Essential Humanism: Profiles of Courage in a Pandemic Part VIII: Sam Nealy

Tell us about your job. What are some of the ways it’s changed during the pandemic?

My job is to sell and rent uniforms and facility service items such as terry towels and mops to businesses. I service restaurants, mechanic shops, and construction companies that are all essential businesses and are adjusting to the pandemic as best they can. Many of my coworkers were fired or laid off, so I’m fortunate to continue working. Commission on accounts was also cut significantly.

How do you feel about being an “essential” part of the workforce? 

I am proud to keep the economy and country going but would rather be working from home.

Are you required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) while at work? Is it provided to you?

I am required to wear long trousers and safety shoes as well as any PPE required and provided by the companies I am visiting.

What’s something your employer is doing well during the pandemic?

My employer is communicating with us consistently about expectations and providing us masks and sanitizer.

What’s something you would change to make your work environment better or safer during the pandemic?

I don’t think it’s possible, as my work environment is other people’s businesses.

How does being an essential worker affect your family? What are their reactions?

I live with a family and I have to limit my proximity to them because I’m forced to be out and around people constantly. It’s challenging but necessary.

How can the public make your job easier and/or safer?

People should follow the public health guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I see many people not wearing masks or utilizing sanitizer and soap.

What kind of positive change do you hope comes out of the pandemic—for you, for society at large?

I hope that people continue to utilize online meetings for social purposes, because not everyone can attend in-person events even during normal times. I think that people being able to engage with each other during these social calls is great and I hope that businesses encourage people to work from home when possible because of the benefits to people and to the environment.

Does a religious faith inform your values? 

No, I tend to be very goal-focused and my morals/values are influenced by what I think benefits our society and myself. I don’t believe that intrinsic or objective morals exist, however I do believe there are objectively better ways to achieve subjective goals.

Do people you interact with on the job express religious beliefs to you or in other ways express their values?

Coworkers express their values to me and I personally welcome it because I believe in fostering discussions on these subjects.

What do you miss the most about your pre-pandemic life?