Many are stuck at home, only leaving for the essentials or going for quiet rides. They are craving any kind of human interaction beyond the walls of their homes or the confines of their vehicles. They want their lives back, out in the open world with their friends and family. We all do. Some employees on the front line crave the security of their homes and the silence and comfort they bring. Many essential workers face people from day to day. Some face sick people, unhappy people, defiant people, and so on. These workers need a vacation from the public. They need a break from the mad frenzy of the pandemic.
As you know from my other blog posts I am one of those essential workers. As a cashier I face hundreds of people each day. Some are nice, some are mad that we are out of things, and some refuse to follow the distancing rules. Lines form with people stocking up on food so they don’t have to leave the house for a few weeks. There are still a few who just do their normal daily or weekly shopping trips.
Our registers have plexiglass near the belt, and the debit machine was moved towards the beginning of the belt where customers enter. On the floor are signs where to stand for distancing, and a sign sits at the end of our register informing customers to wait until the cashier calls them. One day while I was waiting on a customer, a woman stepped past the debit machine and started putting her groceries down.
I kindly said, “Ma’ma, could you please stand back until I’m done with this lady’s order.”
The woman stuck her head high. “I’m not a kindergartener that you can tell what to do. I’m not hurting anyone.”
I felt it would be pointless to explain to her that she was breaking the distancing rules. She also was making it hard for my customer to pay for her groceries safely. Instead I bit my tongue. Luckily customers cannot read their cashier’s mind. If they could, I’d be fired for my thoughts. This woman was just one of many who refused to follow the rules.
Another day a guy came to my line telling me our managers do not know how to order things because we were out of toilet paper. I tried to explain that everyone was out of toilet paper. He yelled at me and called me a liar. Again my thoughts were pretty colorful.
I’m grateful for the customers who thank me for doing my job, but frustrated with the ones who are not so nice. I have anxiety attacks when the lines start growing. I feel sick to my stomach and I fight off dry heaves. In my head I think, People stay home. Stop coming in. Please stay away. I just want some peace and quiet.
When I started my vacation on April 17, I couldn’t be more excited. I needed to sleep in, stay home, and be away from others. I needed to find peace within my soul and to manage my mental illness. Originally we planned to leave for North Carolina to my sister’s on the seventeenth and from her house go to my brother’s in Tennessee, but instead my ten-day vacation just became a break from people and the front lines.
Kathy Dahlkemper, the county executive of Erie County, put in effect a stay at home order, but said we could go for rides as long as we stayed in our vehicles. So during my vacation my husband and I took quiet drives in the country. These drives helped me relax and focus on the beauty of nature. I needed to focus on something other than the fear that had been eating at my soul each day I went to work and the anxiety that rattled my nerves. Going for a ride helped me do that.
Several days during my vacation I worked out with my friend Denise. We did the exercising with a safe distance between us. We walked and ran around the blocks in my neighborhood. Denise and I also did exercises, or Denise’s ways of torturing me, in the alley behind my home. This helped build up my self-esteem and helped me release my inner demons. Denise is very encouraging. When I think I have nothing left in me, she reassures me I can keep going. Losing weight helps me feel good and pushing my body to its limits helps me let go of my anguish. It’s rejuvenating to see the progress I have made since I started.
During my vacation I also found time to edit my memoir, journal, and write a guest blog post for another blogger. My writing is my life and it’s my therapy. I pour my soul out in my writing. My journal has gotten me through some very rough times in my life. Working during this pandemic wore me out and made it hard for me to pursue my writing. It felt so freeing to get back to it, to let my feelings out on paper, and to document my struggles with this pandemic in my journal.
I also spent some days just sitting in front of the TV. It felt good to just sit and do nothing. During my vacation I also practiced some of my coping techniques like journaling positive things, and video chatting and texting with my friends and support system. I even spent extra time with my husband.
I hated the idea of going back to work, but I returned renewed and with my mental wellbeing intact. I needed a vacation. Now I face my job with a new perspective and with extra strength.
Be nice to those on the front line. They are in desperate need of a vacation and not all of them can take one. They are putting their lives on the line to serve you. Be kind.
For those working on the front line, if you feel like you are getting burned, out take a vacation, and if you can’t, take some sick days. You need time to just relax and be free of the panicked public.
Because I took a ten-day vacation, I feel a little less anxious and afraid at work. The vacation helped me stay in the light of recovery.