My sister and brother own an "essential business" here in Thunder Bay, Maltese Grocery. They are worried for their employees, for their customers, and for themselves. It is a family business and they all work in the store - my sister, my brother, their children, and their employees - who they consider "family".
They are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. My sister recently quipped, "I didn't realize that we had signed up for the draft."
On a daily basis, they see 700 customers. That is 700 customers who potentially are infected with the novel coronovirus but who don't know it yet, given that Ontario is lagging behind in testing. We've all heard the reports of people being infected but who are not showing any or minimal symptoms.
They have no protective equipment. In fact, recently, they ordered a hand sanitizer station to provide their customers with the ability to sanitize their hands upon entering the store with disinfectant, but they were told by their supplier that the government had told them they could not release the sanitizer station to them because all disinfectant, personal protective equipment, etc. was to be reserved for hospitals and health care providers. Instead, my brother-in-law made one for them.
Today was a particularly stressful day for them. They are tired and exhausted and worried about protecting their customers and their employees with little or no support in sight.
Someone came into the store today who made my sister cry. She came in to tell her that she wanted to donate a bunch of cloth face masks to her and her employees that she had made herself, and she would come back tomorrow to drop them off. When my sister called me tonight to tell me about this, she was still crying.
The unsung heroes are all of the essential workers who still show up every day to work at minimal wages to make our lives just a little bit easier during this pandemic - the grocery store workers, the truck drivers, the workers at the gas stations, the clerks at the pharmacies and hardware stores, the sanitation workers, all of the utilities workers.
These are the unsung heroes. The ones we often forget to thank during this crisis. The ones that are also putting their lives on the line everyday. I salute you. And thank-you to the lady who made my sister's day just a little bit brighter today. Thank-you for not forgetting and thank-you for recognizing the sacrifice they are making.