Hi. It’s me, you’re friendly neighborhood transgender grocery store worker. Although it seems that I’m a hero now. I mean I knew I was “courageous” because people kept telling me I was so brave for being a transwoman… but being a hero is some next level shit I didn’t know I was capable of. I didn’t realize that bagging groceries, hanging price tags, and implementing regional programs was heroic work. Apparently it is?
I don’t want this to be one of those “here’s nine things you need to remember when you go to the grocery store during Covid-19” blog posts. There are plenty of those blog posts out there. So, instead, here’s a few things I’ve experienced that I’ve found interesting.
Anytime I miss Louisiana, all I have to do is breathe.
My company implemented mandatory face masks for all team members. I’m grateful for the safety measure. I truly am. However, wearing foundation has become a great, cosmic joke. When I take off my mask at the end of my shift, it has a flesh colored tint to the inside of it… and my face looks like I sloppily ate hot wings and had to aggressively wipe sauce off of my face.
It’s also really, really humid in those masks. Like, it feels like Louisiana in August inside them. I was texting with some coworkers who wear glasses and we agree that there is a technique to not fogging up our glasses: breathe in through the mouth, taking deep slow breaths and exhale through the nose, making sure that the mask has venting on the sides so the hot air doesn’t rise up into our glasses. It’s almost a mindfulness exercise.
Stop shopping the same way you used to, goddamnit.
This one is actually kind of important. The other night I watched a woman pick up a container of cheese cubes and look at the price tag, which was on the bottom of the container. She then did the same thing with another container. And another. I watched her grab ten containers before I said, “Ma’am, please stop touching all the containers. I’ll put on a fresh pair of gloves and help you find what you’re looking for.” She was looking for the cheapest tub, which is how she normally shops. That shit won’t fly right now. After our interaction, every guest near me thanked me for stopping her.
Stop. Touching. Everything.
Also, the days of custom cuts of meat, cheese, or seafood are suspended. It blows my mind that people will roll their eyes and walk away when we tell them that we can’t cut a piece of cheese in half for them. The plastic on the outside of that cheese was touched be me, the guest with the sense of entitlement, and god knows how many other people. My bosses told me to keep myself safe and ensure the safety of my guests by not opening a piece of wrapped cheese and then touching that cheese again.
You have a knife at home. Cut the shit yourself. It takes 30 seconds.
Wow. You people really hate me for being transgender.
One of the pros of wearing a mask is that, between my hat and the mask, you can only see my eyes. I always wear heavy eye makeup, so they look very feminine. However, my voice gives me away as being transgender. I’m amazed that, in the middle of a global pandemic, older Trump voters still prioritize saying excuse me SIR, the more conservative African-Americans still take the time to glare at me so I can see that they hate me, and the younger Evangelicals refuse to make eye contact with me.
I guess that, even though I am their neighborhood hero, I’m am still loathed. I understand the younger Evangelicals, though… they somehow learned that we Queers infect you with The Gayness through eye contact. That’s right. Eye contact.
It’s still OK to laugh.
Because our stores are all short-staffed, I work not just in my department but also at the door sanitizing carts and as a cashier or bagging groceries.
When I’m at the entrance to the store, I’ll ask guests if they want a large or small cart. If they say they want a big one, I’ll tell ‘em that it’s the King Ranch edition of the grocery cart with the DVD player in the ceiling and the sports detailing. If they want the small one, I’ll tell ‘em that it’s a sporty two-seater with a little zip that will get them around town with great fuel efficiency.
No one laughs. No one.
When I’m bagging groceries I’ll crack jokes with the cashier and, by that point, about half of the people have loosened up. They’ll smile or laugh with us. About half won’t though. They’re all business.
Look, I get it. The grocery store is scary right now. It’s a giant petri dish that everyone in the city touches. If I can find humor in the middle of that nightmare, it’s ok for you to find it, too.
As far as we know, we only get one ride on The Rollercoaster of Life. We should enjoy it, right? If Covid-19 takes me out, I want to go with a smile on my face and a smartass joke on my lips.