Grocery assembler finds positivity during hard times

Biggest challenge is substituting items for customers; store receives about 50 to 60 orders per day

Dissmore%27s+employee+Gabriella+Aragon+said+she+goes+through+aisles+and+packages+groceries+for+customers+using+grocery+delivery.+

AMANDA HARLE | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Dissmore's employee Gabriella Aragon said she goes through aisles and packages groceries for customers using grocery delivery.

LAUREN ELLENBECKER, Evergreen reporter

Gabriella Aragon began her job at Dissmore’s as a florist, arranging gift baskets and colorful bunches of flowers. When the store began offering free grocery delivery to adjust to the anxiety of shopping during a pandemic, Aragon’s responsibilities shifted.

She worked in the grocery aisles by packaging orders for customers, as well as taking grocery requests over the phone and going through stacks of already placed orders. There are days where Aragon gets calls about every five minutes for a consecutive hour, she said.

 “There are moments where it seems like a lot and there’s an endless amount of orders to get through and not enough time to do them,” Aragon said. “At the end of the day, [I’m] able to do this for people and give them peace of mind.”

Various services have adapted to the pandemic by offering delivery to those avoiding public spaces. As people are preventing the spread of the coronavirus, grocery store employees continue to go to work in sometimes crowded areas to maintain essential services.

Archie McGregor, co-owner of Dissmore’s, said the grocery store’s delivery service has become more popular since the pandemic.

He said there is one person doing full-time delivery and 2-6 employees assembling orders every day. Dissmore’s receives about 50-60 grocery orders per day, McGregor said. The biggest challenge is substituting items for customers.

“We fill the orders the best we can when we never know what’s coming in,” he said.

Aragon said she imagines what customers are crafting at home by looking at what they buy. She said many people must be baking a lot of bread because flour is constantly being purchased.

“I do actually enjoy [assembling groceries],” Aragon said.

Aragon said she used to give herself a pep talk before going to work to ease her nerves of working in a public space. However, Aragon settled into the routine and said it is better for her to do it in order to keep vulnerable people safe. She said it is easy to get caught up in fear and panic, but “life just kind of goes on.”

At the end of Aragon’s shift, she goes home and immediately piles her clothes in a corner and takes a shower. She is equipped with random bottles of hand sanitizer, some of which date back to her Alive! Orientation four years ago. However, she retains the knowledge that she is helping others. This helps her take on the next day, she said.

“I’m really thankful to still have a job,” Aragon said. “I can’t complain about that. There’s millions of people who are out of work [and] I’m still able to pay my bills without having to scramble.”