Vacant and desolate shelves, the shrill squealing of shopping cart wheels flying throughout aisles, checkout lines packed chock-full of frightened customers and employees getting asked the same questions over and over again. Some might think that what I just described is something straight out of the beginning of a post-apocalyptic movie, but in reality it is my first-hand account of what myself and many, many others are witnessing as a retail employee during these past few weeks.
When I returned home for spring break, I was expecting to work some quick, easy shifts for a single week before returning back to campus the following Sunday. Instead, I was first greeted by an email saying that all in-person classes would be switching over to online classes for two weeks. Then, as I was driving into the parking lot of my job, I was extremely shocked to see that there were very few open parking spots for a Friday morning, but I was yet to fully comprehend the full extent of what was happening inside the store. Once I walked through the doors, I was immediately astonished to see that every single register was open and being used, except registers 14 and 15.
Throughout all of my years working at Shaw’s, I have never seen the store this busy. It was busy enough to the point where the store was busier than during the holiday season, which is normally our busiest time of year. The whole situation fully hit me when the front end manager told me to clock in about 30 minutes early because they were all completely overwhelmed from the sheer number of customers. I have never once heard the words, “I know it’s early, but could you please clock in right now Andrew?” come out of my manager’s mouth before, especially since my manager is extremely unyielding about allowing employees to clock in early.
One of my biggest issues with the whole panic buying frenzy is that people are gathering in huge crowds, which is the exact opposite of what they should be doing. Instead of going out to go and hoard toilet paper and paper towels, people should be staying home and only going out when they absolutely need to. If everyone were to actually practice social distancing, then coronavirus wouldn’t be able to spread nearly as fast. There is still a large majority of people who are acting like morons and are deciding to go out and continue with their daily activities because they either think that they are being brave or they just don’t think that this entire situation is as dire as it is.
I will end off by answering the most common question from customers: No, we do not know when we will get our next shipment of toilet paper, paper towels, eggs or hand sanitizer.
Andrew Chase can be contacted at