TL;DR Our grocery clerks and other essential workers need their pandemic ‘hazard’ pay back. They also need our kindness and respect not abuse and attacks.

As the pandemic has continued and since the lull in the summer, the world seems to have forgotten the front lines who are struggling to make ends meet. Companies such as Loblaws ended their ‘pandemic’-pay for the front line workers (who generally say they don’t want platitudes about being heroes, but rather the chance to be safe and respected in dangerous times) in our essential grocery stores and pharmacies, while posting fantastic profits.

Health care workers, of course, are essential and exhausted and need our help, but most people remember and respect them far more than those in some of the riskiest non-healthcare settings. There are people who abuse, berate, and belittle, even literally spit on retail workers.

They do not deserve that kind of treatment. Even those who object to wearing masks should recognize that a grocery store clerk, or even a clerk at a pharmacy, is not a soldier in an army. Even if an anti-maskers believes there is a war going on, they should at least recognize that clerks in this situation, are hostage to the need to make a living, and whose maintaining a roof over their head, and food on their table, requires them to follow the public health orders, even if they agree with anti-maskers and believe as the anti-maskers.

An anti-masker, if they thought about it, should recognize that a clerk who ‘believes in’ covid (covid doesn’t care if you believe it exists or not, but I digress) is in an even more dire predicament. They are are, in that case, aware of being forced to work in circumstances that are dangerous and unpredictable, and in which they become targets of abuse and deliberate attacks on their health and possibly their lives.

Taking out a grocery store clerk, or abusing them, or refusing to comply with their request to wear a mask, doesn’t prove that your are fighting tyranny; it makes you tyrannical against those with no power and not reasonable ability to change things.

In short, it’s time (and past time) that our front-line clerks and forgotten essential workers get compensated for the hazards they face on a daily basis.


Credit for photo of a monument in Bangladesh identified by the ID BD-C-33-59": Navid Mehedi Al Arefin, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International, via Wikimedia Commons