10 Lessons from My First 100 Batches as a {Reluctant} Instacart Shopper - Elisabeth Klein

While many have found themselves sheltering-in-place during this coronavirus crisis, I have found myself venturing out into the world more than I ever did before (or want to, for that matter).

My life was a sweet one, pre-virus. I worked from home, doing a job I loved, doing a job I was called to, doing a job that allowed me to help one woman after another, while staying true to how I am wired up and who I am: namely a shy, introverted, kinda-low-energy, melancholy homebody.

But then the virus hit. And it took my business out at the knees. Apparently – and I understand, I truly do – being coached or taking a virtual course are not essentials during this time.

I didn’t – and still don’t frankly – have the emotional bandwidth or creativity to pivot as all the online entrepreneurs keep telling me to do:

THIS IS OUR TIME!
HUSTLE HUSTLE HUSTLE!
MORE PEOPLE ARE TAKING ONLINE COURSES THAN EVER!

Well, they ain’t taking mine. So, I’ve had to hustle and pivot in a different way.

Question: how to make money during a global pandemic?

The only answer I could come up with: shop for and deliver groceries to people’s homes.

As I hit my one hundredth batch this week (woot-woot!), I have some super random thoughts and lessons to share.

1) I can do things I don’t want to do. I’m sure I knew this before but I forgot. But being beyond blessed to have created (with God) a redemptive career that I LOVE with my whole heart, I have been super spoiled. I haven’t had a job I didn’t like in years and years and years. It never occurred to me that I’d be in a position to have to do the kind of work that – HONORABLE that it is – is mostly being done by college-aged boys.

2) I apparently needed to be humbled a bit. I have long considered myself an immature, selfish, bratty diva and I did not want to do this. My husband pointed out that an immature, selfish, bratty diva wouldn’t be doing this, so I must not be one after all. When I argued early on, but I’m moping all day every day, he countered, you might be moping but you’re still getting out there and doing something, that’s more than a lot of people would do.

3) I can do things even when I’m depressed and anxious. Depression and anxiety have been a part of my natural bent for a long time, but they have both upped their game during this virus season. I now ask for God’s comfort to overtake my sadness and his peace to overtake my anxiety during the shopping and deliveries, as I have caught myself a few times holding back tears in the store with sadness about the state of our world right now and about the future of my work, as well as feeling my heart start pounding with anxiety about getting or giving COVID while being a shopper. But I keep going.

4) My anxiety has made me (even more) judgmental. I CANNOT STAND seeing someone in the store without a mask. It infringes on your freedom, you say? It’s a free country, you yell (like a third grader on a playground). Here’s a thought: IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU. IT IS ABOUT NOT PASSING ON THE VIRUS THAT YOU MAY HAVE EVEN THOUGH YOU FEEL FINE. IT IS ABOUT LOVING OTHERS. Anyway, I’ve noticed I scowl (under my mask) at the unmasked and smile real big (not that they can see) at the law-abiders / fellow human-lovers. I’m working on this. I’m working on showing grace and reminding myself that we’ve all collectively never been through something like this and every single person is dealing with it differently. (But still: just wear a mask, because bottomline, it is about taking care of each other.)

5) The bigger the house, the smaller the tip. Most rich people, I have found, have not been generous. A $2 tip? Really? I just did a task that normally takes you an hour and I basically just kinda saved the lives of you and your family and put my life and my family’s life at risk, but thanks for the TWO DOLLARS.

6) I hopefully will be kinder and more compassionate to those in the service industry moving forward. Being seen as invisible, being talked down to, being ordered around by a peer all suck. So now I’m looking each cashier and grocery store clerk in the eyes and I’m saying lots more cheery thank-you’s than I ever did before, and I hope I keep that up.

7) I’m much more aware of my physicality now. First, I am beyond grateful that I am able-bodied, that I literally have what it takes to do this job. But secondly, I am reminded daily that I am no spring chicken. At almost 50, I am rubbing Icy Hot on various aching parts of my body now after a day of lifting gallons of milk, twenty-four packs of bottled water and pop, along with the occasional bag of charcoal and twenty-five pound ham. In other words, I’m old, but I’m not as fragile as I tend to think I am.

8) There are bots in this world. Oh, those darn bots! Apparently, there is a (super unethical) third-party app that shoppers can pay for so that they can gain first access to the higher paying batches. I watch them pop up on my phone and disappear before I can swipe on them. It’s SO FRUSTRATING.

9) Dog people are interesting people. When you say to a dog person who has let their dog out to greet you, “I’m scared of and allergic to dogs,” they will magically hear, “please let your dog continue to touch, sniff and jump on me.”

10) Even someone like me who has a slight negative bent to her can choose to make the best of a situation. First, as I wait for batches to pop up, I’m choosing to walk up and down the street by the grocery store, hitting about 10,000 steps or more each day now, so I’m getting more fresh air and exercise and I’m losing weight which was an unexpected perk. And secondly, from the first batch I did, I decided that I would pray for each family that I deliver to. I ask God to pour out his protection, provision, peace and health over each shopper and her family, and I drop a little note into their groceries. Light can still win and I’m going to keep spreading it.

If you’ve had to take on different work right now, how’s it going for you? What are you learning about yourself and the world and God?

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