Editorial: Frustration Rears It Ugly Head

Posted: 2021-04-17 08:49:45 By: thebay

Is it too much to expect that a year later things would be making more sense? 

It's our second week of our third province-wide lockdown and it's no secret that people are starting to feel the pinch of the restrictions … again. Limiting the number of shoppers in stores is “old news.” 

But it's not until you're through the door that the confusion sets in: What are we allowed to buy? 

At first glance the list seems reasonable. Groceries; pet supplies; household cleaning supplies; pharmaceutical items; health care items; and personal care items. 

Fair enough. We need to eat and be healthy and clean. Our pets need to be fed and taken care of. Our homes need to be kept up because that keeps us happy and healthy as well. All of this is very straight forward and understood as essential. 

For the first time in Ontario, the big box stores are busy roping off aisles and refusing to sell items that have been deemed non-essential, a practice that has been happening in other provinces for months. Concerns are being raised about the grey-area needs, the “what abouts” as I like to call them. These are the items we can make arguments for … and many do make arguments: LOUDLY

For example, what about the parent whose child had a growth spurt and now their shoes don’t fit? Shoes count as clothing and didn't make the list, but isn’t it essential that a child has shoes? 

School supplies didn't make the list either, so if you need pens then the time has finally come to start rooting through the junk drawer. 

What about the neighbor who was taking advantage of the warm weather and wanted to hang his laundry outside, only to realize he didn't have clothes pins? Supplies for clean laundry are essential, as is doing laundry for his personal care, but the local dollar store will refuse to sell him clothes pins. 

It's an interesting situation where people are being forced to problem-solve and get creative to get things done instead of simply making a quick trip to the store. And guess what – they don't like it.

Over the past few days, groups have surfaced on social media in an attempt to organize protests being dubbed the 'Non-Essential Purchase.’ Their plan: go into stores, tear down the tape on blocked aisles and flood the checkouts with only non-essential items. It's a head shaker. 

We all want things to go back to how they were as soon as possible. Absolutely. Not one of us like being in long lines, being told what we can and can't buy, never mind not being able to spend time with people in, or outside of, our own homes. We're all tired.

That said, before signing up and storming your local department store, consider a few things. For starters, remember that our family, friends and neighbors work in these stores. They didn't decide what they can sell you and what they can't. They were told one morning that they'd get the responsibility to be the bearers of bad news and were probably warned that they 'may experience some frustrated customers.’ That's all they were armed with when the province went into lockdown again. 

These people are essential to the stores staying open. These people were supported and celebrated as heroes this time last year. So, what happened?

They've tried to manage their on-again off-again relationship with a routine work environment as lockdowns come and go. One week they're going to work at a store that's open to public while the next they're dragging your purchases out to your car to possibly be the lucky recipients of a polite smile and 'Thank You!' but are more likely met with complaints and various other types of negativity. 

For clarity: No one wishes that you could go into a store and pick out your own items more than these people. No one. The stress that comes with being the messenger, telling you that while you ordered 10 tubes of outdoor caulking, they only have five in the color you wanted, or that they don't have the brand of cat food your feline friend prefers but they can offer something similar. It's not easy, they're worn out and, for the majority, the pay bumps and bonuses have been non-existent for months.

These are people who have been jumping through hoops for a year now contending with plans that were thought up during Zoom calls from managers that had the luxury of working from home. Meanwhile we are all left scratching our heads with every rule change, and every single encounter we have every day in our attempt to go about our daily lives.

On both sides there is frustration at the decisions being made on our behalf; it simply won't help if we turn on each other. Remember who is making these decisions and leaving us to handle it. When you're waiting for your curbside order, please arrive armed with your mask, ID and a kind word (Thank You will do the trick) for the people doing their best to help you until we can all get back to some semblance of normal.


By Jennifer Turney, for