Fear and Loathing in St. Louis: The Life and Times of an “Essential Employee”

By Gary Chapman

On March 20, Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued his necessary stay-at-home order for the state of Illinois, which closed all nonessential businesses throughout the state to stop the spread of COVID-19. Shortly after this on March 21,  St. Louis City and County made their own. The problem with theirs is their definition of “essential” is extremely vague, with only closing some places, but the order has 24 designations for essential businesses, and the county’s list has 40 different designations, including hotels.

There are a lot of people who are designated “essential” one way or another. I asked some people in the St. Louis subreddit about it and got 40 different responses.

Reddit user BurnOverride, who is a Fireman/Paramedic, stated,“We consider it likely that many of us will become infected. Most of us are concerned about spreading it to our families. No revelations here, just writing to share that we’ll be there for STL.”

Some people did complain about the conditions of their workplace while cleanliness and hygiene are being promoted heavily. ChrisVolume, who works for an undisclosed delivery company, lamented that there were “No masks. No sanitizer. I can’t exactly stay 6 feet from people at all times in our filthy warehouse. We have been given cheap plastic gloves. The only place to wash hands is in the 1 bathroom at the end of the warehouse,” and, “They gave us a small bag of chips and a granola bar [on] Friday to ‘thank us during this unprecedented time.’”

Other users are feeling that it is blursed (a common portmanteau of blessed and cursed) with them feeling okay that they are happy for the paycheck, but are afraid of how they have been put in a bad spot.

On a macabre note, HouseOfUrchins, who is a grave digger, said simply, “Not looking forward to this summer at all.”

People who work in the retail realm noted the number of people who went somewhere just to get out, and as Boatman666 said, “decided to risk [their] health and anyone else who has a legitimate need to be at the hardware store because [they] were bored?” I agree with the workers because that is not a good thing to do, I would not want to get COVID and possibly die because some bloke was bored and decided to go to Schnucks one day.

There does need to be some tightening of the law because I do not want this to be “The Black Plague 2:Electric Boogaloo.”

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