Last Wednesday seven scared and uncertain CERES staff came over to the Fair Food warehouse for an induction.
Leaving their roles in Education, Marketing, Venue Hire, Hospitality and Reception over the next week they have come to pack orders, clean the line and answer phones.
In the upstairs meeting room, spread out in Corona spacing, we go through the mechanics of working in a logistics enterprise – there’s a weight in the air and it feels any moment we’ll all start crying.
When we walk down to the packing floor there are smiles, familiar faces and yells of “Hey” to old friends.
It’s not lost on the new workers that they are being welcomed by people who know intimately about having the world pulled from under their feet.
For now we are all safe together; but we tip-toe a delicate line, hope upon hope that we can keep this going, that in the coming months none of us gets sick.
Last week, swamped under an avalanche of new orders, we capped our delivery numbers and stopped taking new members.
Even though they’re packing and delivering three times as many items as they did a month ago the operations and customer service teams are finding their feet.
On Wednesday night Richelle, who runs customer service, says with relief she only has 240 more emails to answer.
I have to smile when a call goes out asking if all the people emailing hundreds of messages of support could post them on Facebook or Instagram instead because the customer service crew was feeling bad about not having the time to answer them all.
When we get through this we’re going to get together in the big upstairs meeting room and we’ll drink beer and lemonade and take turns reading out the all these messages.
But for now we are trying to make the warehouse safe.
This coming week everything is about cleaning and separation; separating the packing crew from the driving and office crews, getting deliveries dropped at the front door and keeping “outsiders” outside.
It feels like we are sealing the warehouse off from the world.
When we’ve made things as safe as we can we’ll start a second shift and begin delivering food to the people who have been missing out.
Business as usual
And life goes on, oblivious to all our turmoil. Last week I got a text from Shane O’Dea….
Hi Josh and Chris.
I hope you are keeping well during these challenging times. We saw your post on Instagram saying that you can’t wait for our fresh pistachios.
They are big and tasty this week and the wait is over. Just let me know how many you would like and I’ll bring them to you (free delivery as always).
We have kept them the same price for you this year to thank you for your support over the past few years and because many people are doing it tough at the moment.
It’s great that you are doing extra deliveries to help. This pandemic is bringing the best and worst out in people!
We are trying to do more fresh this year as a way of supplying high nutrition food in these times of shortage and uncertain supply.
Shane O’Dea, Wahrina Pistachios.
Have a safe week