I’m a till operator at Iceland in Ashington, I work part-time and I’ve been there nearly 18 years.
It was very daunting at first in lockdown because customers were queuing for hours before we opened, but after a few weeks you got used to it.
I felt proud that we were making sure everybody got their food. And just being able to do my job really kept me going – I was glad that I was allowed to go to work and help. The worst thing about the situation was the way that people went into themselves – Covid was the only thing that was on people’s minds. We saw a lot of change in our regulars but all you could do was check on them and kind of reassure them. But there wasn’t as much time as usual to talk on the tills, you just had to put their minds at rest as much as you could.
I think I learnt to be more patient with people. I learnt our customers’ situations so I felt like I could help them. Some weren’t seeing anyone else all day so they were just glad to see a friendly face and it was nice to be able to be that person who asks how they are – a smile on your face can go a long way.
We had to keep ourselves safe as well as the public and we all really looked after each other. We could go and say to management ‘I don’t feel happy with this’ and they would listen to us, basically it was just us all pulling together and doing the best we could. We didn’t have to wear PPE at first, and then we got masks which I struggled with because I get migraines. Then the company put the screens in, so now we don’t have to wear them which is a relief.
In my own mind I sort of kept the country going – not me personally, but me as a shop assistant. You need food so I was proud that I was going to work and providing a service to people who needed it. I would like to think in years to come people will look at me and say ‘that girl worked in the pandemic’, and that I was still working and provided a service, a necessity for people. I’m just so proud of what I did, I can’t put it into words.
In my spare time I’m usually out with my dog Buster, going out with my friends and I’m always out shopping. In lockdown after work I used to come home, have a cup of tea and then go for a long walk. That was the thing that kept me going. I watched TV and read books. And just relaxed with my husband Dean – he’s my life, we’ve been together 37 years.