During a trip to my local Shoprite Thursday night, I spoke briefly to my cashier, Dawn, about how busy the store was earlier in the day (very) and how much my 4-year-old son loves Cheez-Its (a lot). It occurred to me that outside of my wife and kids, it was the only in-person conversation I’ve had all week (and it had to be made through a plexiglass barrier installed to protect her).

Grocery store employees are unsung heroes on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Not only do they risk infection to keep our families fed and our pantries full, they offer one of the last remaining opportunities to interact with another human being. And they’re forced to deal with unending complaints from anxious customers about out-of-stock items and special “senior shopping hours” seen by some as an inconvenience.

At a grocery store in Northeast Pennsylvania, a woman was arrested after she intentionally coughed on $15,000 worth of produce and claimed she had coronavirus. Instead of running out of the store, more than a dozen employees helped throw out items and clean up the area.

“People take drugstore and grocery store workers for granted," Wendell Young, president of Local 1776 Keystone State of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, told the Inquirer. I couldn’t agree more. Not all heroes wear masks — some wear aprons instead.

» READ MORE: Is the grocery store even safe? In Philly region, it’s improving, but there are additional steps you can take.

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