Branimira (Bianca) Milkova is a cashier at Cronig’s.

Ms. Milkova is from Bulgaria and has worked at Cronig’s for about 10 years. Usually, she is a fixture at the up-Island store in West Tisbury but when that store shut down last month to consolidate the business during the pandemic she started working at the Vineyard Haven store.

Bianca Milkova is a cashier at Cronig's. — Jeanna Shepard

“It’s different there,” she said. “At up-Island it feels like a family with my regular customers.”

Ms. Milkova lives in Falmouth and commutes to the Vineyard for work. She gets up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the 6 a.m. ferry and after a 10-hour shift takes the 5 p.m. boat back. On Monday, a few of the evening ferries were canceled and she didn’t return home until 10:30 p.m. Her husband and her four-year-old daughter waited up for her.

She said people often ask her how she can do the commute each day.

“That’s my job, that’s my choice,” she said. “Plus, for 45 minutes each way it’s my time. Nobody bothers me. People going to Boston have traffic. There’s no traffic on the ferry. It’s time just for me.”

But the new routine of wearing gloves and a mask at work is not easy, she said. It took her four tries before she found a mask she could tolerate for the long day.

“It is really hard wearing a mask during a 10-hour shift. I got a lot of headaches at first. But the body adjusts.”

The gloves gave her a rash so now she uses hand sanitizer after each interaction.

“Every day is something new,” she said. “Communication is so hard while wearing a mask. I ask the customers to keep their distance but they can’t hear me. It’s actually kind of funny.”

“It’s something new for everyone, for me, for the customers, we are all adjusting,” she added. “What else can you do but look on the bright side. If you’re smiling behind the mask, you can see it in the eyes.”

-Bill Eville