A letter from an essential worker

Written by Skye Melcher

I want to start this letter out by apologizing to all my professors. During this time I have not been doing my best with homework and projects because it is hard to find the time. I am trying my best to keep up with everything. 
During the first week of quarantine I struggled with all my classes going online, working my normal job and having to help run my grandpa’s business because he could no longer do so at the risk of getting sick. During this week I spread myself so thin I had a panic attack in the middle of my shift. After that my brothers took over my spot with helping my grandpa. 
I thought it would get better because I wouldn’t have much to do but then my work schedule went from 20 hours a week to 35 hours. One of my coworkers decided to go into quarantine and is not  returning until the pandemic ends. That left us with five staff members to run an entire gas station until this is over and I say until this is over because our company is not allowed to hire during this time. 
We weren’t as busy as we usually were, so that was fine with me—until Pettis County released that gas stations were no longer allowed to sell self-serve fountain drinks, coffee, or hot food that wasn’t already pre-packaged. With this decision came angry patrons. 
For two weeks I have been called more derogatory names than I could count, I have had people scream at me because I couldn’t sell them a cup of over-priced soda. I’ve had people rip lottery tickets out of my hands because I wasn’t able to cash them out for them. I still have the regular customers that come in and degrade me on a regular basis due to the simple fact that I work at a gas station, so I must not be doing anything else with my life, right?
I have to deal with it all because I am considered an “essential worker,” but the truth is I’m not doing anything essential. I’m selling lottery tickets to people who don’t believe this crisis is real. I get to stand behind a counter each day and risk getting sick so people can buy their cigarettes or alcohol, just to be told that what we’re doing to stay safe is crap. 
So again, I apologize to my professors who understand what I am going through and are willing to work with me. Thank you for being the people you are.