‘Maintain An Optimistic Spirit So We Can All Get Through This’: The View From A Cashier’s Counter

To curb the spread of COVID-19, nonessential businesses all across New York City have had to close. Grocery stores, however, are essential. Because they remain open to provide vital food and supplies to New Yorkers, cashiers like Jehvaugn Grant must continue to go outside, while so many others shelter in their homes.

Grant works at City Acres Market (70 Pine Street), and in a quiet yet confident voice over the phone, he gave the Downtown Alliance a sense of the new rhythms in his daily life, most of which involve taking measures to keep himself and others safe. “Stay six feet away from others and wear gloves and masks,” he said. “We have no way of knowing who might have the virus.” Grant described his PPE, his hand-washing routine and a new sprayer he uses to disinfect store surfaces. “It’s pretty quick and simple to do,” he said.

When not at work, Grant stays home and watches the news for coronavirus updates. When he thinks about looking back at this strange time from the future, he knows he’ll remember the emotional components clearly: “It takes a lot of courage and effort to go outside and do what you need to do.”

Despite the gravity of the circumstances, Grant seemed consistently determined and positive. He talked about how, at City Acres, fellow employees are kindly sharing their supplies of masks with one another. At the Wall Street subway station during his commute, he saw a man give his hand sanitizer to someone in need.

“I want people to maintain an optimistic spirit so we can all get through this,” he said.