Tyrone Laskey says it was sometimes difficult to keep smiling when the COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented demand from shoppers. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Longtime Safety Mart employee says he’s never seen anything like it

Tyrone Laskey says of unprecedented year ‘I always smiled, like I’ve always done’

John Douglas: Please consider Mr. Tyrone Laskey, who has cheerfully and faithfully laboured through the pandemic at Safety Mart Foods. He always greets us with a smile and asks how we are doing. Tyrone is the best of our best.”

“It was sometimes difficult to keep smiling,” says Laskey, who has been with Ashcroft Safety Mart for 28 years come October. “It was very overwhelming.”

He’s talking about spring 2020, when the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic became apparent. Stores had almost no warning of what was about to hit them, and no chance to prepare. “We couldn’t plan for it. It wasn’t like at Christmas and other holidays; it was something I’ve never seen in all these years. We had all these people, and it was disheartening at times. But I always smiled, like I’ve always done. It’s part of customer service. Most people understood. It’s a pretty understanding community, especially the regulars.”

Despite the difficulties, Laskey says that he was grateful to be working. “I still had pay coming in; a lot of people didn’t.”

He adds that he has a hard time accepting that he’s considered a frontline worker. “When I think of frontline workers I think of health care workers, pharmacists, people at the schools.”

Laskey has two school-age children, and says that his son Lynden, 11, brought up some concerns about his father’s job. “He knows what’s going on in the world. I told him I was safe.”

He also notes that he is just one of 18 people at the store. “We have a very good team and I’m a part of it. We’re a pretty tight-knit group, and we’ve got tighter as we’ve gone through this.”


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