Last Updated on October 25, 2020
EDITOR’S NOTE: Read our roundup of pandemic-related Aldi posts at this link.
Recently, the Washington Post chronicled the plight of many grocery workers. The beginning of the article says it all:
This spring, for the first time, Angel Manners found purpose and pride at the supermarket where she has worked the past decade. Customers praised her as a hero for putting herself at risk during the pandemic. Bosses boosted her hourly pay by $2. Suddenly, her job was essential.
Nearly five months in, and it is all gone.
Over on Reddit, a link to the Post article spawned a number of reactions, including some from weary workers across various “essential” businesses who have had to endure difficult customers and fear over contracting COVID-19. At the same time, most grocers (including Aldi) ended their highly touted hazard pay bonuses months ago.
Grocery store workers are more essential than ever. And their job is harder than ever. They’re expected to do everything they’ve always done, plus a whole new set of responsibilities involving store cleaning and enforcement of pandemic store policies, all while worrying about their own health and safety.
While shoppers can’t solve all of these problems, there are some things customers can do to support their grocery store workers and make their lives easier. A few of these things were as important before the pandemic as they are now, but they’re especially important because of the pandemic.
Some of these are going to sound obvious, because they are. But I believe reminders never hurt, even for obvious things.
1. Be gracious in accepting store policy.
Aldi stores have set up policies designed to make their workers and shoppers safer during the pandemic. Stores require masks, for example, and aisles are designed to be one-way. The best way you can support your workers is by accepting these without complaint while you’re in the store, regardless of how you personally feel about COVID-19 or masks. It’s an act of kindness toward the workers.
2. Don’t try to police rule-breakers yourself.
There are going to be customers who flout those rules, and there’s even a chance you will witness it. If you do, the one thing you should not do is try to tell other shoppers to follow store policy. You cannot and should not try to badger others about mask-wearing or following one-way lanes: that will create more problems for your Aldi worker than it solves, especially if the situation escalates and authorities have to be called.
You certainly can ask other shoppers to move away from you if you’re comfortable doing that, but sometimes that can backfire, too, leading to a confrontation that could actually put you at greater risk of exposure to the virus than if you’d said nothing.
Just remember that extended time and heavier breathing are associated with higher risk of transmission. Keeping things short and calm is the best thing you can do.
Also, if you witness a moment of bad behavior from a customer toward an Aldi worker … see #5.
3. Be purposeful when you pull things off the shelf.
This ought to be self-evident, but make sure you do what you can to make the worker’s jobs easier. Try to minimize how much you rummage around a shelf. It keeps things tidy for workers, and, of course, lessens contact customers have with surfaces.
4. Be patient.
Aldi is known for its speed, especially in the checkout lane. The pandemic has changed a lot of things, including slowing some things down. Getting into some stores may be harder, and workers may be stretched thinner during peak times. We all have places to be, but try to be patient with your workers.
5. Say thank you.
Aldi policy forbids tipping its workers, even for curbside delivery. (This is not true for Instacart workers.) Aldi workers are generally well-paid to begin with, but higher pay doesn’t make up for a miserable job experience. Fortunately, while you can’t compensate them monetarily, you can give them something very important: a positive customer experience. Little things like a consciously positive tone of voice and saying “thank you for all you do” and “have a good day,” are things that brighten your Aldi worker’s world. It won’t erase the bad experiences, but it can counterbalance it.
6. Return your cart.
Believe it or not, there are people who actually sacrifice their quarters. Returning a cart isn’t just about getting your precious, life-altering quarter back: it’s about making your Aldi worker’s job a little easier so they can continue to do the other things they need to do well. Remember, self-service carts are one of the ways Aldi keeps prices down so that receipt is a lot lower than at other grocers.
If you have any other thoughts on how to support Aldi workers, let us know in the comments. Just be sure to be mindful of our Community Guidelines.