‘We’re doing our best!’ Supermarket worker pens open letter amid Covid-19 crisis

Mar 18, 2020
A supermarket employee has penned an emotional open letter about the hardships they're facing amid the panic buying situation. Source: Getty

A supermarket night filler has told of the back-breaking work staff are experiencing during the coronavirus crisis and urged Aussie shoppers to show some respect as panic buying continues across the country.

Over the past few weeks supermarket shelves have been stripped bare of essentials, with toilet paper, pasta and rice disappearing within moments as people fear they’ll be forced into self-isolation or lockdown. Fights have broken out among shoppers desperate to grab necessities, and staff have been abused when stock runs out.

Now, one dedicated supermarket employee has given Aussies some insight into what they’re really experiencing during this difficult time in an incredibly honest open letter shared online. The post published on forum site Reddit this week explains the physical and emotional pain staff are going through on a daily basis and how, above all, they’re doing their best.

The staff member ensured people they’re working double to keep shelves stocked with more items coming in each day to keep up with the demand. And to try to keep the peace in supermarkets, they’re working longer hours and even coming in on their days off to help out. But despite their best efforts their feelings and struggles are being brushed to the side by the general public who are determined to ignore government advice and stockpile.

“My back hurts, my fingers are swollen, my knees are in bits,” the anonymous employee wrote on Reddit. “I haven’t had a meal with my family since this whole thing started two weeks ago. Trust me when I say that we’re killing ourselves to make sure there’s stock on the shelf.

“We have to try and do our jobs whilst also getting abused by our customers. People think they’re entitled to take more than the limits. People are sitting in the aisle waiting for stock, blocking us from actually doing our job. They’re also pulling things off cages and pallets making it unsafe for everyone.”

The employee said staff are “doing their best” to help shoppers but stressed that everyone needs to remember that not even they know when more stock will arrive, and said harassing them for information is not going to get them anywhere.

“No we don’t know when there’s more toilet paper,” they wrote. “We’re in the same boat as you are. No I don’t have a stash out the back. Supermarkets don’t have storerooms. They have a shop floor and a back dock. Once the store has been filled it’s all on the shelves.

“Please ask a staff member if you see something on the cage you want. We’re happy to get it for you within reason. No we’re not keeping things from you. We have no reason to. Let’s all be kinder to each other. Stick to the limits. Try and get what you need as quickly as possible if you see night fillers and their cages.”

The post received much attention from everyday Aussies who all thanked the hard worker for their commitment to the job. While others shared their own stories of hardship over the past few weeks.

“I appreciate your hard work in really trying circumstances,” one person commented on the post. “My kid works night fill at our local woolies. He is exhausted. Also can confirm there are zero night fill loo paper or any other perks to be had in these times … we are down to one roll of toilet paper in our home.”

“What people seemingly don’t realise about retail workers is that they’re on both sides of this mess,” another said. “Not only are they copping all the unwarranted criticism from customers, but when they go to do their shopping they’re in the same boat as the rest of us regarding stock shortages. Stay strong and keep up the great work.”

While a third said: “[I] Used to work at a supermarket for five years. This whole time with everyone panicking I’ve felt so sorry for you guys. You have to work so hard just to be abused by ungrateful customers about something that is out of your control. Not to mention the amount of people coming in close contact with you on the daily. Thanks for keeping us stocked up!”

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Do you know anyone who works at a supermarket? How are they handling the stressful situation?

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