This Is the Question No Retail Worker Wants to Hear Right Now

They've already been through enough in the past few months as it is. Please don't ask them this.

Let's be honest: Retail workers have had a really rough go of it over the past few months. They're putting themselves on the front lines of the pandemic to make sure grocery, hardware, convenience, and drug stores stay open. They're figuring out constantly changing policies and rules. And they're putting themselves in danger each shift by potentially exposing themselves to the coronavirus. For them, no day at work has been normal or easy. If anything, these workers deserve their own ticker tape parade for showing up to do their job in the face of such adversity. But until then, you can thank them by not asking one simple question: "When will this product be back in stock?"

Reddit user @evilpotatoarmy posted a message recently, speaking for millions of retail employees around the country who never want to hear "When is the truck coming?" or "When will this product be back in stock?" ever again. While this may seem like an innocent request, it can make those employees feel bad at their jobs—or worse, under-appreciated. "We just don't know. Plus, anything could be on the trucks, not including the products you are asking for," the retail employee griped.

Other Reddit users joined in to underline their shared frustration with the question. "We have to employ entire teams of people to process, sort, and flow product onto the floor, which takes hour and hours but yeah[…] you can for sure get your toilet paper the instant the truck pulls in," quipped Reddit user @mister-diametric.

The only thing worse than asking this dreaded question? Walking a few feet away and asking another employee the same thing.

The best way to approach retail employees as stores reopen is with patience and understanding that things still aren't back to normal. Try coming up with a list of possible replacements for items that may be harder to find, or coordinating with friends or family to pick up specific items when they come across them. Just don't ask your cashier when they expect the next case of hand sanitizer to show up. And for more shopping mistakes you should avoid, check out The No. 1 Worst Thing You Can Do When Retail Stores Reopen.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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