As shoppers flock to grocery stores and supermarkets to prepare for an extended period of isolation at home, some workers tell NY1 they're noticing a greater level of respect and concern from customers than they have ever experienced before.
"I wouldn't say I hear too many thank yous, but their body language is different. I’ll get a wink, a nod, a smile, a thumbs up," said Joey Quercia, a produce clerk at the Stop & Shop on Amboy Road in Great Kills.
Quercia has 34 years of experience working at grocery stores and often works directly with shoppers.
"You can see it through their body language that they are appreciative that we are coming to work to service them," he said. "I think they are showing us a lot more patience than they have in the past."
Joseph Fontano, the secretary and treasurer for Local 338 of the Retail Wholesale Department Store Union, tells NY1 his union is fighting to get grocery store workers the same type of child care that will be provided, beginning Monday, to workers in health care, transit, and emergency services who are considered essential.
While many workers are taking pride in knowing they are providing an important service during this crisis, they are also thankful just to have work.
At the same time, they are aware of the many risks they face.
"I was just approached this morning by one of the members of the shop who said, 'Look, I have elderly parents at home and I go home to them every day and I’m taking care of them, and I’m concerned because we deal with the public on a day-in and day-out basis,'" Fontano said.
Fontano also says while his union has enough hand sanitizer and safety gloves to hand out to their members for now, they fear that supply could run out in a few weeks.
Despite that, they hope the supply of goodwill towards grocery store workers will last much longer.
"This is a scary time, and they’re doing what they can to help us and make sure we have what we need," said Rene Napoleone, a shopper from Great Kills. "They’re putting their safety in jeopardy, as we are too getting what we need, so I’m grateful to know that they’re here and open for us."
Napoleone also admits she says thank you to any cashier she now encounters while also telling them to stay safe.