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Story Unmasked: Anonymous, Grocery Store Worker at Pusateri's (Ontario)

Updated: May 1

Interviewed by Sophia Jin



What is your occupation?


I work at Pusateri’s as a Pastry Expert. I handle three different counters which are all under the pastry umbrella, so we manage the fridge, which is stuff we get delivered from different companies, and the Café where we make a bunch of different drinks and we also provide breakfast pastries. In the bread department, which is the same department as mine just as a joint, we bake loaves in the morning, we unpackage deliveries, and we slice loaves for people.


What are some of your hobbies and interests?


I enjoy reading, running, baking and drawing.


How have things been different for you during the pandemic

compared to before the pandemic?


For me, it has been a window into some normalcy, which is nice. My parents are working from home, and my brother, who is in University, does everything online so I’m really the only person who goes out and it’s kind of a break from sitting inside and worrying about what you could be doing and actually getting out there and doing something. I started working near the beginning of the pandemic, where I was just so desperate for a job because I was going crazy. I would run a lot, just because I had nothing to do and I would sit in my room looking at my phone for hours.




What's something about your role/job that most people might not know about?


A lot of it is quite labour intensive. My department has a lot of different varying jobs, you’re never really assigned to anything you just have to find work to keep yourself busy. Sometimes I get sent down to the basement to get supplies and that’s cake boxes, or things from the freezer and they are quite heavy and there’s a lot of them so we have to lug them back and forth. I find that people don’t realize that not even with customer service but at Pusateri’s, there’s a high bar of customer relationship, so being friendly and verbally interactive is encouraged. You have to put up with a lot of slack from people, though. There are some people who are a little entitled; we sold Windex for thirty dollars which says enough about our clientele. We also deal with a lot of backlash, but I think that’s just retail in general when it comes to dealing with bad customers.”


What’s something that you wish you could tell others that would help make your job a bit

easier?


I wish people knew that we can’t hear you as much as you can’t hear us! We have this plastic case so people don’t cough on the baked goods and it also acts as a little border. We have masks and a shield, and the shield actually covers our ears, so it’s really hard to hear people. Some people get mad when I’m like ‘Hi there, how can I help you?’ in a loud voice. I in particular get into a little trouble at work because I can’t hear that well. Some customers get angry when I ask ‘pardon?’ because you can only ask a certain amount of times before it gets weird, right? But I really hate it when they ask me ‘do you know English?’. They can’t hear us, and we can’t hear them, so sometimes people get impatient really quick.


They can’t hear us, and we can’t hear them, so sometimes people get impatient really quick.

How have you coped and managed with the difficulties of Covid-19?



Honestly, there’s nothing too substantial about the inconveniences, they are all quite minimal like it’s really a question of convenience versus struggle. It sucks having to wear masks, face shields and we have to leave with our shield on, so I tend to bump into stuff with my shield because it is quite big! But I think there aren’t that many inconveniences because considering the fact that it is Covid, there’s a regulated amount of people that can enter the store so the workload hasn’t been that bad. One thing that’s hard though, is that some of my co-workers, who are immigrants from the Philippines have to pay money back to support their family members and the problem with Covid now is that there are less people coming into the stores which means they need less people to work so hours have been cut. People are quite upset, and it’s such a big burden, especially since many of my co-workers are young, and hold lots of family duties.


People are quite upset, and it’s such a big burden, especially since many of my co-workers are young, and hold lots of family duties.

If you could speak to yourself before the pandemic, what's something you would tell

yourself?


Cut your hair. Get your haircut! No, I would say to use my time well. I think the one thing people kind of take for granted is that we’re all complaining about the situation but it’s going to be a really long time until this happens again, where we have the time to be at home with family, and getting stuff done that we didn’t have the time for before, because I’m always in my house. And drink water! Staying hydrated is so much easier at home.


Is there a particularly memorable moment or experience you had during the pandemic that you would like to share?


I discovered dry shampoo and learned to wax my eyebrows!


What's one good thing that's happened to you in 2020?


I’ve been quite active, physically. I really want abs so I’ve been taking progression photos. I started to do weight training, too.


What motivates/inspires you?


I'm motivated because I like customer service, because it’s just good social skills. I can be a bit awkward when dealing with people— but when you’re in uniform, you’re not as stressed out, so I like talking to people because there are some characters that come in. I like the regulars in particular. There’s an old lady named Liz that always comes by every Friday and she always gets the same thing. She’s just so sweet and she knows all our names by first name. Personally, I want to support myself when I’m older because I grew up quite lucky and I haven't had to deal with anything adversity wise, so I feel that I just owe it to my parents to be able to back up myself when I’m older.


I like the regulars in particular. There’s an old lady named Liz that always comes by every Friday and she always gets the same thing. She’s just so sweet and she knows all our names by first name.

What’s one fun fact about you?


I can lick my elbow!


If you could have a superpower, what would it be?


I would choose the power to stop time and to not age in the time I’ve stopped. You can do literally anything.


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