Coronavirus’s Retail Reality: Paula Punzalan

Paula has been working at Hollister since Black Friday of 2019.

Paula Punzalan

Paula has been working at Hollister since Black Friday of 2019.

“I started working at Hollister last year. My first day was Black Friday. Surprisingly, they just let me in to work on Black Friday, the most chaotic shopping day of the year. That was fun. I wanted to work at Hollister because it fit my style. And I was looking towards jobs that I kind of relate to, and I just didn’t want to work at a random shop like Coldstone. I wanted to work at a store where I could develop and learn from the clothing and the products that they sell.

 Before the pandemic the store was packed. Now at the store, we have these shields that cover the customer and the cashier. So that kind of prevents the whole ‘airborne virus’ thing. I think a big change that we had to make was implementing the social distancing markers on the floor, so customers can space themselves out. That’s not a problem this past month, because we don’t really have a lot of customers that are wanting to go, they usually just buy stuff online. 

I’m a senior and I’m very busy with college apps and a lot of my extracurriculars, working, and balancing community college classes. I’m a pretty busy person, so my shifts last year went from three shifts to one. Sometimes I don’t even want to work, honestly, because there’s way too much on my plate. I’m working at the bare minimum right now because I’m really busy. I think it’s been very stressful for seniors, especially, speaking from my experience. We just don’t know what to expect with colleges and balancing schoolwork as well.

 At Hollister, they do check up on us if we’ve had certain symptoms in the past 14 days, and if we’re good to work before we start actually working and starting our shift. We always set goals for shifts and a certain amount of tasks or a certain amount of clothes to sell. We’ve transformed to a more lenient system and we don’t need to sell a certain number of jeans every day, or every shift because we can’t. We just don’t know how many people to expect. 

 For safety reasons, I wear gloves. I think my coworkers look at me like I’m crazy, but one time I didn’t wear gloves, I had shortness of breath, I felt so sick. Maybe that’s just my anxiety of not wearing gloves for a shift. Even if my managers don’t tell me to clean the computers and the tablets that people touch to enter their Club Cali membership, I always grab a bottle of alcohol that we have in the cabinets. And I always spray it every time a customer leaves so it’s ready for another customer. On my first shift, I sprayed and cleaned the perfume bottles because they’d just been sitting there since March. I did that for fun, even though it wasn’t required, I was like, ‘Okay, these are kind of dusty.’ I clean regularly now every time I go to work. It’s a fun variety of my tasks at work, cleaning. And I like seeing things clean. I don’t like having the fear that I might be exposed to Corona. 

 It’s kind of complex, because I think I’ve matured into a way better person. Without the pandemic, I was personally feeling lost in my purpose. But then ever since I got alone time, I was able to figure out my priorities, and even shift out certain habits that I usually practice. So I think I’ve developed better habits and priorities ever since lockdown.”