Cohorted Cult bring you real-life interviews from those working directly on the front line during the Coronavirus pandemic. Introducing Holly, a Supermarket ‘Picker’ working throughout COVID-19. Stay Safe, #StayHome.
1. Background Information: Name, Age, Job Role
My name is Holly, I’m 22 and my job is a ‘picker’ at Tesco.
2. What made you want to become a supermarket worker?
I needed something to keep me going and I had previous experience working in a supermarket. I wanted to work somewhere where I knew my work would be worthwhile and in the current climate, a picker is a really important role in supermarkets.
3. What is an average day for your job role?
An average working day for me starts at 3 am, when I wake up to get ready for a 4 am start. I spend my shift as a ‘picker’, walking around the supermarket picking from the shop floor and packing the online orders, ready for them to be taken out and delivered in the van.
4. What is the new reality of working on the front line as a supermarket worker, in the current climate?
The reality of working in the supermarket during these times is the fact the workload has grown, meaning there is at least double the number of online orders compared to ‘pre corona’ times. Saying that, the team has also expanded with additional temporary staff (such as myself) being hired to keep on top of the growing demand. Because of this increase in workload, we are then required to work more hours. For example, ‘pickers’ usually begin at 6 am, but we now start at 4 am to give us more time before the customers start shopping in-store at 8 am.
5. Have the PPE shortages personally impacted the way you work/people around you?
The PPE shortage has not affected me personally or the way we, as a team, do our daily tasks. I choose not to wear a mask or gloves (which I’m sure I can request from a manager if I wanted to use them). However, I do take extra caution and wash my hands as often as possible, using antibacterial hand gel after every trolley I finish picking.
6. What have been the most difficult/personal moments for you?
The most difficult thing for me personally, is knowing that at the end of the day, I am putting myself at risk by working somewhere, like a supermarket. Although, when I’m actually there and I’m keeping busy working, I tend to forget that and just get on with it. At the end of the day, if I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid!
7. Have there been times where you wanted to do more, but have been held back due to lack of resources?
In my role at work, I feel there’s not much more I can do, in order to ‘give more’ to help the situation. I think in general, there’s a lot we can do/could have done in order to help prevent the spread of the virus. But I think at the moment, anyone who is still working is doing their part and every little helps in the current climate. I find it quite frustrating to see on my social media people still meeting up with their friends and socialising with each other. We’re all in the same boat and we will see each other again eventually, but for now, the rules are in place for a reason and it’s not fair for some people to think the rules don’t apply to them!
8. With that said, have YOU had any rewarding moments which helps motivate you?
What motivates me, is that some of the orders I am picking are for the vulnerable people who can’t/ are at risk when leaving their houses to do food shopping themselves. It’s really rewarding to know that you’ve helped someone amongst this, no matter how small or large the action is!
9. How has this pandemic influenced your home life?
Me and my boyfriend were in the process of doing works on our new house and were due to move in soon, which has understandably been delayed. Throughout the lockdown, I have been staying at my mum’s house with my mum, my boyfriend, my two sisters and grandad, so it’s a pretty full house. 4/6 of us are still working, so we will only go out for work. My youngest sister is 14 and is doing all her schoolwork from her computer. My grandad is doing jobs for mum around the house, helping with little bits and painting etc! It’s actually really nice to have everyone home, but it works because we all have our own spaces to escape to!
10. What do you do to maintain your self-care routine, to encourage relaxation at the end of the day? – Netflix and chill or maintain a regular routine?
I finish work at a different time each day, but usually by around 10/11 am. I come home and sort out whatever jobs need doing. Then I tend to have a sit-down and relax whilst watching something on tv (I just finished ‘tiger king’!). I aim to have some dinner around 5ish, after which shower and get ready for bed – I have to be asleep by 8 pm latest because if I don’t get at least 7 hours sleep, I will not function the next day. I’m still finding ways to use my time to take care of myself.