For frontline workers, the approach to each workday remains the same. While the world changes rapidly around us with global pandemics and novel vaccines, the essential workers who have put the time in day after day have realized a new normal.
It’s going on ten months since COVID-19 reached the United States, and there is still not quite an end in sight. When put in situations of great adversity, individuals find ways to adjust to survive or push past a difficult time. It’s been a period of great challenge for an entire nation and beyond, from top to bottom.
Yet, the people who continue to provide the rest of us with essential services head to work every day with the same attitude. Just keep going, and one day we won’t need so many limitations, precautions, and restrictions on where we can go. But until then, the reality is that we don’t know who could have the virus, and we don’t know its long-term effects. People who have to work through this situation have to take a risk each day, and that can be tough to manage when you don’t know how it’s all going to play out.
“At first, it was scary,” UPS Driver Alex Serpi recalled. “We really didn’t know what was going on.” But like the rest of the essential workers, Serpi found a new normal in an abnormal world. “After a couple of months of it, we became numb to it,” he said.
Had the panic of the pandemic ended in early summer like many anticipated, we would be looking back on the chaos that was the start of 2020 with strong disdain. Unfortunately, it has dragged on throughout the rest of the year, and it’s now been long enough to make what was at one point a brief nightmare feel like just another day.
“Now, it’s the same situation because we’re tired and numb from it,” Serpi said. “There’s an unknown to it. The sentiment of a new, masked normal has permeated our everyday lives. “Where we’re going, who we’re seeing, what’s going to happen. You get to the point where you become desensitized to it.”
We are now heading into winter with our hopes set for spring for small businesses, bars, restaurants, and even sports to return to the old normal. This winter will be more of the same social distancing, masks, and limited-capacity public spaces. Still, there is light at the end of this dark tunnel, even if we haven’t seen much of it this year.
The notion of becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable is something grocery store workers, in particular, have had to deal with throughout 2020. At Jubilee Foods, Margaret Burns has effectively navigated the scary unknown that followed the initial pandemic announcement what feels like an eternity ago.
“In 35 years of me working in retail, I’ve never experienced anything of this magnitude,” Burns said. “We just went at it head-on, tried to listen to the information and take it one day at a time.”
No matter what happens, everywhere from small mountain towns to big cities will keep plugging away because of the efforts and consistency of those who connect with the public every day.
The ‘just keep swimming’ approach from millions of Americans in essential business has been admirable, and they certainly have not received enough recognition for it.
Whether you are a frontline worker who deals with the public on a day-to-day basis, or you have family or friends who do, we all need to be mindful and appreciative of these everyday heroes whose continued efforts provide the country with things they need to keep a sense of normalcy alive.
“You just keep it going; that’s all you can do,” Serpi expressed. We all need to just keep it going, and eventually, businesses and individuals affected by this situation most will be back on their feet.