Angie Dee contributed to this story.
We are at the point in Southern California where two of the most populous counties along the coast are looking at light at the very far end of the Covid tunnel. As of this writing, Los Angeles and Orange Counties are about to emerge from the second most restrictive “tier” to the “Orange Tier,” which will enable further opening up of the social, mercantile and entertainment corners of life. It won’t be anywhere near life as normal, because of the threat of the numerous Covid variants and the unknown threat they pose.
So we’re holding our breath, many of us are completing the course of Covid vaccinations we hope will protect us from death and serious illness and disability. And we’re wondering how things may change.
Some of my friends have seen the lighter side of this last Covid year…because they have been working for companies involved in logistics…the management of the things that move along the supply chain. Okay, first a few basics. (Skip this paragraph if you know what logistics and supply chain refer to. The supply chain being the way we get things to market, starting from raw materials to manufacture to storage and shipping to the final consumer. Logistics is how we manage the movement of things along the supply chain.)
With the shutting down of the economy, that is, the closing down of unnecessary business and travel in 2020, the economy suffered a worse contraction than the recent recession of 2008. (It may also have saved more than two million people from contracting covid and dying.) But more than 22 million people lost jobs when the country stopped going to stores, restaurants, gyms, theaters and even hair dressers.
On the lighter side, some have weathered the pandemic with an admirable agility. A hiker friend of mine lost her job because of the slowdown in business during the early days of the pandemic. A few months later, she scored an administrative position with a leading shipping firm. Because she worked in one of their warehouses, she remarked that she could see what America was going through in the pandemic. At first she kept saying, “Boy we had a lot of dumbbells this week…” It led us to think Americans were shipping silly and foolish things, but she said, “No, I mean dumbbells, you know for weight lifting. They are really ungainly and no one knows how to pack them and so they move around and then destroy the shipping boxes.” (Causing problems for the shipper.) Apparently, with the gyms closed down, Americans were exercising at home.
As time went on, she would remark, “People are buying lots of dog food…huge bags of dog food.” (Imagine how happy our pets are now that we are working at home.) And then, “Now we are seeing a lot of trampolines.” The newest thing in low-impact aerobics?
Our colleague Angie Dee also works in logistics. I asked her if they were busier because of the pandemic and if that was stressful.
“Our type of business actually bloomed during the pandemic and we increased hiring in both the warehouse and customer service,” she reported “The holiday season hit us hard. So many more people were shopping online, so since we are in the box and packaging business it definitely made for a busy holiday season.”
The company hired more workers for the office and the warehouse and granted some hazard pay to warehouse workers and instituted a split at home and at office shift for others.
Angie contracted Covid in early December, so missed the height of the busy season, but recovered in time to rejoin her co-workers. https://usedmedia.org/2021/01/05/that-time-i-beat-covid-vlogmas-conclusion/
Was returning to work just after Christmas stressful? “I went back at the tail end of it in December. Delays in deliveries affected us tremendously as it affected pretty much every other company. Working in the shipping department was stressful at times but luckily our supervisors were understanding and didn’t push us too hard. Overall I think they knew that all of these situations were uncharted and didn’t expect us to work twice as hard just because there was twice the work.”
Extra pay and perks also helped. Companies would bring in lunches purchased from nearby restaurants, offer over time pay. It is reported that workers enjoyed the lunches and considered them perks.
The best food? It was local, of course, burritos and carnitas!