I don’t normally like complaining on the Internet, but I felt that this situation was particularly egregious, and risks people’s health needlessly.
This morning, after months of putting off donating unwanted home goods, I drove to the GoodWill drop-off center on Wisconsin Street in San Francisco. There was a “supervisor” who waved me in. Despite there being only one car in the parking lot, he had me park right behind that car. It seemed too close, but I figured that I could keep 6 ft. of separation as long as the people in front of me didn’t come near my trunk, where I would be unloading ~10 bags. Sensing that this would not be a fast drop-off, I donned my N95, and put a bandanna over it as well to cover the exhaust valve.
The first thing that I noticed was that, while having masks, many of the workers, including the supervisor, didn’t cover their nose with the mask, which defeats the purpose of the mask. Also, the workers in blue shirts weren’t keeping 6 feet of separation between themselves.
Secondly, I noticed that they had placed about 20 huge bins, ten on a side, on the two sides of the parking lot. So instead of a quick drop-off, now they were asking people to unpack all of their bags, and then run around the parking lot trying to figure out where to put things. The signs were very small, so you had to walk around to figure out what each one said. This seemed to take what, from a donor’s perspective, would be a low-risk quick drop-off of goods, to something that would require you to spend a fair amount of time unpacking your bags, and sorting by walking around the parking lot, which was quickly filling up behind me with more cars. It would be increasingly hard to maneuver around the bins and cars while maintaining 6 feet of separation between the workers and other donors milling about.
While I was asking the supervisor (the one with bare nostrils) about what goes where, I put my hand up to my ear as in “I can’t really hear you”, because there was a construction project right behind him, with a jack-hammer going off. He decided to come a bit closer to me, within 6 feet. So I backed up instead of telling him to back up, to try to avoid any misunderstandings. He instead took offense, saying, “Do you have a problem?”. I replied back to him, “No, it’s just that you’re not maintaining six feet of space.” He then replied, “Well, then you came to the wrong place, because here it’s real close.” By that point, there were five cars in the parking lot, all parked almost bumper-to-bumper.
At that point I said, “… then I’m leaving”; I no longer felt comfortable in that situation. While I want to support GoodWill’s mission, what they were doing there was destructive and harmful to their donors and to their workers.
This experience has given me little hope that we can keep the economy open. The SF Chronicle recently published an article saying that a study found that in a random group of 25 people in SF, there was a 34% chance that one of them has a SARS-CoV-2 infection. If businesses are allowing people to aggregate in large numbers without proper mask-wearing (e.g., covering your mouth and nose), and not caring about maintaining 6 feet of separation, then the spread of the pandemic will not be curtailed. I hope by writing this up I can bring this to the attention of GoodWill and the City of San Francisco, because my experience today was unacceptable from a public health perspective.