Adam Jonathan Kaat is the author of Life on the Grocery Line: A Frontline Experience in a Global Pandemic and The Patron Saints of Grocery: A Novel. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, he started the blog called “Life on the Grocery line” to process the turmoil he was dealing with while he worked in a grocery store. You can read it here: He is always writing, drinking whiskey or gin and caught up in the tireless pursuit of writing immortality.

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On his first day as a cashier at Dream Grocers, Daniel imagines that the worst he’ll have to deal with on the job are the occasional grumpy customers and long days on his feet. But in just one week’s time, reality changes entirely as the COVID-19 pandemic creates a frenzied panic throughout Daniel’s home state of Colorado. Now, he’s suddenly being called a hero just for showing up at his job, and he isn’t sure how to feel about that. As the uncertainty and paranoia around the virus spread rapidly, Daniel tries to stay afloat and not let the irate hordes of customers bring him down. He learns more than he ever expected to about humanity’s response to fear, observing most prominently the way that some people look down on the very workers they deem “essential”.

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When the novelty and initial shock of the pandemic have worn off, what’s left for the forgotten “heroes” working the front lines of our essential stores? Understaffed and underpaid, the crew at Dream Grocers are simply survive by day by day, and Daniel starts to feel the numbness stemming from an underappreciated life. Working hard and climbing the ranks feel meaningless without any recognition, and the slow grind of retail life begins to take its toll.
The Patron Saints of Grocery picks up after the events of Life on the Grocery Line, and checks back in on Daniel while he navigates a year in the life of a grocery-store employee amid the confusion of COVID-19. New pressures from climbing the corporate ladder, protocols and regulations from the government, and the increasingly restless public will all impose their wills on his dreams. Will he finally get the push he needs to prioritize a secret alternative life moonlighting as a panda for social media, or will he just fade away into the retail abyss?

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