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VPM Audio Diaries: Life As An Essential Grocery Worker

Joi Bass is a junior at Virginia Union University, and works part-time as a grocery store cashier. (Photo credit: Joi Bass)

Joi Bass, a junior at Virginia Union University in Richmond, reflects on her part-time grocery store job, checks in with her grandma, and talks about the importance of self care during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

This story is part of VPM’s Audio Diary Project, where Virginians are documenting their lives during the coronavirus pandemic. Would you like to share your experiences with VPM? Email us at [email protected].

Special thanks to Dina Weinstein, radio production instructor at Virginia Union University. Students submitted audio diaries for a recent class assignment. Selected excerpts follow - listen to more of Joi’s audio diaries here.


Friday, April 3

This is Joi Bass. After an eight hour shift, I have to be extremely cautious and extremely careful. When I come to the house, I have to take my shoes off at the front door, I have to change into my home clothes, put my work clothes in a bag, wash them as soon as I get back, take a shower, wash my hands, then I can go downstairs and spend time with my family.

During this crisis, I've been going through a pretty tough time at work. Things have been extremely stressful, but I did receive a slight raise which is very exciting, but at the same time, it still doesn't control the stress that I go through. People have to understand the mental health of the employees that are holding everything together during this unprecedented time.

Friday, April 10

Good morning, everybody. This is Joi Bass reporting from her bedroom. It is currently 10:33 in the morning. I'm a little disappointed in myself today because I feel like I'm not being super productive. And I know I have things that I need to go ahead and get done. It's just the ambition today just isn't really there. So I'm kind of stuck right now and I'm trying to figure out what to do. So this is Joi Bass signing off.

Thursday, April 16

A lot of times since this has happened, I did not want to go to work. I was so unhappy because I felt like every time I went in, I’d have to deal with a customer complaining. I was going to have to deal with a customer who got mad because of the limits they put on certain items, and I just...I couldn’t deal with it.

I don’t think before all of the customers really realized how hard it is to be a grocery store employee: to make sure the shelves are stocked, to make sure that when you come in the store you’re getting everything on your list.

Thursday, April 23

Good afternoon, everybody. This is Joi Bass and I am currently here in my home, and I'm actually sitting in my room with my little brother Manny. We were just having a really good conversation about self care. I love to do a lot of things like skincare and putting on a face mask.

I feel like another thing that I do to practice self care is honestly just spending time with my family. Like right now, I'm sitting in my room and I'm spending time with my little brother, which, honestly, [before COVID-19] we were so busy, we all have busy schedules. I just didn’t have the time to be present with my family. And now I have that time to be present with them and spend time with them. And I think that's a crucial lesson that we all can learn.

Megan Pauly reports on early childhood and higher education news in Virginia
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