France: supermarket cashier during an epidemic

The entirety of France has supposedly been in lookdown since 16 March. Macron said it and the media repeated it: “Stay home!”. Personally, like millions of other workers, I can not isolate myself. I continue to go out each day to work as a cashier in a “fair” minimarket. Although, the sales are reaching record highs and the boss sends us raving emails each day to congratulate us on our role in this “national effort”.

Read the original in French

While the number of customers in store has gone through the roof, so too has the risk of infection, the first precautionary measures had to be taken by the employees themselves. We retrieved old latex gloves from the cupboard: they come in boxes of 50, barely enough for a day’s work. When we can, we disinfect the registers, the baskets and everything else that the customers could potentially touch. But we are too short staffed to have enough time to do everything correctly. Before the pandemic, our lack of workforce had already become a permanent problem thanks to poor decision making from management. Today, it’s even worse with people taking sick leave.

There is also the problem of the clientele, panicked by the shortages and the disease. The clients hurry and even refuse to obey the safety rules we tried putting in place. It took five days, and for us to stop being polite, for them to wait outside the shop whilst the number of people inside was at the maximum allowed.

We lack gloves, we haven’t got any masks nor hand sanitiser, except from time to time when the boss finds some. They should soon be installing glass screens on our cash registers to help separate limit contact with the customer and overcome the lack of masks - yet more surfaces to clean, yet more work to do. “Chin up! you’ll get a bonus for this!” say’s the boss encouragingly who never forgets to remind us to keep smiling, to maintain our firm’s positive image.