Phenomenology can be understood as the ways that people know and experience things within their lives. In thinking about phenomenology it can be useful to study other people’s personal experiences with the environment they interact with. This could be the way that people attach meaning to certain places or how they gather the knowledge that may influence action in that place. According to Pauline Couper, one way geographers can get at the essence of human experience is to examine the “unexceptional things we take for granted” (Couper 93). In this unique time of the COVID-19 virus pandemic, people may be experiencing the ordinary differently to be sure. For this case, phenomenological ideas were used to evaluate how GNC customers interacted with the store and the sales associate within. Notably, these interactions took place after a stay at home order was issued to the state. The fact that these customers came in to begin with may suggest something about how they are experiencing the pandemic.
Most customers entering the store had a heightened sense of awareness when shopping. They seemed mindful of touching products or doing the smallest action. It is hard to say whether it was because they were trying to be protective of their own health or wanted the sales associate to see that they understand the gravity of the situation the world is in and they are adjusting their behavior accordingly. However, it is certain that after observing shoppers on such as small scale, the mundane chore or buying supplements has been affected at some scale, especially for high risk customers.
The customer interactions were as follows,
Customer#1 A man about 65 years old came in wearing a facemark. He took extra care not to touch the door handle. He bought fish oil and blackseed oil which are both notably for immune system support. He was looking for immune support elderberry which we were sold out of. He also put the items on the counter with the bar code facing me and did not take a bag.
Customer#2 A woman around 50 years old came in and also took care not to touch the door handle. She was not wearing gloves or a mask to protect herself. She bought multivitamins and also three bottles of hand sanitizer when she realized we sold it. She allowed me to touch the products and bag them but refused a receipt.
Customer#3 A woman around 70 years old came in and did not touch the door handle. She was not wearing gloves or a facemark. She bought co-Q10(for hear), Calcium (bone density), and lutein (eye health). She took a receipt and bag and allowed me to touch the products. She was a regular customer that was picking up her normal supplement stack.
Customer #4 Was a young man between 20-25. He did touch the door handle and bought a single energy drink. He was also my last customer around 8:30 and i thought it was strange he was buying an energy drink so late. Everything about the transaction went as a normal one would with no precautionary measures being taken for social distancing. A bystander could have seen that snapshot of an interaction and not have any clue it happened during the Covid-19 pandemic.