The Life of a Working Student During COVID-19

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image from Flickr.com

Casey Tremblay, Co-Editor in Chief/Online Manager

Many students have part-time jobs during the school or solely during the summer months. I am a senior working about thirty hours a week on average during the school year. Saving for college, and my future through a part-time job. 

For decades the jobs that students work have been fiercely overlooked. Silenced from saying we’ve had a long day at work from our parents and teachers who work seven to twelve hour shifts daily with one to days off a week. “You just work at a grocery store, how hard can it be?” “Working three hours must be tuff.”

As teenagers with no prior work experience, we work at Taco Bells, Burger Kings, grocery stores, drug stores, me, I work at Cali Burrito. Most of our parents have been laid off temporarily and some permanently. Little did we know we’d be running the world at sixteen and seventeen. These fast food restaurants, and grocery stores have been deemed essential by both federal and local governments. We are still working. 

A month ago, students across the country left school on a friday not knowing they would never return. Workplaces, parks, restaurants, daycares, and hundreds of nonessential places have closed, and over twenty million people have become unemployed. 

It can be scary working nine hour shifts coming in contact with two to three hundred in one day. Especially in grocery stores because people who are possibly and even knowingly infected still need food and toiletries. Most teenagers are healthy enough to be virus carriers without showing symptoms or feeling the slightest bit sick. It is scary knowing that we could acquire the virus from work and spread it to our beloved regulars and cherished family members with no sense of it at all. 

Aware that my bosses and managers are doing everything they can to protect our health, I feel safe going into work. When I am there I am armed with gloves, a mask, clorox, and hand sanitizer. After every customer comes in I wipe down the register with the clorox, I make sure not to touch my face, if my gloves get a hole I quickly grab myself a new pair. I know there is risk involved going to work but I am okay knowing that and I feel safe going. I’ve stopped seeing my friends. I keep my distance from my family. 

Since COVID-19 Lockdown has begun I have been working about the same hours but I work more days in a week than I am used to. This is due to shift cutting. At my work usually four people are scheduled per shift since it has been much slower. They have cut it back to two people in the morning shifts, and three people during the night shifts. Cali Burritos regular hours are from 11-8 on weekdays and 11-9 on weekends with a siesta hour from 2:30-3:30 everyday. They have cut back to being open from 11:30-7:30 everyday with no siesta hour. 

We are a fast food style restaurant without the gross food and chain reputation. Since we are set up for both sit down and takeout we are one of the luckier restaurants to still stay open. We provide takeout, pickup, curbside, and online ordering for our customers. Being one of the few places in the country still open, people are happy to come in and see our smiling faces. They are wildly over tipping and that is one of the reasons I’m still gladly going to work. Business is slow but I am glad that Cali Burrito has been able to stay open, and I’m glad I still have my job when millions of people in our country are sitting at home with no source of income. 

 

We teenagers are at the for front of this, coming in contact with the virus possible daily earning minimum wage. We are feeding people who have gone to stir crazy to cook for themselves. We are spending our part-time shifts restocking shelves full of toilet paper that are bought off the shelves in under half the time it took us to put it there. Next time you see a working teen says thanks… from a distance.

 

According to the Parkland Trumpet Instagram, here are some statistics from your working teens here at Parkland High School:

  • When asked If their place of employment is still open, 60% (20 voters) replied yes and 40% (14 voters) said no.
  • When asked if they are still comfortable going to work, 68% (19 voters) said yes and 32% (9 voters) said no.
  • When asked if they enjoy going to work 76% (16 voters) said it is something to get them out of the house and 24% (5 voters) said they still don’t like working.
  • When asked if their hours have increased 59% (10 voters) said yes and 41% (7 voters) say they are working the same hours.