I didn’t realise how scared I was until I didn’t have to go to work anymore. The best thing that happened to me last month was a text message from my manager informing me that all counter staff were not to go to work as of Monday. Phew!
For the last sixteen months I have worked in travel retail at the local airport. The airport has a footfall of 10 million passengers a year, so it’s not always quiet. When I first started work at the airport, our worry was people leaving their luggage unattended. Now it is the enemy you can’t even see. Wash your hands!
The last three and a half months have got steadily worse on a daily basis. In December we all heard about the outbreak of coronavirus in China, but it seemed so far away. As it made its deadly way across the globe and into Europe, things got remarkably worse. New measures started to come into effect. Some of these measures we already practice. As a professional we constantly wash our hands and practice good hygiene by always sterilising our hands and customers before touching them. One of the things that has always horrified me is testers! I know I harp on about this all the time, but why would you use something that other people could have potentially contaminated? Working alongside both skincare and make-up brands, I found myself asking people not to use mascara direct from the tube. Or telling people they were really brave by applying cream to their skin after sticking their fingers in it as opposed to using a spatula to use the product! I could scream!
By January I was concerned because I had a long-haul flight booked in celebration of my husband’s big birthday. By February I was hyperventilating at the sheer thought of this holiday. I left work one day to go home and tell him we needed to cancel it. We were about to lose a lot of money, but I made him see sense that, if everyone is walking around with face masks on, were we actually going to enjoy ourselves? And at the time, Singapore (one of our destinations) was the second highest country with coronavirus outside of China.
I have never felt so happy to lose thousands of pounds, but you cannot put a price on your health. The money was long gone – it just didn’t come into it.
But while I am on one, the amount of people who use a public toilet and never wash their hands is staggering! We do not have our own staff toilets at the airport, so we have to use the passenger ones. After working there for a short time, you quickly learn which are the cleanest ones. I am mortified by the lack of personal hygiene that the general public choose to ignore.
So, going back to what I started to write, yes, on reflection I was petrified of catching this virus. Serving people who pick up your products, when you don’t know what’s on their hands. Serving customers who have a face mask on. They obviously have an illness that they do not wish to pass on to me. Keeping your distance when serving customers as some people manage to spit all over you when talking to you.
I had to learn the art of opening doors without touching them. Using your feet or forearms, but also remaining paranoid not to touch anything with your skin, and never touching your face.
Stress, it wasn’t the half of it!
ELC, thank you for that text!
But now after a couple of weeks of working at home, the feeling of anxiousness has crept in. I do go out each day, but only as the sun is rising. My reason for this is that I don’t run into other people. Now I question whether I am suffering agoraphobia? How am I going to cope going back to work? Mixing with strangers?
I can sense therapy coming on!
Take care and stay safe.