Stress level of people increased due to restrictions
California: Abuses and attacks are reported common in retails shops in US. The issue became serious when Samantha Clarke, a retail shop employee in Modesto was assaulted by a shopper, as she obstructed him from entering her shop without wearing a mask. It has been days since the retailers are calmly listening to the insults and abuses or even threats from shoppers for not following the Covid related rules. Similar is the case when the retailers run out of any commodity and the customer learns that he cannot get it from anywhere.
How was Samantha attacked
Samantha Clarke was a 17 year experienced retailer. She was approached by a customer who wanted to purchase an above-ground swimming pool. But as she told him that the last item had been purchased by someone already, this customer became furious, sucker-punched and knocked her down to the floor. Samantha was bleeding from her face. “I have been in retail my whole life. I’ve been at this particular job 17 years and I have never heard of anyone being attacked, ever,” Clarke said by phone one recent evening after finishing the night shift.
“We had the normal upset customer from time to time, but rarely did someone lose their temper and cuss at us,” she says of life before the store she manages began operating under state-issued corona virus safety guidelines. “Now it’s just daily, sometimes back to back to back,” she said.
Why these attacks?
“After months of living with such restrictions, the level of stress among people clearly has reached a boiling point, and not just in California”, said Rachel Michelin, the California Retail Association’s president and CEO. “There’s just a high level of frustration everywhere right now,” Michelin added. Clarke posted her photo of bleeding face on Facebook with an explanation of what was it like to work in retailers these days, when it received huge share of thousands of followers, which prompted her to start a separate page. ‘Retail life during Covid-19’, she named the page. The page has ten-thousands of followers now.
Thousands commented on her original post and subsequent messages as she talked of contacting the police and of healing physically and emotionally. Several comments came from others who say they work in retail too and since the pandemic have been faced with an unending string of abuse. “My co-worker was spat on by a person who wouldn’t wear a mask,” one person who said she worked in retail in Riverside, California, told Clarke. More stories came to public through the page. One said about a security guard in a store at Michigan, who was shot to death by a woman a month ago, as he had told her not to enter the store without mask.
The masks seem to upset customers the most, said Clarke, although many shoppers don’t like rules requiring people to stay 6 feet apart or the store’s policy of banning the return of items during the pandemic. “I had one lady threaten to burn the store down because we wouldn’t take her return,” she said. “It’s insane”. Despite the attack, Clarke says she still loves her job, the people she works with at the store and also the customers who frequent it in Modesto. Her Facebook page is overflowing with love and condolences from supporters. “I think something good is coming from this,” she said. “People are showing a lot of support for anyone who posts what they’ve gone through that day. It’s just really cool to see people supporting retailers.”