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Trader Joe’s employees work together

by Mick Rhodes | mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com

Kristin Ortega, a captain at Trader Joe’s, has been with company 25 years. She was one of the original crew members who opened the Claremont location in 2008.

How are you holding up? 

“Fine. We’ve been doing this for over a month now, and I feel we’ve developed a good, safe routine. We know what to do. We’ve been so appreciative of the thank yous we’ve received, and the compliments. It means a lot to us.”

Is there anything that’s surprised you about all this, in a good way?

“The amount of songs about hand washing! My favorite is ‘I Want To Wash Your Hands’ to the tune of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ by the Beatles. We kind of share them around the crew if we hear them on the internet or something, and when we do our constant hand washing we joke about it. I can’t think of things that have surprised me, but there are things that have impressed me, like just the amount of cooperation and consideration that we’ve received from this community. We feel bad having to ask everyone to stand in line and stand six feet away from us  when we’re so used to having those close conversations and connections, but we’ve made so many friends with our customers, and everyone’s been so understanding. I’ve approached it with a sense of cooperation and wanting to help others. That’s been so impressive.”

Do you think life in Claremont will be different after the stay order is lifted? Anything specific?

“I think there will obviously be a different sense of awareness and of value of one another and our neighbors, that when you apply friendship and courtesy and kindness to anything, you can get through a crisis. Having lived and worked in this community for over 12 years, I’m confident that’s going to be our approach here in Claremont.”

More impressions from Trader Joe’s worker

Amelia Matye is a crew member at Trader Joe’s. She’ll have five months on the job at the end of April.

How are you holding up? 

“Really good actually. Coming to work, my friends and my family have been worried if I’m stressed or feeling anxiety. Actually coming to work has been really helpful, because we have a beautiful routine going on that’s safe for everybody, customers and employees alike. It’s just really nice to be able to interact with our family here and the customers. It’s been beautiful.”

Is there anything that’s surprised you about all this, in a good way?

“The way that people were able to take it with such grace and even humor at times, and just how they’ve all been there for each other. I’m watching people buy groceries for the neighbors and their families so that less people have to come out. And just how understanding they are, because we do have a very different process in the store. And most people have no problem waiting in line, and even let some people go in front of them if they see someone struggling. So that’s been really cool to see.”

Do you think life in Claremont will be different after the stay order is lifted? Anything specific?

“I think valuing our everyday process a lot more, like the small coffee shops that we like to go to, and just being able to take our time and hang out with people. And being able to have the freedom to do what you want, when you want. And going outside; I see a lot more people having picnics and taking walks outside, and that’s been really beautiful, so I hope that continues as well.”

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