Denver author pens novel about being a frontline cashier during pandemic

Adam Kaat's debut book is a fictional account mirroring his experiences

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In 2019, Denver blogger Adam Kaat left his corporate job to focus on his writing.

At the time, he had the first draft of a novel completed. Kaat sought a job that was active, but not mentally draining so he could continue work on his debut novel.

Kaat, 36, of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, secured a job in January 2020 as a cashier at a busy, high-end grocery store in Cherry Creek. He enjoyed being a point person for customer service, and especially, the social aspect of the job.

But shortly after settling in, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

By March 15, there were mask orders in place, workers had to sanitize their registers between every customer and shoppers began to hoard groceries and toiletries, Kaat said. He added there was a lot of general panic at that time.

“Everyone’s working overtime (and) being called a hero,” Kaat said. “We had no other choice than to go with the flow.”

Kaat then decided to set the novel he had been working on aside, and began to blog about being a frontline worker during an unprecedented time. The blog gained a following, and prompted to Kaat to write what would become his first published novel: “Life on the Grocery Line: A Frontline Experience in a Global Pandemic.”

The book was published in April this year. It is a work of fiction, but mirrors a lot of Kaat’s experiences as a grocery store employee.

“Life on the Grocery Line” tells the story through the eyes of the character, David, a cashier at the fictional Dream Grocers store during the pandemic.

“The book shows the human side of everyday interactions that people might not think about,” Kaat said. “Hopefully, it makes you laugh, (and) think about the future and to be good to each other.”

Did anything in particular inspire you to become a writer?

I think I have always been a writer. I just needed to find the focus to sit down and write. It’s the best way for me to work through the things — both happy and sad — that happen in my life.

I did not discover my love of writing until my last year in college when I began reading more for fun and finding a wider variety of writers. I started dabbling with blogs then and I fell in love.

I enjoy meeting people and hearing their stories. My book has brought me closer to people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. It’s a fun journey.

What did you enjoy most about writing "Life on the Grocery Line?"

It was therapeutic to sit down and sort through the craziness of the early pandemic. There was a heavy burden put on grocery workers and other essential employees. With all of the uncertainty of the times, I was grateful to have a project to work on.

What can your fans expect from you next?

I am working on the sequel to “Life on the Grocery Line,” where we meet back up with Daniel a year later as he is going through his year review at work. I hope to have it out in spring of 2022.

In what ways do you think people will be able to relate to “Life on the Grocery Line”?

Daniel is a normal guy thrust into unforeseen circumstances and he has to grapple with many of the problems we all went through during the first few months of the pandemic.

Hopefully, it helps us all understand what we went through.

As the pandemic wears on and we move back toward “normalcy,” I think it can help remind us how fragile everything is. I think doing that can help ground us and give a better perspective on the future.

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