Eyes glittering with excitement, the girl begins her next shift. Arming herself with a mask and gloves, Raine Wongchong spends her day taking orders and preparing frozen treats. At the end of the day, she smiles to herself, fully aware of her love for her job.
Wongchong, a rising senior with a job at Whit’s Frozen Custard, is one of many employees facing new sets of restrictions in the workplace as a result of COVID-19. Despite being forced to close down at the beginning of the stay-at-home order, Whit’s is now up and running once again with the addition of new safety protocols. At Whit’s, these new protocols include requirements for staff to wear masks and gloves, as well as complying with new sanitation standards, many of which seem to be universal in the food industry during the pandemic.
¨We have to put on a mask before we even enter the store. Once we get inside, we wipe down all of our personal belongings and put on gloves. But if you are handling product, you can only handle product with those gloves. If you are at the register, you can only touch money with those gloves,¨ Wongchong said. ¨We also sanitize pens between each use and sanitize all surfaces and handles for closing.¨
In addition to these protocols, the entire setup of the store has undergone a multitude of changes following its reopening, according to Wongchong.
¨We aren’t allowed to let people walk in the store anymore. Instead, we opened a walk-up window in the back where they order and pay. Afterwards, they walk to the other door on the side to pick it up,¨ Wongchong said. ¨Also, for a little bit, we could only sell closed products, like things in the freezer. But after awhile, we were allowed to open up the full menu again.¨
According to Wongchong, the job has come with new challenges following the threat of the virus.
¨It has been difficult explaining to customers that they can’t come inside,¨ Wongchong said. ¨Also, when older folks don’t believe corona is real, they fight us about it.¨
According to Wongchong, she already had a strong bond with her coworkers, and the circumstances surrounding the virus have only brought them closer together.
¨We are all really good friends. Sometimes I go into work on days I’m not scheduled just so I can hang out with all of them,¨ Wongchong said. ¨I also feel like we’ve gotten closer during all of the corona stuff. We always just joke around and make custard.¨
Wongchong has been employed at Whit’s since last August and has no plans to leave the store anytime soon, despite the new challenges in her work environment.
¨I plan on working there for a little bit after I graduate. It really just depends on what I decide to do after high school,¨ Wongchong said. ¨I’m sorry to say it, but I am attached to my custard shop job. I love it and all the people I get to work with every day.¨
By: Marissa Detwiler, Feature Writer