Thu. Jul 2nd, 2020

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

What it means to be an essential worker and a college student during the time of Coronavirus

4 min read

Chick-Fil-A employees are considered essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. (ABC 13)

By LINDSEY BROWN

Staff Writer

As the countdown began for the last few seconds of 2019, I thought about how this past year had been the hardest year of my life. I knew 2020 was not going to be any easier, and I was prepared for the responsibilities ahead. I hoped in those last few seconds that 2020 would be my year, just like most everyone does, as cliche as it is to think that. I promised myself I would focus on taking care of myself, and not everyone else, which is something I tend to do.

This would be my second semester of working and going to school full-time. I had made it last semester by the grace of God. It certainly was one of the hardest things I had ever done, and I knew this semester was not going to be any different. I had to make some tough decisions and even as I am writing this, I am dealing with the repercussions from those decisions.
I started the semester with hopes of enjoying my last semester on campus with my friends. I have to take two summer classes, but we all know they are not the same as Fall and Spring semesters. With my degree just within my reach, I prayed for the motivation to finish school strong. I have been working towards my degree for six years now. After taking a year and a semester off, not consecutively, my work ethic in school has started to dwindle.

However, I knew working full-time would take a toll on me too. I work at Chick-Fil-A and  have been there a little over a year. I would be lying if I said that I love customer service. But I do love people, despite how they can be at times, and I love my coworkers. They are my family. They have seen me go through a lot in the past year. And I am so grateful for such an understanding and kind work family. I am actually blessed to have two great work families, I work part-time as a promotional assistant at a radio station company. They hired me right out of high school, so needless to say they have been there for me as well.

If someone had told me that this year would get even harder than I had anticipated I might not have believed them. When COVID-19 became more of a reality, and school went online, I couldn’t miss a beat. I just moved into a new place and began transitioning to online classes while working a 40 hour week.

The first week of classes online I got sick with a debilitating cold. I lost hours I could not afford to lose, and I was too exhausted to do anything, especially classes. And even after I got better the motivation to do classes online just was not there. To be honest with you, this is the first thing I have written that has actually flowed. As a writer and an English major, writer’s block is a terrible thing to face.Still to this day, I get home after work, and I do not want to spend hours in front of my computer. I want to sleep and watch Netflix like the rest of America. Working at a business that is considered essential has its perks. I am thankful to still have a job because I have bills to pay, but I am not a fan of the crazy rush hours we are getting only operating through drive-thru. And with the change in pace at work, we are busy right in the middle of the day. And because of that, our schedules are being changed to work with the busy times of the day. So I have to find time to do classes online at very odd times.

People come through and thank me for working, but I don’t really have a choice. I need to pay my bills. Chick-Fil-A has worked hard to try to keep their employees safe with masks, hand washing stations outside for headsets (people who take the orders outside), and rubber gloves. They have also started new procedures that help us social distance from the customers.

However, behind this struggle, I am very happy with my job most days, and I feel so blessed to have the ability to go to school. I have wonderful supportive friends that push me when I procrastinate, and not to mention a new roommate that makes sure my homework gets done, kinda like a mom. While this is a trying and scary time in our lives, there are many things to be thankful for.

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