Fights on the Frontlines

Workers sacrifice themselves for undeserving customers


Madison Seckman

PUSHING CARTS: Courtesy Clerk Mazin Klapperich brings in carts at King Soopers store 096. On the busiest days, such as Sundays, clerks bring in up to 15 carts at a time. Klapperich also expressed sorrow for those killed at the Boulder King Soopers on Mar. 22.

Madison Seckman, Design Editor

Every weekend, thousands of people head to their neighborhood King Soopers to buy groceries. Workers says that most shoppers don’t seem to realize the effects of the changes and sacrafices they have made for the pandemic.

Grocery stores, and many other public places, have changed due to the pandemic. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends only a certain amount of people in the store at once – some stores have one-way aisles, and almost everyone is wearing a mask.

March 2020, when the pandemic started, grocery store shelves were seemingly empty. Smaller grocery stores had to wait for the larger stores to fill their inventories before given supplies, so stores ran out of peculiar items like graham crackers and margarita mix.

Now, the shelves are mostly stocked, but the workers are still feeling the impact of the pandemic and the customers who refuse to abide by the rules of the CDC.

Some stores have someone sitting at the front doors telling customers to wear a mask, but without anyone there, many customers walk into the store without one. The amount of people in the store is also not strictly regulated. And when in the stores, many people do not wear masks correctly, instead pulling it below their noses – which has must less effect for preventing the spread of the virus.

Arapahoe High School junior and Courtesy Clerk Amity Taylor said she would prefer if there were “less people in the store at a time, like actually having a limit.”

Despite the few customers who disregard the law, the majority of people have settled with the mask mandate.

It took a lot of adjusting, but things are starting to settle into normalcy.

Gabe Manly, Creek junior and Courtesy Clerk, said “it really has become the new normal to, you know, social distance and wear a mask.”

The workers have been abiding by the mask mandate since May 2020 along with cleaning more frequently and attempting to social distance from customers. It’s almost been a full year, and masks are still being worn. The winter setting created new grievances regarding working and wearing masks.

“I especially don’t like doing carts now during the wintertime,” Creek senior and Courtesy Clerk at King Soopers Mazin Klapperich said. “Like I have to come in to change my mask because it gets so wet, and it’s gross.”

The masks can get wet when outside, but the masks can also be hot when worn inside because the temperature is raised in the store to accommodate for the cold weather.

And there’s a lot of workers inside. One of the front-end jobs on the inside, and sometimes outside with carts, is that of the Courtesy Clerk.

Courtesy Clerks are front-end workers that bring grocery carts into the store, do maintenance for bathrooms, floors, and trash, and bag customers’ groceries. Occasionally, Courtesy Clerks will also work as cashiers. Some cart loads can be up to 80 lbs of weight, and this store, store 096, has four of six cart corrals on downhill slopes from the store. Meaning, the Courtesy Clerks push 80 lbs of carts uphill to the store in every kind of weather.

Even with all their hard work, there’s always that one bad customer who can ruin someone’s whole day.

“[A customer] was complaining about the prices of the items that the cashier was scanning and totally thought it was the cashier’s fault,” Manly said. “So I kind of tried to stand up for [the cashier] and say that it’s not her fault, and that it’s a problem with the system. It made [the customer] very upset.”

Workers say some customers can be really inconsiderate towards the workers who are sacrificing their lives to be working during a pandemic.

“It’s not a super hard job, but it becomes harder if the customer is not being very kind,” Taylor said.

It’s times like these that everyone needs to show a little more kindness.

“Just be understanding if something goes wrong,” Manly said.

These King Soopers workers feel that they are putting their lives on the line every day.

“I’m out here, on the frontlines, trying to make a living, and they should be sort of courteous towards me because I’m just trying to help them out,” Klapperich said. “I don’t have to be there.”