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Service with a Smile

Updated: Nov 10, 2022




According to recent news, there is a new appreciation for service workers. This is a product of covid 19 and the knowledge of the woes of service workers throughout the pandemic. Finally service workers have been in the spotlight being among our frontline workers and their importance to our society is now beginning to be understood.


 

Service workers in the past have always had to deal with some unruly people, but with the pandemic, incidents rose due to frayed nerves with mask mandates, one way traffic in stores, long waits to get through checkouts and bare grocery shelves. It's no wonder our nerves were frayed, on both sides of the cash register. Those who disagreed with the news and restrictions of the day would take their frustrations out on retail , and service workers and sometimes other customers. The societal level of frustration was palpable.


 

Grocery workers were now having to corral people into long lines, sanitizing the belt between every single customer and were often asked to help stock clerks fill the bare shelves. They also had to cool tempers between customers some of whom did not respect the health regulations of the time. Carts had to be sanitized after each customer too. There was plenty of extra work to do for little reward.


Other retail workers now had to collect online and in person orders for when their store was not open to the public. A kind of shipping and receiving role instead of in person shopping and checkout. A role that many customers did not appreciate nor like, voicing their dislike on the workers. They had more responsibility and again, little reward. During this period, signs went up across retail and health centres nationwide expressing no abuse policies.


Food service workers were among the hardest hit with restaurants having to completely shut down or shift to take out only. Part time staff and servers were the first to get layoffs, many of whom could not afford to not work and had to seek out employment in other industries. A hard feat considering everywhere else was shut down too.


Small business owners had an awful time keeping up with and following constantly evolving health regulations. Having limited capacity for in store shopping, or being shut down completely was bad for sales and they still had to come up with their rent and retain their employees. They were forced to digitize their entire inventories to be able to sell goods. Small business owners also often don't have benefits and underpay themselves to keep their businesses afloat.



Over the course of the pandemic these workers went faithfully to work when the rest of the world was staying home, in order to provide us folk with essential goods and services. Quite typical of having little job security or benefits, many of these positions are filled by youth and seniors, or undereducated people. Our youth haven't had the opportunities to advance yet, and our seniors still need to work to supplement their incomes. or are there to enjoy the pleasures of being active in our communities. The undereducated, having the least amount of opportunities typically, due to family circumstances and the like. Too often in the past, have these jobs been seen as lesser, undervalued in society and often only pay minimum wage or little above it. Their actual value, and the people working them, in our society though is second to none as seen by how much we needed them in crises and their answer to our call.


 

In recent news, restaurant owners were highlighted for being in desperate need of workers. Many of which had moved on to more stable employment. It has been suggested that people were spoiled with the national CERB program and got lazy from what's been touted as a handout. A ridiculous notion as the program doesn't exist anymore and let's face it in this market, $2000/month doesn't go far. We are certainly experiencing shortages in the workforce as seen recently with closures of in dining fast food restaurants and such.


 

One possible reason for this is that people now know, that they have to strive for more than what this industry can offer them. Part time hours, no benefits and minimum wage don't cut it in this economy. Why not offer some incentives to stay, with help to small businesses, and an expectation of corporations to pay living wages. I'm sure the workforce would show up. If now we understand the importance of our entire workforce, it should be apparent that every person should have equal respect and equal opportunity. We all play a role in our society and all of these roles are important and integral to the functioning of it. The new found appreciation and a smile is a good start.







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