No one likes admitting they are overpowered. And let’s face it, sometimes we have no choice—when we’re unprepared. And preparation proves to be a huge part of survival. Are we prepared? I’m not talking about three weeks ago when the scare was exciting…. shopping! I mean, it wasn’t completely fun, because the change wasn’t a choice. But you’ve gotta admit, shaking up our normalcy broke the monotony—for a minute. But after a while, reality set in. It’s no longer the semi-fun game of survival.
People we know now are affected or even dying. All ages; no one is exempt, primarily our healthcare workers. Others take advantage by using the “my roommate died, and I’m closing her account to open my own” card. (Forget the fact the account is 4 months delinquent without any supportive documents.) Clearly, everyone has their own coping mechanism under such dire circumstances.
Our kids are home all day—playing on their phones, listening to music, watching the “boob tube,” as my father used to call it. (Not to be confused with the dated Tube Tops.) If we’re fortunate enough to maintain our working positions, most of us have a makeshift office at the kitchen table. Others brave the public, each and every day attending our public sectors and risking their own family’s safety in exchange for food, supplies, and a residence. Some aren’t so lucky.
Since we moved into our apartment nine months ago, as many people have moved out in the past two weeks as have in the months prior. Where will they go? Living with others who risk their own wellbeing by allowing potential carriers who may infect their own to join them? In their vehicles without a place to park? A shelter perhaps, crawling with addicts whose fix precedes anyone’s health?
As heartless as it sounds, my own experience a few weeks ago still haunts me—and the virus wasn’t as prominent as it is now. I’d ordered some books for my daughter from Barnes and Noble. A salesgirl from the front to my car. My daughter hopped out and addressed an elderly woman who stood confused as the sales girl returned to the safety inside. The other woman yelled something to my daughter as I commanded her to get into the car and close the door.
“That lady needs your help,” Nikki murmured as she strapped into the seatbelt. Glancing out my window, the woman remained between our vehicles, arm outstretched, with a small, black box in her hand. Her lips were moving as she exaggeratedly repeated the same words. “What’s wrong with her?” I asked, noting the sheer panic on the old woman’s face.
Except for our two vehicles, the lot was empty, and there wasn’t anyone nearby. I got out, keeping my own safe distance, and the woman informed me she couldn’t get her SUV started. She’d called her son, but he wasn’t answering. This clearly meant she had no husband, at least, available.
I prompted her to turn the key while I listened and heard a clicking sound. “Sounds like either your alternator or battery,” I suggested. It clearly wasn’t getting power. “Can you look and see?” she asked with pleading eyes. I’m definitely no mechanic. And I damn sure have no familiarity with a high end BMW vehicle like the one in front of me. Plus, she was elderly. Everyone knows the older generation is even more susceptible to the virus, and I didn’t want to get near her. She continued clicking her device in an attempt to start it up. “Stop doing that and call your son again,” I told her. “Tell him you’re not getting power. At least then he can be better prepared.”
I hurried back to my car and got in before she could say anything more. Rolling down my window, with the situation of her being an elderly woman in an expensive vehicle by herself, I rolled my window down and hollered, “Get in your truck, lock the doors, and don’t open them until he arrives.”
Putting my window up, I drove past her and saw her following my instructions. “We’re just leaving her?” I heard my daughter, but couldn’t say anything. I was ashamed. I was doing all the things against what I’d taught her for years as she grew up. We drove home without a word. I kept hearing a voice in my head advising me to protect my kids and myself. I’m the sole income. If I get sick, our ship is sunk. And then I thought about how cold our world is becoming—not out of selfishness, but out of self- preservation.
My mind returned to a few days before, my daughter and I had stopped at the grocer for some quick dinner ideas. While we were there, a huge collection of people gathered with one store employee raising his arms above his head. “Okay, when I open it, the max you can have is two!” he shouted. Creeping closer, I saw a pallet of toilet paper, still wrapped in shrink wrap. It reminded me of the Black Fridays I avoid like the plague. But as he rose with plastic streaming from one hand and a box cutter in the other, that pallet was empty within a solid minute. By the time I took five steps, there were only two remaining with a man grasping both packages. Our eyes met and he handed me a package. “Thank you,” I said.
These days are different. No one had a clue even a month ago that all of these changes would happen. And it isn’t all temporary. When it’s finally gone, we’ll be able to see the inside of businesses that aren’t stores again, like banks, schools, our offices—old or new. But these next few months will have a tremendous bearing on the rest of our lives. Even churches and television continue fighting for survival. Saturday Night Live aired a show worth remembering on April 11, with the host none other than Tom Hanks, America’s first movie celeb infected with COVID-19. Tom and his wife have healed, as he offers humor and hope for our future.
With as much being said of how quickly our lives can change, how are we prepared for the following months? How have our priorities changed? Are our relationships with friends, romance, and families changing?
Remember this, in order to have ANYTHING improve, it must first change.
How have your days changed? What permanent changes can you see in your own life and beliefs as a result? Share. You are not alone.
Well wishes to your family and friends. My 13-year-old remains by my side, making lunch while I work tirelessly at the dining table. My 18-year-old, fearlessly (or stupidly) insists on continuing his visits to friends in another city. After warning him, I’ve had to ban him for the sake of my daughter’s and my health.
Please share. We truly are in this together—even separately.