Yesterday, I read on Twitter that a guy made someone at a Coop checkout burst into tears just because he thanked the person.
On Friday, the initial flash of emotion on the person’s face surprised me when I said “Stay well” to someone at a reception desk somewhere else. That too made me think few people had been expressing concerns for the people behind that counter.
I am often not great at it either.
Earlier this week, at Aldi, I thought I saw some tension in the person at the checkout, not surprisingly. I wish I could do something about that. When I got home, I noticed that one of the products I had bought had some substance on them and it took me a while to realize that the person at the checkout likely had been using a lot of hand sanitizer.
Although that helps, I don’t think it is enough and there is also the important task of doing things for the sole purpose of reassuring staff (making them feel protected) to help keep their stress levels down.
It kept bothering me.
I looked into what was happening in the Netherlands and read that screens had been placed around some checkout counters at DIY stores, though I haven’t been able to find any photos of it yet. Possibly, this was done to maintain the recommended distance (which protects people against this spray of tiny droplets of saliva when we speak).
(Update: When I looked into it some more just now, I saw that the Albert Heijn supermarket chain will be placing acrylic screens.)(Not sure if this is for the entire chain.)
(Update: I also found a video of a Dutch DIY store placing screens and staff saying they are really happy about that: https://www.nhnieuws.nl/nieuws/264087/spuugsschotten-moeten-caissieres-wormerveer-tegen-het-coronavirus-beschermen)
I think that placing any kind of larger screen around the people operating the checkouts might go a long way toward keeping their stress levels down. (In some supermarkets, the distance between them and the customers is smaller than at others.)
Such a screen could be acrylic (or wood or maybe even cardboard, with a small opening that might be covered with plastic, but even not covering it up but having a screen should already help protect checkout staff somewhat from the teenie tiny small droplets that fly from our mouths when we speak).
Having them wear gloves that they discard during breaks, into bins that have bags in them (liners) and then using new ones might be good but they’d go through a lot of gloves that way. But it would work as a physical reminder for them to stop them from touching their faces, which happens so automatically. (I too constantly catch myself doing things I know I shouldn’t be doing.)
Signs at counters – such as at Royal Mail – need to be at face height for standing people because we look at people first and only notice signs placed on the counter later. (But the signs on the counter may need to stay in place, too, for anyone who uses a wheelchair or mobility scooter.)
If you are working checkouts, also consider doing anything that stops your hair from falling into your face if you’d then automatically would want to push the hair out of your face – and touch your face at the same time.
And if you go to the supermarket, don’t use cash to pay if you can help it so that the cashiers don’t need to touch money.
To help protect supermarket staff. To help make them feel safer.
After customers leave the supermarket, they too should take care and for instance wash hands when they get home, but they’re already doing that, I am sure.
Regular cleaning of the self-checkout tills – to protect staff – is needed as well, but I am sure that that is already being done.
Particularly key people (management, local government) have to start doing things that will feel like total paranoia to them to protect themselves because so many people rely on them in so many ways.
Government officials and key managers may want to look into n-acetyl cysteine and assess whether it might help keep them maintain more functionality should they become infected, even though there are no data on this yet. See for example:
While I am typing this, it feels like I am exaggerating, being totally over the top, but I only need to remind myself of Northern Italy to realise… no, I am not and the only thing that seems to have been able to stop (which may be merely “slow it down enough”?) the virus is to shut down all contact, the way it happened in China. (What that means for the long term is hard to tell. Delayed peaks, the virus coming back later and all that.)
Yes, I am bored as I have nothing else to do (which goes with my life in England at just about any time) and I like looking for solutions. And, also, I am furious about the weather gods having dropped the temperatures. At least it’s sunny. That’s something.