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To the Sales Clerk Who Witnessed My Breakdown During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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I’m sorry for the breakdown I had in your store during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic — the new-to humans virus that causes respiratory infection and can lead to serious or fatal health complications.

I am single and live alone. I’m also self-employed in a non-essential service. So, I’ve been sitting at home by myself for a while. My days and nights aren’t well-defined since I’m using naps to cope with the stress. I usually have a pretty regular schedule, which helps me stay organized and focused. Even on the hard days, I know if I just go through the steps in my regular routine, I will (probably) get to work and end the day feeling more settled. But I barely know what day it is right now, much less have a regular schedule.

Which has affected my medications. Again, on a regular schedule, they are slotted into two parts of my day – before I get in the shower and before I go to bed. Now, well, having a shower is a stretch. And when it happens, it just happens.  This means my “before shower” meds have been missed a few times. Trust me, I understand the importance of taking your meds every day, on time, as prescribed. The days I’ve missed them, I use my lapse in memory as another weapon to use against myself. No, it’s not healthy to beat yourself up. I know. But it’s also hard to control when the world is so out of control.

Yesterday, I had a shower and I put on clean clothes — OK, clean pajamas — and I decided that for some quick but uplifting human contact, I would go to my local Starbucks. A decaf latte and a few kind words exchanged were just what I needed. But their hours had changed since the pandemic was declared and they were closed. So, I decided to go to the local pharmacy for some snacks. The pharmacy you work at.

I had a set amount of money I was going to allow myself to spend on snacks. Again, I’m not really working, so money is tight. But that night, I needed snacks. So, I walked through the aisles, carefully adding the cost of each item in my head.  I’m fairly good at math and can (usually) calculate sales tax and totals pretty easily. Yesterday, my brain failed me.

When you rang through my items, the total was quite off from what I had calculated in my head. I asked you to suspend the transaction as I put some things back. I was aiming for a certain number and my mind got fixed on that number. I wanted to get as close as I could, get the greatest number of snacks I could, without going over that number. It was like a twisted, internal game of “The Price is Right” but with an audience of just a few people — you and a couple of other customers who came after me. And no one was cheering me on. I asked you to suspend my transaction four times.

In the end, I went home with four old limes in addition to my snacks, because that got me as close as I could to that number. But I still had to give you the 75 cents in my wallet to ensure that I didn’t tip the balance in my bank account.  I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with the limes.

You were polite, even as I grew increasingly frantic. I must have been so annoying, and you are doing a difficult job right now. I’m thankful you are willing to work in customer service during this outbreak. But you didn’t sign up to see middle-aged women in Crocs and pajamas break down over snacks and invisible calculations you can’t see. So, I’m sorry I had a breakdown in your store during the pandemic. I’ll try not to do that again.

Struggling with anxiety due to COVID-19? Check out the following articles from our community:

Photo by Tbel Abuseridze on Unsplash

Originally published: April 4, 2020
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