‘I worry on the walk to work about the abuse I’ll get’

A retail worker as told how she walks to work wondering how many abusive customers she will face in a shift.

The mum-of-two, who works in a city shop, told LeicestershireLive that while most people are understanding of coronavirus rules, she is subject to daily abuse from others who are not.

At first, she said, what worried her was catching the virus.

“The first day I went back to work I was scared,” she said. “I’d been at home for the whole of lockdown, shielding my daughter because she’s asthmatic.

“I was really worried on the walk in, but my employer’s been brilliant and I couldn’t fee safer, we’re behind screens, we have full PPE, I’m not worried at all about being at work.”

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What she was not prepared for, however, was the verbal attacks she would get from some customers.

“Now on the walk in, I find myself wondering how many mouthfuls of abuse I’ll get that day,” she said.

“If I serve 100 customers in a day, it might only be one or two that are abusive or nasty, but it puts you off coming in the next day.”

Topics which get some people riled enough for them to abuse her, she said, included the wearing of masks, social distancing rules and paying with a card instead of cash.

“Most people are lovely and appreciative, they’ll have a chat and be polite,” she said.

“But if I see someone walk in without a mask on, I almost daren’t say anything.

“And when I asked one man if he could use his card instead of cash, he was very intimidating,” she said. “He squared up a bit, and it was really threatening.”

100 days of lockdown in Leicester

Lockdown life out of work has also had its challenges for the 35-year-old, who lives in Leicester.

“We’ve missed my nan’s 80th,” she said. “I got a brief conversation and great view of her ceiling on FaceTime, but no celebration.

“It’s hard, because as bad as it sounds you don’t know how long there is left, and it makes you wonder if you’ll see people properly again.

“There’s been three babies born in the family and I’ve not met any of them. One of them is five months old.

“I feel like we’ve all missed out on so much.”

Living on the edge of the local lockdown zone has added to the heartache.

“One of the worst things about being back at work is people coming in and buying things and telling me they’re off to see their mum or nan or friend that they haven’t seen for ages, and all the time I’m stood there knowing I can’t do that,” she said.

“It’s the one thing – I just want to hug my nan, spend time with the family, see everyone and all be together again.

“It feels like such a long time ago that we all did see each other in March, and it feels like it will be such a long time until we can do it again.”

She blames lockdown fatigue for some people’s behaviour.

“The one thing people always say to me is, ‘I don’t know anyone’s who’s had it’.

“I do, but I understand people being fed up, especially in Leicester.

“It’s easy for people from other areas to forget that we have now had two lockdowns really, and the national one didn’t end before the local one started, so that means people have gone all that time without seeing their loved ones. It’s so difficult.

“My kids are at school again now, mixing with children from families that might not have stuck to the rules – but I can’t go and see my nan. There’s so much of it that doesn’t make sense, but we all just have to carry on and play our part.

“It’s frustrating because we have so little control over it all. I don’t necessarily agree with some of the rules and I didn’t vote for the people making them, but I’ve followed them and that does make it annoying to see others not.”

Leicestershire Live – Leicester News