TDV COVID-19 Writer's Perspectives Part II
Written by Jared Floryshak, Leslie Dorantes, Mitchell Kurek, and Thomas Luu
Ever since I returned home for spring break, I have been working like crazy. I work in a local supermarket in my home town of Scranton, PA. During the week of “Spring Break” I worked around 70 hours. To put it into perspective, I typically work as a Cashier/Customer Service Representative, and throughout all this, I am being called to also work in the grocery department to stock shelves. This happened for a number of reasons, but mainly because our grocery department simply doesn’t have the manpower to handle the amount of product we’re ordering. Our product order is nearly tripled because of the number of things people are buying, and the amount of business we’re doing has exceeded (by far) what we do on traditional holidays, which are normally our busiest time.
Since classes resumed, I am still working 30-35 hours a week. My typical day consists of waking up early, doing work before my online classes on ZOOM, going to work, eating dinner, and staying up late at night to complete my remaining schoolwork. It’s extremely exhausting after a long day of work, but I’m doing my best to power through. After all, I am now seen as an “Essential Employee” and thinking about the impact I am making in my community simply by going to work brings me great joy. I have never taken an online class before, and I do not plan to take one again. I love our campus and would do anything to be back in the classroom. I hope this is all over soon.
Everyday that passes, it feels like something comes up in the news crazier than the day before. Each day more people are dying, and honestly, even after a month of this, it still doesn’t seem real. I’m currently living in South Texas where my grandmother passed away a few weeks after the Coronavirus started making it’s way across America. I first began to see the effects of COVID-19 at my grandmother’s funeral. There were strict restrictions that my family had to follow: for example, only 10 people (including my deceased grandmother) were allowed to be in the funeral home at one time. Everyone else had to stand outside of the funeral home waiting for someone else to come out to pay their respects. It was also suggested to us that we stay with our immediate families and try not to hug and kiss anyone outside of that. This, of course, doesn’t stick very well when families are grieving the loss of a loved one. Along with this, my family, being Catholic, usually would have a wake or rosary, which is a ceremony that usually lasts around 8 hours. Because of the restrictions due to COVID, it was only allowed to be 4 hours, plus a priest was not allowed to attend it. The next day was the burial, which again came with restrictions. Only 10 family members were allowed near the casket at any given time. Along with this, everyone had to be distanced around 6 feet apart from each other the entire time.
Even with all the restrictions, our family was lucky compared to those whose loved ones died of the Coronavirus. Many of the disease’s victims are being cremated to lower the risks of the disease continuing to spread and their families aren’t able to plan proper funerals as they had anticipated. Many families have had to use backup plans like live streams and Zoom video chats to watch their loved ones get buried. One of the father’s co-workers had his father pass away in the state of Michigan, which has traveling restrictions. Unfortunately, he was stopped by police and fined $500 then sent back home and had to watch the funeral through a video chat. COVID-19 needs to be taken very seriously by all of us as the numbers continue to rise. The only way to truly slow this pandemic down is if we each do our part. While it seems so distant from us that it could never affect you, it can, even in the smallest of ways. Right now, while COVID is hitting its peak, we need to remember to stay home, be prepared, and stay safe.
The abrupt end to my second year at Thomas Jefferson University left me with a very odd feeling. I guess while I was packing my belongings into my car about a month and a half ago, I didn’t truly understand how dramatically our society was changing. I thought of the pandemic more as a snow storm more than I did a lasting world crisis. As the days have carried on, the dullness of online classes and the same scenery are growing steadily unbearable. I want sports, I want to see crowds of people, and I yearn for the simple nature that we were enjoying only months ago. It seems increasingly difficult to keep myself occupied and I’m sure I am not alone.
In the relatable boredom that we are all sharing during this seemingly never-ending quarantine I turned to podcasts to give me some sort of entertainment. In a recent Joe Rogan podcast, the show’s guest, Eric Weinstein, a mathematician and economist from MIT said, “The big nap is over.” To my knowledge, he nor anyone else has coined this phrase, but its message is alarming. His purpose behind saying it is that we are headed towards an unprecedented future. As a law and society major, I found his words both remarkably interesting and frightening. The days that lie ahead are going to alter our perceptions of normal. We may never get back to the nonchalant lives we once knew and humorously this shift has occurred during a period in my life when I was just beginning to understand how everything worked. For now, I, like many other of my friends, will be taking my talents to Call of Duty Warzone in hopes of forgetting the world for a bit longer.
Long lines at the supermarket, the streets deserted, it’s official: the apocalypse is here. Or not. Apparently.
Despite the alarming statistics listing the thousands who have died or the millions filing unemployment, it’s not a world I can see readily for myself. More accurately, I can’t see anyone else. I know, seeing a grainy mosaic that vaguely resembles the people I know and love has been key to not going insane, but there’s a disconnect that loses a lot in translation. Not a complete counter to the intensity of isolation and a repetitive lifestyle. Though in saying that, there’s a weird contradiction that exists.
Half a year ago, a lighthearted joke was always made on how we should approach 2020 with 20/20 vision. Cheesiness aside, there is truth to be salvaged from that statement. For many of us, the entire world has been effectively been put on ice. Paused, as if Adam Sandler was behind it all. You would think that repetition would suggest a bountiful supply of time on one’s side, but it’s more nuanced than that.
In essence, there are two sides of this coin. Either:
I’m isolated from my friends and I have to find ways to keep myself occupied
This is the break I’ve been waiting for to do everything I’ve ever wanted to do, like picking up that one book or curing cancer.
I, like anyone else, would love to have been in that second, more optimistic camp. Sure, the first weeks away were tough, but I eventually came to the realization that I could escape the past that has haunted me for so long, and had been given a grand opportunity to forge a new me.
However, “could” isn’t “did.”
So yeah, the apocalypse definitely hasn’t happened, but time has definitely sobered up a lot of the struggles both new and old that I’ve had. It sobered up the dream of being able to take on the world all at once and alone, but sobered the fear and disappointment when realizing that it wasn’t possible. The satisfaction of renewal isn’t instantaneous, but a gradual process. And, for me at least, it all began by re-exploring my roots and not by snipping away the unsightly branches. They eventually grow back, you know.