You make the holidays happen

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By DAVID A. COOK
President

When you’ve been part of this union as long as I have, you know there are things you can expect during the holiday season for our partners working in retail grocery stores and pharmacies. The mad rush around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year is familiar territory to those of you with a few years under your belt or a few grays in your hair.

If you have been around long enough, you’ve heard us say a few things over and over again: be safe during the busier times and with the increase in shoplifting, don’t put yourself in danger. Take pride in the fact that you help the holidays happen for millions of families across the state. Remember to find your own time with loved ones and friends.

UNDERSTAFFED
Recently some problems have become even more pronounced. You’ll notice the strain of being understaffed during this time of year more than ever. You might have moments of frustration or even anger when you see a schedule with less help than you need. You’ll work long days and go home exhausted. This is the reality for retail workers during this time.

Not every customer will be a delightful interaction. Yes, sadly, human beings have come a long way, yet somehow, we have not been able to eliminate jerks from our society. If we could bargain a “don’t be cruel and rude” clause into your contracts, it would be one of my top priorities. However, like the saying goes, there’s a great deal you can’t control, but you can control your own actions.

ATTITUDE, PERSPECTIVES
If we try very hard, there’s another thing we can control, and that’s our attitude and perspectives. Believe me, I spent enough time working in these stores to know what you’re going through right now, and most of your Local 655 staff have seen it up close as well.

I’m happy to report that as I visit stores and talk to our partners, I find myself talking to workers more and more who are busy, but not stressed. They are sometimes tired, but they aren’t miserable. They know that this is the hardest time of year, and you can’t do anything but get through it. For every rude customer, there’s always another so grateful that you helped them find that one thing they really needed. For every time you’re a little short on help, there’s a coworker that comes through and works a little harder to help out.

SERVICE TO THE COMMUNITY
Your next few weeks are more than just work, it’s a service to the community. You and your coworkers can support one another with patience and support. It’s the holiday season for you too: a time when you get to share gifts and memories with the people you love, and a time when you can reflect on what matters in your life.

Don’t be afraid to leave work at work. Carrying the stress home won’t make your life any easier. Don’t let that bad customer interaction follow you home. Don’t think about how much you have to do when you clock back in. Your job may be more important this time of year, but it’s still only your job. It’s easy to be cynical when your workplace is more stressful, when the news seems filled with negativity, when our politics find their way to our dinner tables and even push families apart.

JOYFUL AND GRATEFUL
But being cynical is easy. It’s easy to let this time of year drag you down. You know what’s hard? Being joyful and grateful — grateful that your work means so much to others, that you have more than so many others that need help during this time of year — even when you had a rough day.

You make the holidays happen, and you deserve to enjoy them as well.

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