Look After The Helpers

I visited the supermarket recently. When I arrived at the shopping centre, I was initially confused by the line of people. Fortunately, there was a staff member in her hi- vis vest to explain the process to the uninitiated, such as myself. So I stood on my blue dot, marveling at the way society was adapting to what we are told is a once in 100 year situation.

Closer to the entrance, I was greeted by two more staff members. One to keep an eye on customers who were leaving, such that he could regulate the number of people in the shop at any one time, in compliance with the new laws. The other to spray the hands of anyone entering the store with (what I hoped was) hand sanitiser. They were also cleaning down the handles of any returning trolleys.

Once in the store, staff were busily and cheerfully stocking shelves, and assisting customers. I was able to find almost everything I had on my list, for my family and for some elderly neighbours. 

The elderly in our community seem, largely, to be adapting to this new world also. The supermarkets are giving priority to the vulnerable in our community for online deliveries (which is right), but it’s meant that these ladies and gentlemen have had to learn to navigate the internet in ways they perhaps haven’t had to before. My generation didn’t grow up with the internet, but we did learn about computers at school. How overwhelming must it be to some who are only learning it now? I recall, as a young adult, being instructed to complete an assignment by researching a certain percentage on the internet. I dutifully went along to an internet cafe… Then sat staring at the screen… What next?… Fortunately, I have a good friend who works in IT, so I was able to email her, and she introduced me to the wonderful world of Google! It sounds so simple now. Imagine how it must feel for someone with limited exposure to computers or the internet, to suddenly have to perform the majority of their transactions using this.

As I filled my trolley, I was impressed by the cheerful staff, still ready to help, as much as ever. I commented on this to the pleasant young lady at the checkout. She remarked that she had been yelled at by customers, in recent times. Her response, she said, was to always respond by being extra saccharine sweet. This made me smile. I love that attitude! What a perfect antidote! I imagine it would be hard for people who are constantly being yelled at, especially by people who get to sit home on their couch, while these people copping the abuse are doing their best to help and serve, to continue to maintain a positive attitude, but these people young, and not so young, were doing a remarkable job of it!

Think of the healthcare workers, as well as these supermarket workers and anyone else continuing to have face to face contact with ‘the public’ in these troubling times. People who are there only to help you and I. It’s amazing how easy some find it to abuse the helpers when they are feeling stressed, without thought for how stressed the helpers are, or how their negative attitude is affecting the helpers, individually or as a group. I have witnessed the best and the worst of people. Many people seem to forget there are limited helpers, there are multitudes of people needing or demanding help. People do react differently to stress, as with everything. Why though, do many find it easiest to take out their frustrations on those trying to help them? These helpers haven’t put you in this vulnerable position. They do not want to be in the vulnerable ‘frontline’ position themselves. Don’t you think they would rather be told they can stay home? They are looking after you. Your loved ones. They are doing the best they can in this trying situation. They are benefiting you, your loved ones, your community. The attitudes they see everyday, from us, do affect them. How could it not?

Embrace your community spirit. Remember you are one of many. The helpers are each one among few. We need to look after them. Although it will never be as much as they are helping us, basic attitude and manners go a long way. Especially relevant when we consider where our Special Young People look to, mimic and ultimately learn from in their attitudes towards others.

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