they appreciate it.

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