This Q&A is the twelfth in a 19-part series, "19 COVID-19 Stories," updated on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, diving into the unique perspectives of the Corvallis community as they face COVID-19 and all its social and economic effects.
Michael Ferns is a sophomore civil engineering student at Oregon State University and an employee at Safeway on Circle Blvd. at Corvallis, Oregon. He said many people have quit due to the stress essential employees are exposed to during COVID-19 quarantine. From his experience, Ferns said he has seen people panic buying, and he said people should be considerate with each other and not buy more than what they need, because this could leave others unable to buy their basic needs.
What has been the most difficult thing you had to deal with at your work during this quarantine?
The most difficult portion of the quarantine for me has been the amount of people panic buying. I understand the need to stock up on groceries to self-quarantine, but people should not blow it out of proportion to where others aren't able to get the basic necessities they need.
What do you wish people knew about your job?
I wish people understood that we are not understaffed by choice. Individuals quit because of the high stress situation that we are in, and I can't really control how many of us are working on a given day. Also, I have no influence on what gets stocked on the shelves... but I can definitely tell when we run out of stuff.
Has the demand for essential supplies such as toilet paper affected your job somehow? Explain, please.
I would say that the demand for essential supplies definitely has had a heavy impact on my job. People can be pretty frustrated when checking out and I have had a few people chew me out for Safeway being out of toilet paper. But on a more positive note, I have received an increase in pay due to the stressful situation.
Have your hours at work increased or decreased? How do you feel about this change?
Hours have been increased due to the greater quantity of people flooding to the store. I honestly don't mind the increase in hours, as it just means more money, but the hours we do get can be pretty busy.
How do you feel about being an essential worker during this quarantine?
I don't really feel any different. It is still just a job for me to get through college.