A cloak of invisibility

I keep hearing the phrase ‘unprecedented times’. Well, yesterday I did something that I’m embarrassed to admit was unprecedented. I had a conversation with a shelf stacker. Not a quick “Can you tell me where I can find the salad cream?” but an actual conversation: “How are you coping? This panic buying is nuts isn’t it? Thank you for working so hard for us.”

I keep hearing the phrase ‘unprecedented times’. Well, yesterday I did something that I’m embarrassed to admit was unprecedented. I had a conversation with a shelf stacker. Not a quick “Can you tell me where I can find the salad cream?” but an actual conversation: “How are you coping? This panic buying is nuts isn’t it? Thank you for working so hard for us.”

He shrugged and nodded; smiled widely as we considered the piles of toilet paper taking over people’s living rooms, then a little more awkwardly when I offered my thanks. I think the conversation was quite unprecedented for him too.

NHS staff are working so hard to save lives. They are brave, kind and resilient. They are experts who have risen to this challenge with professionalism and great composure. But we already knew that they were brilliant – this pandemic has just highlighted that truth in bright illuminated colour.

We are only now learning how important shelf stackers are, keeping us stocked with the bare necessities of life. And cleaners, killing the virus in our homes, offices and public places. And delivery drivers, enabling us to self isolate in comfort while they are forced to balance heightened demand against increased risk.

We all hope that these unprecedented times will return to regular old precedented ones soon. That we’ll once again have all the freedoms that we’ve never before realised were gifts of circumstance rather than unquestionable rights. At Mash, our ‘why’ comes from a fundamental belief in the power of human connection, so an environment built on social distancing goes against everything we hold true.

But when we emerge from this crisis I hope we don’t forget the people that kept this country going. Yes the NHS, ambulance, police and social care staff that saved lives and protected us, the media that kept us informed and the charities that remembered those unable to help themselves as the rest of us shifted our priorities.

But also the previously invisible roles – the shelf stackers, cleaners, delivery drivers, public transport workers, refuse collectors. Every job is important, and every person behind that job deserves our gratitude.

And when you’re next on a hunt for some groceries, I can highly recommend sparking up a conversation with a shelf stacker. They’ve got some great toilet roll jokes too.

unsplash-logoJohn Cameron

Share this

Posted by

MASH Staffing