Calling Me a Hero Only Makes You Feel Better

Grocery store workers from area retailers including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Stop & Shop, and Shaw’s, gathered with a small group of supporters to protest against what they say is unfair and unsafe treatment of grocery store workers during the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic outside of the Ink Block Whole Foods grocery store in Boston, Massachusetts, on Tue., April 7, 2020. The demonstrators asked for time-and-a-half hazard pay; personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks and gloves; and paid sick leave. Grocery store workers have been deemed essential employees in Massachusetts and many other states during so-called shelter-in-place orders.

Working in a grocery store has earned me and my co-workers a temporary status. After years of being overlooked, we suddenly feel a sense of responsibility, solidarity, and pride. On a private Facebook group page for my company, Trader Joe’s, one employee from Washington State posted a picture of a company-issued work shirt hanging from the ceiling of the store. A sign attached to the shirt read not all heroes wear scrubs.

I’m grateful to be acknowledged for the risky work we’re doing. Being in an environment where morale is up despite global uncertainty is encouraging. But I have a problem with all this hero talk. It’s a pernicious label perpetuated by those who wish to gain something—money, goods, a clean conscience—from my jeopardization.

Story length: 876 words

Read the full story here (Includes related 6:35 min VIDEO clip)

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