The Helpful (Tired) Smiles
by Tony Tone
March 21, 2020
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I’m exhausted and my feet hurt. It’s 8:10 pm on Thursday, March 19th as I’m writing this on my phone. The past seven days, my work (Hy-Vee) has been busy. I have nearly 299 coworkers, who have all been working so hard to keep up with the demand. We’re smiling and super tired at the same time.

Our customers have been incredible. The patience, grace, and gratitude make the 10 to 12-hour-days (longer for some) worthwhile. I was shopping an order for our Aisles Online this week when a woman stopped me in the frozen food department, “I just hope you know how much I appreciate that you’re working,” she said. It meant so much to hear that, and I thank her again in this space.

Of course I’m scared, and that’s okay. The same day I’m writing this (March 19th) we learned of the first confined case of the Coronavirus in Muscatine County. By now, you all know I’m an optimistic person, and I refuse to allow this challenging time to take that from me. I will continue to work to provide for my family and to ensure that any customer that walks through my doors knows how much it means to me. I’ll also keep washing my hands, using sanitizer, and doing that new awkward elbow bump hello (someone should really name that).

I’m also not a doctor, even though it took me an extra semester to graduate from St. Ambrose University (my thought is by mentioning them perhaps they’d reduce a student loan payment–kidding!). Social media has proven to be both effective during this ordeal and detrimental at the same time. It’s hard to not get overwhelmed scrolling through your newsfeed. I’m trying to not pay much attention to it after working the aforementioned long days. Coming back to my doctor comment; I’m not able to tell you what to do or not do during this time. Seems like the smart thing is to hang out at home (call it quarantine or staycation) and check in on loved ones. Iowans are so tough and resilient, and I know in my heart we will get past this. I just hope we can learn some lessons as we reflect on these days.

It’s also hard to think of my children potentially not going back to school (as of writing this school is still slated to resume April 14th). My sons, Henry and Theodore, really enjoy their teachers and friends. Plus, how many weeks can we truly be expected to entertain them at home?! Part of the government’s proposed stimulus should be sending a new outdoor trampoline to families with children!

Folks I just want you to know that we’re all in this together. Let’s be kind to one another, and please, be smart. I’m thinking about you and your families. Feel free to email me anytime; [email protected] and take care of yourselves. I’m going to rest and maybe ice my feet because working grocery retail doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon!

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