Roller coaster ride

I hate roller coasters. Anyone who really knows me also knows that I hate them, passionately. It’s not that I don’t recognize that they are a form of amusement, loved by millions, I get that. It’s just not for me. I hate that feeling in the pit of my stomach, that feeling of freefall that makes one queasy. It was once explained to me in an Abnormal Psychology class that it triggers the fight or flight response in people. Guess which one it triggers in me.

I mention roller coasters not because I’ve gotten on one, or am planning on getting on one soon. Not a chance. However, these past few months have felt like a roller coaster ride, metaphorically speaking. There has been fear, anxiety, calm, exhaustion, excitement, apathy, anger, and the list keeps getting larger.

I’ve been one of the lucky ones who has a job that is deemed essential. I say lucky, but there have been a few times that I wished that I didn’t have an essential job, not because I’m ungrateful, but rather because I hate roller coaster rides, so to speak.

Working retail is a trying job. It’s a lot of work, you put up with a lot of abuse from customers. It’s monotonous. It’s tiring. Add to that the uncertainty of today’s economic climate, the fact that people – sheltering at home with nothing to do – are seeking projects to do around the house, and business is booming. I’m so fortunate to be working at the company I’m at.

The downside is that so many people are not pleasant. To be fair, most customers are following guidelines, social distancing, keeping complaining to a minimum, etc. But the sheer number of people coming in is boggling. Also, more people are buying online to pick up at the store. Some are wanting us to deliver. We struggle to keep up.

But the real issue is those few people, miserable and unhappy, wanting nothing more than to complain. Those who seem to relish yelling at associates, even if they are minors, even when they have no say in what policies are implemented, at the inconvenience of the shopping experience.

Some shout profanities at the shortened business day, others at having to wait in line to enter the store due to limits being imposed on our business. Some are angry that people are wearing masks when the whole Covid-19 is nothing more than a hoax. Others are angry that not everyone is wearing a mask.

There was a time a few weeks ago when I wanted nothing more than to turn in my keys and walk out. I had had enough. The increased volume has led to an increase in freight coming in, and my own exhaustion started to catch up. I celebrated my birthday at work, a whole year older. I did not take it as gracefully as I thought I would. A slight from a friend compounded that point miserably.

So I took a step back. I limited some interactions with those who were making me unhappy. I took a deep breath and came to terms with the fact that business as usual has changed. Sales are up, profits are up, and my workload has increased. I’m getting accustomed to the new normal.

What I’m not getting used to is the ugly nature of the human creature. Everyone is being affected by the plight of this damned plague. The uncertainty is casting a pall on our lives. All of our lives. Will we catch Covid-19? Will it be a minor case, or will it be a serious case leading to hospitalization and intubation. Will we die?

I’m struggling with the question as much as everyone else is. I struggle with it, but I get up and go to work each day. The anxiety that was crushing me during the first few weeks of this ordeal has waned. It isn’t gone, but it has become an annoying, persistent hum hissing in my ear.

This roller coaster is no longer going up and down and doing repeated loop-the-loops. I no longer feel the freefall and sudden g-forces shoving me all over the seat. I just wonder when the ride will actually stop so I can get off, or will the ride just start up again and make me hold on for dear life one more time.

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