Service workers have been the glue keeping us together throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when most things were shut down, take-out services, grocery stores, and mail delivery continued. Now that businesses are opening back up, the lives of these employees are made even more difficult, with extra precautions and sanitation measures in place. As many of us become more regular consumers again, here are some things to keep in mind to ensure you’re respecting the people in your community.
Do: Exercise Patience
If you think your patience is being tested during these trying times, imagine being the one to deal with frustrated customers all day long. Not only are these folks risking their health by coming in contact with people, but they’re also dealing with the irritation of the public first hand.
We live in a society of instant gratification, where anything from fresh food and social interaction is just a click away. This kind of expectation is not good for our wellbeing anyway — it’s proven to produce addictive tendencies and general impatience. Now is the time to unlearn these behaviors. If you’re frustrated, just take a deep breath, and remember that you probably don’t have anywhere to be anyway.
Don’t: Complain About New Rules
The situation with COVID-19 is ever-evolving, with service workers constantly having to learn new ways to do their jobs, as regulations are in constant flux. It’s very possible that the cafe you frequent could have different rules on any given day. If this is the case, remind yourself that regulations are in place to keep you safe. Also keep in mind that most people serving you don’t have a choice in the matter at all, and that complaining will just bring down their day.
Do: Speak Loud And Clear
With much of our interactions taking place while wearing masks, understanding each other has definitely become more challenging. As a rule, try raising your voice an octave or two when you’re talking to someone, especially if there’s music or noise in the background. Another thing to pay attention to is enunciation — speak clearly and take extra care not to mumble when wearing a mask.
Speaking with your hands in an animated way, as well as expressions with your eyes (helloooo Tyra Banks’ smize) are other ways to achieve this too. In general, remember that these folks are straining to hear customers through masks all day, and taking the extra effort to communicate can make a big difference for them.
Don’t: Take Off Your Mask
There are many reasons why you might wish to do this without malicious intent. Maybe you need to scratch your nose, or the person you’re speaking to can’t understand what you’re saying. However, simply put – just don’t do it.
Not only does taking off a mask put those around you at risk, it also means that the employee you’re interacting with has to be confrontational and ask you to put it back on. It puts everyone in an uncomfortable situation that can easily be avoided.
*Oh, and if you really have to scratch your nose that bad, step outside or do so in the restroom. Just don’t forget to disinfect your hands afterward.
Do: Spread The Love
Being polite and respectful to the people who scan your groceries and serve your lunch should go without saying. But why not go the extra mile? We could all use a little pick-me-up these days. Ask them how their day is going, wish them a great afternoon, or maybe compliment their cute mask. We’re all feeling alienated right now by the current circumstances, so make those social interactions count, and bring some joy to another person’s day.
If there’s a neighborhood spot you frequent, you could even consider doing something special for the employees, like making them a thank you card. Gestures like these will make a huge impact, and help folks feel recognized for their hard work.
Don’t: Forget to Tip
The pandemic makes service work more dangerous, and at the very least, that deserves extra compensation. For example, if you’re going to eat, you should really consider building an additional tipping percentage into your budget. Ideally, while employers should be giving their employees raises right now, there’s a responsibility on the consumer too. So if you can, consider tipping a bit extra; it will go a long way.
Do: Mind Your Distance
As the “new normal” becomes more established, it can be easy to forget to distance yourself from others. But when you’re out in public, protecting yourself and the people you interact with should be top of mind. Wherever you are, take extra caution to keep a safe distance from employees and fellow, to ensure everyone feels comfortable.
Don’t: Forget To Ask Before You Touch
Each store or restaurant has its own policy when it comes to touching things. Some cafes will want to grab your straw for you, certain stores won’t want you to touch anything at all before buying. Be alert, look for signs and ask questions if you’re unsure about their policies. It’s best to be certain of their approach before making more work for the employee.
Ashley is a freelance writer and on-going contributor at TFD based in Toronto. An avid traveler, she recently returned home to Canada after two years living abroad in Vietnam and Japan. She loves to read, try new things in the kitchen and get outside. You can learn more about her work here and can follow her adventures on Instagram @ashley_corb.
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