SASKATOON -- When Jordan Stovra reflects on what working at his grocery store was like in the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic, he remembers a wall of people determined to buy whatever they could.

“There were so many people here at one time,” Stovra explained to Eric Anderson, YXE Underground host. “It was Christmas every day. It was December 23rd, our busiest day of the year, every day, and it felt like that for two months.”

Stovra started working at the Varsity Common Sobey’s in Saskatoon when he was 16 years old. Eight years later, he jokes that he’s a jack-of-all-trades and master of none when it comes to his role at the store.

Stovra is one of hundreds of grocery store workers in our community who are essential workers. For Stovra, not only was his job overwhelming during the first weeks of the pandemic, he often struggled at times with customers who were filled with anxiety while shopping. It forced him to show more empathy.

“Everyone is going through the pandemic and dealing with their own life issues, so if someone is a bit sour to you at work, you shouldn’t really take it that personally.”

Being deemed an essential worker has given Stovra a greater appreciation for his job. He’s seen friends working in the restaurant industry laid off for periods of time and forced to apply for financial benefits due to COVID-19.

“We were considered essential and I didn’t have to worry about paying rent, but I know a lot of friends of mind did have to worry about it. It made me a lot more appreciative of the job I had.”

Stovra notes that more customers are doing their shopping as quickly as possible and he admits to missing the conversations with his regular shoppers. However, he’s thankful for the support of his colleagues through some very challenging times.

“One hundred percent I can rely on my colleagues. I would be so lost without them. A lot of them are able to help especially if you have not worked in an area before. You can always rely on their help which is great.”