Destination 2

Frontline Workers During the Pandemic

Fiction - Drama
132 Pages
Reviewed on 11/28/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite

Destination 2: Frontline Workers During the Pandemic by Tarze Thomas is a collection of two stories about working in retail during the pandemic. The first story is Bailey’s Decision. Bailey has lost her husband and lives alone with her cats. Struggling to cope, she decides to take a job in retail in a Supercenter. Once there, she discovers that she is faced with some of the worst customers and finds herself having to make a tough decision. In the second story, aliens are heading for Destination 2, Planet Earth. They want to see if they can take over the planet and send one of their scouts, disguised as a human, to work in a big box store. The pandemic breaks out, all hell is let loose, and “Angel” finds herself facing a nightmare as people’s true natures shine through. She has to decide whether the invasion is a good idea – will she or won’t she?

Destination 2: Frontline Workers During the Pandemic by Tarze Thomas is a fascinating collection. The first is a short story and the second is a longer-length novella. Both stories highlight what some of the human race has become, the sheer level of entitlement some people display, their disregard for others, and the devil-may-care attitude toward the destruction they wreak on the planet. The author worked in retail while the pandemic was ongoing and these are real experiences she faced, with the hoarding, swearing, face-mask arguments, and more; everything we all read about on the news but which most of us were lucky enough not to have to face down.

These stories are well-written, somewhat bittersweet tales that call out humanity for what it has become. You may think the second story is a little repetitive but that’s what retail is – the same thing every day. Both stories get their point across in a thoroughly enjoyable, amusing in places way. Anyone who works in retail will see themselves here and they may even recognize many of the customer types. If you want to see the real effects of the pandemic on human nature, ditch the news and read these stories instead – herein lies the truth.

Leonard William Smuts

Author Tarze Thomas speaks from experience in a two-part satirical reflection on life as a retail worker. In “Bailey’s Decision” - a short story - recently widowed Bailey Brown is faced with financial hardship and applies for a position at a local supercenter during the Covid-19 pandemic. As a checkout clerk she faces the usual assortment of customers, from shoplifters to the downright impossible. Covid-19 poses a risk, as preventative guidelines are not always enforced. Ultimately she must face another decision - whether or not to stay. In “Destination 2”, life in retail is viewed from an off-planetary perspective. An alien insect-like creature is transformed into a human woman to gather information about life and the resources on planet Earth. In particular, her planet is short of sugar, which is abundant on Earth. She is placed as a cashier in a large and busy store in America. Her new body only functions in human form for a limited time each day - a situation which has peculiar challenges. She observes first-hand the unruly behaviour of earthlings and their unwillingness to either accept Covid-19 or observe basic precautions. Having experienced life as a store employee, she must report back to her superiors.

Although not an autobiography, Tarze Thomas bases much of this book on her personal reminiscences. The tough working conditions in “Bailey's Decision” are mirrored in “Destination 2”, but from a very different and perhaps more humorous perspective. Covid-19 seems to have brought out the worst in humanity. Rudeness, selfishness, entitlement, anger and denial are all exposed. Our unhealthy love for sugar is a recurring theme, as is our indifference to climate change. The disrespectful treatment of retail workers by both customers and employers is also highlighted. These real issues are immediately apparent to an alien outsider and are dealt with in an amusing but thought-provoking manner. Does life on planet Earth really have that much to recommend it? I really enjoyed this book!

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

The pandemic opened our eyes to many anomalies and unfair practices in many frontline employment situations. Financially strapped with mounting medical bills after her husband’s lengthy illness and death, Bailey seeks employment at a superstore in the middle of the pandemic. Like other frontline workers, Bailey witnesses all manner of absurd, rude, and disgusting behavior that makes her re-think the future of humanity. Another story follows the adventures of an extraterrestrial species (or alien) studying humanity by visiting a big box store during the pandemic. He/she/it witnesses all manner of abhorrent human traits as the hoarding and rage-infused anger fits take control. The way people behaved during the pandemic (and still behave now) is worrisome for the future of humanity.

Author Tarze Thomas has first-hand experience in working the frontlines in a big box store during the height of the pandemic. Taking stories from her own experiences, the author weaves engaging and yet troubling plots of what it now appears to mean to be human. The short story is a blatant revelation of some of the horrors frontline workers faced and the novella, Destination2, points out the picture we’re painting of reality here on Earth. The short story and the novella are brought together in her book, Destination2: Frontline Workers During the Pandemic, in a troubling presentation of the growing number of frantically impossible and aggressive people. Each story has a message for all of us, but perhaps many of us don’t want to look at ourselves in the mirror and see who we really are. Powerful thoughts.