It’s another day at Weavers Way Chestnut Hill, where a swirling group of staff endeavors to fill and deliver, or make available, more grocery orders than the store can comfortably handle. The supply chains are erratic and it’s possible some customers are greedy. Nearly everyone who works here now fills orders and a handful of us deliver.
I don’t know how many of our shoppers are aware, but our esteemed store manager, Dean Stefano, has been missing in action since the new coronavirus erupted. He had major surgery weeks ago and is not yet fit enough to return. So, the onus has been on Assistant Manager Valerie Baker and Front End Manager Kellie O’Heron to manage this volcano of a transition, with its constant challenges.
I asked Alfonso Lassiter, one of our senior cashiers who’s also a fine artist, how he felt about our current situation. He said he worried about people who are unemployed and hungry and was grateful that he had a job and that his wife could work from home. I’m grateful that I’m self-sufficient, and it’s a relief to be earning a bit more than usual.
By the end of the day, my hands feel like they’ve had an intimate encounter with a meat tenderizer and I’m soo sick of wearing gloves! The masks are no fun, either. In many of us, they invoke claustrophobia, and the constant swerving around people is no fun for those without perfect balance.
Along with the challenges come the moments of grace. Recently, I swung by the home of one of my regular delivery customers with some coveted toilet paper and decided to park on the street and walk. On the way back, I spotted a stand of pussy willows. The sunlight was shining just right behind them and they looked like scores of furry insects swarming up the branches. I continued on, with a spring in my step.
I am impressed and humbled by what everyone has managed to pull together: hundreds of orders filled every week; arranging the store so that a few customers can still shop; providing different meals now that the hot bar is closed; managing with reduced cash registers because of the closeness, helping each other find obscure items. Thanks also to a particularly chivalrous customer, who went above and beyond for me the other day.
“Excuse me,” I asked. “Are you limber enough to retrieve something from the very back of a bottom shelf, please?”
He knelt down, tush in the air, and found the last jar of mayo for one of my regular customers. That’s cooperation!