Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) students returned home and left their jobs in Monterey Bay right after the notice of the shelter-in-place in Monterey County. That wasn’t the case for CSUMB student, Amanda Lathrop, who stayed working at her job in Del Rey Oaks until the end of March.
Lathrop worked at the Starbucks kiosk inside the Safeway of the shopping center off of Fremont Street, which is currently still open. “All of the Starbucks inside of Target’s were closed, so [my coworkers and I] thought we were going to be next,” Lanthrop said. Nonetheless, her store stayed open and COVID-19 brought upon many changes to her workplace.
“We had to clean a lot more, wear gloves and wash our hands more. Our boss passed out travel letters for us in case we were stopped by cops for being outside,” Lathrop said. “Most of the precautionary measures were to stay away from [others], which wasn’t very feasible if you’re at a register. It was ridiculously impossible to stay away from our coworkers because we were in a kiosk.”
It was also hard for her store to get all the resources it needed to keep it properly sanitized. Lathrop said her kiosk was supposed to get plexiglass to block the area between customers and workers, but she and her coworkers asked their manager when they would be getting it for two weeks, and were not able to get a clear answer.
Lantrhop also “had to get gloves from the deli” section of Safeway at times because her store didn’t have any supplied for her and her coworkers and believed her “two dollar hazard pay was not making up for that.”
As for the customers coming to Starbucks, Lathrop said her “regulars were really, really happy [they] were open.” But, when it came to non-regulars, she said some customers were not as understanding of the Starbucks workers and their needs.
“People kept asking us if they could use our gloves, which were for workers. One time, a lady asked me if I could put a new lid on her drink without touching the lid. People were weird about how cautious they were being,” Lanthrop said.
Lanthrop said customers of the Starbucks and Safeway as a whole would wear gloves, but would still “wipe their nose” with them on and then continue shopping. “Another time, my coworker sneezed, and a lady in line took one look at her and walked out of line. People would yell at me for not being able to take their personal cups anymore,” Lanthrop said. “Many people weren’t taking it seriously.”
Lanthrop recalled the time a fight broke out over water between customers in the Safeway. “It was crazy, like a Black Friday over water,” Lanthrop said. “So many people didn’t care [how much product they were buying]. They were stocking up on stuff they didn’t need.”
When describing her overall experience of working during this pandemic, Lathrop said she thought it was “freaky” to see how people act. “It showed me a lot about how humans think,” Lanthrop said.