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COVID-19 essentials: Food, gratitude and maybe masks

A shopper wearing a mask purchases grocery items at a Target store on March 13, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

One group of workers considered essential during this pandemic are the people up and down the food-supply chain: the people who grow and harvest our food, the truckers who deliver it to the stores, and the workers stocking the shelves, running the checkout stands and bagging our stuff.

They’re essential because, well, food is essential to the continued existence of human beings.

But an essential that’s not being provided enough right now might be gratitude.

After I left the KTAR studios Friday afternoon, I hit my local Fry’s store, where I spent about $180 so we could stay home the rest of the weekend and not worry too much about going shopping for another week.

While I was there, a lot more Fry’s employees than usual were pushing around those big carts they fill for grocery pickup and delivery.

Even though I had to navigate around them, I tried to not be aggravated because I knew many were shopping for old folks like my dad.

What was aggravating, though, was what I heard at the end of my shopping excursion. When I thanked the ladies who scanned and bagged my groceries for going to work during a scary time, the checkout clerk told me I was the first customer to do so.

That’s sad.

Almost as sad as what one Circle K manager in Yuma did to a customer who walked into her store wearing a surgical-type mask. She refused him service because she said his mask was a sign that he must “be contaminated.”

He responded by telling her he was wearing the mask because he didn’t want to get “contaminated.”

That manager was the one really in the wrong — but the masked man was wrong about one thing: Wearing a mask in public (now being encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) really isn’t about protecting the mask-wearer

ABC Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton says it’s actually for protecting the people around you. 

The masks we can generally get our hands on don’t fit tightly enough to keep the virus from getting in. But they just might keep it from getting out. If you sneeze or cough, the mask (hopefully) will keep virus-carrying droplets from flying through the air and landing on surfaces and people (like convenience store managers). 

Yes, more of us customers could be showing gratitude toward essential workers. But in the case of that convenience store manager, she should’ve been the one thanking her customer for protecting her from the coronavirus. 

But I don’t think there’s any mask out there that’s designed to help protect other people from their own stupidity.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

Arizona's Morning News