Day in the life of an essential worker: Madison Lott

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Photo courtesy of Madison Lott.

In light of the current pandemic, everyone is doing their part. For some, that means staying home, but not everyone has that luxury. Those who work at hospitals, grocery stores and banks must continue to work during this time, as they are essential.

Madison Lott, senior elementary education major, is one of those essential workers. Lott works at Cosentino’s Price Chopper in Kansas City, where she is the supervisor in the customer service department.

One of her many duties is floorwalking, where she helps cashiers and customer service with any issues that may arise. She is also in charge of which cashiers go on break, which employees are bringing carts in from outside and other administrative tasks.

Another important duty Lott has is counting all the money that comes into the store, from lottery tickets to WICs to coupons. Lott said that even before the pandemic she was cautious about handling the money, but she is now much more careful. 

“I have this weird fear that me and my other coworkers in customer service will be the ones to catch it first, because of all the money and items we handle,” Lott said.

Lott also expresses her fear that if she or someone at her house gets sick, she must quarantine herself for two weeks, which would mean she would not be paid during that time. 

“That may not be a huge deal for some people, but as a college student that handles all their own bills and pays for their own schooling, that is a lot of money to lose out on,” Lott said.

As to what has changed throughout the store, Lott details an extensive list: reduced store hours and a one-hour shopping window for those more at risk, plexiglass coverings at every register and no returns or exchanges allowed. There are also now employees whose only job is to clean continuously. Additionally, customers have to walk a certain one-way path throughout the store, and the number of customers in the store at one time has been limited to 255. Each cart can only have one customer at it. 

Lottery tickets must be purchased from a machine now, and employees cannot touch customer’s Price Chopper cards. Masks and gloves have been given to employees if they wish to wear them. The deli’s buffet-style soup and salad bar have been closed.

Lott also said that the store is constantly out of items like toilet paper and cleaning supplies. The store now gets daily shipments of these items, but the shipments themselves are scarce. Before the pandemic there were just weekly shipments of these items, Lott detailed.

For Lott, a typical day before the pandemic included class from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., teaching clinicals from 1-3 p.m. and then work from 4-10:30 p.m. However, she no longer has clinicals, so her schedule is the same except she goes into work at 1 p.m. instead.

She also explained how understanding her managers are, as they know she is a full-time student. On weeks when she has tests and papers, Lott says that her managers reduce her hours to 30 instead of the usual 35-39.

As to how she keeps up with everything, Lott uses a detailed planner to keep her on a strict schedule. She also has a family that supports her, especially when she feels overwhelmed. Additionally, Lott makes sure to schedule time for herself, which usually includes walking her dogs.

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