News | April 30th, 2020

The Risks of Being Essential

By: Alyssa Blake
The Risks of Being Essential

The importance of essential workers, like grocery clerks, waste collectors, and coach operators, have always been a topic of debate. But, the novel coronavirus has made it undeniably clear that these workers hold an important place in society. These professions don’t take years of experience or a college degree, but these jobs are helping keep this country afloat during this crisis.

The coronavirus has swept the nation and cost many Americans their jobs, but essential workers are needed more than ever right now. Many people feel like essential workers are lucky and that they should be grateful to be employed right now and while many of them are, it doesn’t take away from the stress that comes along with working during this pandemic.

Essential workers don’t have the option of working from home, so they go out and put their health at risk every day as they’re exposed to many different people who may be carriers of COVID-19. The stress and constant worry that comes with working right now can be overbearing.

Da’zaha Jackson is a FAMU student that shared her experience working as a grocery store clerk at Winn-Dixie and constantly interacting with people through the week for her job. She is constantly stressed, due to the possibility of contracting the virus every time she walks into her job.

“My biggest concern right now is being exposed to the virus,” Jackson said. “I constantly worry about the risk of bringing it home to my family.”

Tarell Randolph is a recent FAMU graduate who is employed at a local power plant and he shared similar concerns about having to work right now.

“I’ve been trying to make sure that all of the employees around me follow the social distancing rules,” Randolph said. “My biggest concern is making sure I don’t unknowingly pass the virus to someone in my family.”

The stress from working at such a difficult time isn’t the only thing that essential workers have to deal with. They also have to deal with the way that society is treating them. Most people are grateful for essential workers, but that doesn’t take away from the concerns of being near someone who is working around so many different people daily.

“I feel like whenever people see me while I’m out grocery shopping, they act like they’re scared to be around me,” Randolph said. “I think people who aren’t working in the same environment as treat me like I’m infected.”

Employers are also dealing with the stress of working during this pandemic. Supervisors and managers aren’t interacting with customers as much as their employees are, but they still have to deal with the stress of protecting their employees as well as their customers.

Willie Burns is a coach operator supervisor and he is doing everything that he can to keep his employees safe right now.

Coach operators provide transportation to people all over Tallahassee by providing bus services through Star Metro and other transportation companies.

“We’ve been giving employees N-95 masks and gloves, as well as limiting the amount of people who are allowed on the bus at once,” Burns said. “A lot of people that ride the bus have been upset, because of the new system that we have to follow, but we’re just trying our best to keep everyone safe.”

This is a stressful time for everyone right now, regardless of if you’re working from home or in the direct line of fire. It’s important to remember that those who are working in the public have to also deal with the stress of this life-threatening virus and its effects on their mental health, as well as their families.

Essential workers go out and put their lives on the line for different reasons. Some of them work because they have no choice. work, because of the passion they have for their job, but regardless of the reason they all have one thing in common: All of our essential workers are putting their lives on the line every day.

No one knows when this virus will go away, but it’s important that we’re considerate of each other right now. When you talk to essential workers, think about the stress that they’re under and offer them kindness and consideration. It’s important to realize that though these people are fortunate to still have a job, they are still risking their lives every day and they don’t know when working will be safe for them again.