RICHMOND (NEWS 1130) – Another video has surfaced online showing a confrontation between a front-line worker and a shopper refusing to wear a mask, in what retail workers say is becoming a daily occurrence during the pandemic.
It happened at the Bosley’s by Pet Valu on Westminster Highway in Richmond on April 15 and the video was filmed by the would-be customer herself. The video begins with the woman saying she is not being allowed to buy dog food because she is not wearing a mask, as per store guidelines.
“You’re a disgusting human being, you understand that? You pig,” the customer can be heard yelling at the store employee after attempting to give her a copy of the Charter of Human Rights and claiming she is medically exempt from wearing a mask.
“We are allowed to refuse service to anybody and because you insulted me and called me a Nazi, I’m going to ask you to leave,” the worker can be heard at one point of the video.
Such confrontations appear to have become the norm for many front-line workers as frustrations over restrictions boil over, a year into the pandemic.
“I’ve been coming home from work super, super stressed cause it does feel like I’m showing up for shifts sitting through verbal abuse, rather than just working as a cashier,” a grocery store worker in the Tri-Cities, who wants to remain anonymous, tells NEWS 1130.
“It’s really, really demanding on us when we have to deal with every other customer being upset at us or having a complaint.”
She says there are a lot of people who take out their anger with the pandemic on her and her co-workers, adding it’s happening on an almost daily basis.
“A lot of customers do get upset with the mask policies. They basically forbid themselves from wearing masks. They like to tell us that what we’re doing doesn’t actually help anything in the pandemic,” she said.
“We’ve definitely been threatened a lot about how we operate the store and so like suing us, calling the police on us, threatening us, how what we’re doing is wrong in their eyes.”
She’s reminding people that those working at stores during the pandemic are humans too, adding they don’t make the rules.
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Patrick Johnson with UFCW 1518, which represents some of B.C.’s front-line workers, says they’re unfortunately seeing some of the worst in people.
“These folks are cashiers, they’re grocery clerks. They aren’t making public health orders, but sometimes they end up wearing those decisions,” he said.
As an example of the toll this is having, he points to the union’s education month, which is running courses, including mental health at work. He says an overwhelming amount of people signed up.
“It does bring forward a lot of front-line workers’ stories, and ultimately, you know, not just the pressure that them and they’re family deal with, with them going to work, but the additional pressure as people deal with, I mean, to be polite, call it COVID-19 fatigue. To be in reality, call it rudeness of some customers,” he said.
Johnson says it’s hard to say if these sort of incidents have been on the rise, but adds customers have definitely become more lax with certain rules, such as physical distancing and hand sanitizing, compared to the start of the pandemic.
Bosley’s grateful for respectful customers
When it comes to this latest incident, Bosley’s says it’s grateful for customers for respecting policies and for staff and franchise partners for enforcing them.
“The team at Bosley’s takes the safety of our staff and customers very seriously and we have strict procedures in place to protect everyone during this challenging time. These procedures include wearing masks in all of our stores,” a statement to NEWS 1130 says.
“We have numerous shopping options available, including curbside and call ahead, to accommodate customers who are medically exempt from wearing a mask.”