When Michael Varesio joined the ranks of Shipt shoppers in January, he never anticipated a pandemic that would turn him into an essential worker.
It was overwhelming: The 47-year-old Boynton Beach resident worked 61 days straight, took a day off, then toiled 21 more days, frantically buying groceries for people who feared leaving their homes.
“Nobody was ready for this. The orders were insane. I felt bad if I didn’t take an order, I was worried someone wouldn’t be able to get groceries. I tried to do too much and had to cut back,” he admits.
“Low inventory made the job stressful. Toilet paper and paper towels were scarce. Then the bread aisle was empty for weeks. After that, flour was gone. I haven’t seen anything with the word Lysol on it for months,” says Varesio, a father of two. “I felt bad texting people every two seconds to update them. I didn’t know what they were doing. They might have been working or feeding the baby. Most said not to worry (if I was late), that they weren’t going anywhere, which made things easier.”
Although the workload decreased and inventory increased, risks linger.
“I’m aware of the possibilities of getting COVID and I take all the precautions and follow the rules to stay healthy. And after I put the groceries in the car, I sanitize my hands and clean my phone,” he explains.
The outpouring of appreciation is an enormous perk. From Ziploc bags filled with masks to generous tips to thoughtful handmade thank-you notes, customers’ gratefulness is heartwarming, Varesio says.
“The most surprising thing is the gratitude. I keep the thank-you notes. They mean so much,” he says.
“I’m putting myself at risk, but I know I am helping people. I am not a nurse or a doctor, but I know that I am helping others and it feels good. I’m making a difference during a tough time.”
— Linda Haase