Alex Hinely Oral History, 2020/07/11


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Alex Hinely Oral History, 2020/07/11

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Alex Hinely was born and raised in Northern California. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in sociology. Following graduation, Alex lived in various parts of the United States, including Florida and Rhode Island, before returning to his hometown of Colusa in Northern California. He now works as an information manager for a Princeton Joint Unified School District. In the fall of 2019, he began his studies at Arizona State University (ASU), where he is currently working on a Master of Arts in history. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he split his hours working from home and campus and began an internship with “A Journal of the Plague Year” COVID-19 archive initiated by ASU. Alex shares a unique perspective as a school district employee, a student, and a curatorial intern. In this interview, he tackles the challenges of living in rural Northern California, where many seem to be disagreeing with California Governor Gavin Newsom, the challenges of social isolation, and how he believes the COVID-19 pandemic is progressing.

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Morgan Keena

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Alex Hinely

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United States of America

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Transcript of Interview with Alex Hinely by Morgan Keena

Interviewee: Alex Hinely
Interviewer: Morgan Keena
Date: 07/11/2020
Location (Interviewee): Colusa, California
Location (Interviewer): Meridian, Idaho
Transcriber: Morgan Keena

Alex Hinely was born and raised in Northern California. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in sociology. Following graduation, Alex lived in various parts of the United States, including Florida and Rhode Island, before returning to his hometown of Colusa in Northern California. He now works as an information manager for a Princeton Joint Unified School District. In the fall of 2019, he began his studies at Arizona State University (ASU), where he is currently working on a Master of Arts in history. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he split his hours working from home and campus, and began an internship with “A Journal of the Plague Year” COVID-19 archive initiated by ASU. Alex shares a unique perspective as a school district employee, a student, and a curatorial intern. In this interview, he tackles the challenges of living in rural Northern California, where many seem to be disagreeing with California Governor Gavin Newsom, the challenges of social isolation, and how he believes the COVID-19 pandemic is progressing.

MK: There we go. All right, cool. Okay. So, I'm going to start by asking you questions, is that what we decided?

AH: Okay.

MK: All right. So, Mr. Alex Hinely.

AH: (__________???)

MK: What is the date and time?

AH: It is Saturday, July 11th, 2020. And for me, locally, it's 9:57am.

MK: All right. What is your name, and what are primary things you do on a day-to-day basis?

AH: So, my name is Alex Hinely. And I am the Information Manager for Princeton Joint Unified School District. That takes up a lot of my time. But then, when I'm out of school—or the school that I work at—I go to my own school, which is online for Arizona State. And right now, I'm in two classes, so I really have no life I would say. [laughs] I'm in this one, the internship professional experience one, and then I'm also in the genealogy one right now. So right now, my life is pretty packed. Lately, I've been working four-10s just so that I can have three-day weekends to try to get this homework through. But that has been extremely exhausting lately. And then, other than that, I mean, I don't have time for much hobbies or anything at the moment, but I mean, try to watch some TV [television]. [laughs]

MK Okay, so if it was—sorry, I cut you off.

AH: [laughs] Oh, no, you’re good.

MK: [laughs] If you—like say prior to COVID, before all this hit, and you were going to school and you were working, what were your hobbies? What did you enjoy doing?

AH: [sighs] I mean, there’s like, I like watching sports, and I was gardening a little bit and stuff like that, which I've continued to do, besides sports because they're not available now. But the main thing right now is just that I'm in two classes. And usually, I'm only in one class at a time for the master's program, so it's a little more doable. So…
MK: So, for the…

AH: Really, I haven’t had hobbies since I’ve started grad school, it seems. [laughs]

MK: Okay, so for the purpose of the audio recording, what are you going to grad school for?

AH: History, MA [Master of Arts].

MK: Okay, perfect. So, next question, where do you live, and what is it like to live there?

AH: So, I live in Colusa, California. And let me start off by saying, it's not what you think of when you think California. It's extremely rural. We're a farming community out in the middle of nowhere. We're in really northern California, like, not the Bay Area, where people think is Northern California, but like north of Sacramento. And so, it's small, it's conservative, it's a little gossipy. And I think people here really value just independence and independent living and doing their own thing and living how they want to live and not really having too much government interference, which I think has been extremely difficult with COVID for this community.Just someone telling them, or the thought of them being told what to do, has been extremely hard on them. But I love it here. I grew up here, and then I—I went to college in LA [Los Angeles, California] for undergrad. And then I moved around the country. I had a girlfriend for a while, who was in the Navy, so we moved quite a bit around. But then once that ended, I was like, “I want to go back.” So, even though I don’t always agree with what everyone's sentiments are and beliefs here, it's—it's a really good place to be. I like this kind of life.

MK: Cool, cool. So, when you first learned about COVID, what were your thoughts about it, and how have your thoughts changed since then?

AH: So, I first heard about it, I’d say, right around the—maybe in December, maybe around the new year, I don't remember the dates. Back when it was really spreading through China. And I was like, “Oh, man, that's scary for them.” And I—I always would think back to like Ebola and stuff like that. And I never really thought it was going to become a problem here. I thought “Oh, we might get a few cases,” stuff like that.But I thought, “It's not gonna become a problem here.” Once the outbreak in New York started happening, I got a little more concerned because I was like, “It's here domestically now, and what are we going to do to stop this?” And so, I feel like for those first few months, especially right when school shut down like mid-March, right around Saint Patrick's Day, I was extremely concerned. I was like “I don't want to leave the house, I don't want to, like, unnecessarily do anything that would expose me to this,” even though there was like--there weren’t even very many local cases at the time. I don't think there were any of my county for like, a month and a half longer, probably. But I was pretty concerned, and I wasn't wearing masks or anything at that time. I don't even think that they really recommended it yet because they were still experiencing the shortage of medical masks. And I don't know what their reasoning was of why they didn't want to announce like to start wearing fabric masks or anything like that but hadn't started doing that. But I feel like as it’s progressed, even though it's gotten worse now, and there's like more deaths, and it's more widespread, I feel like I'm almost less scared of it now. And I don't know if that's me just becoming complacent to it, and like the news is just becoming boring and old and I'm just tired of it, which I know is bad. But, I'm just—I'm like so over it. [laughs]

MK: Okay. All right. So, it's kind of like lost its like novelty, maybe?

AH: Yeah, it's—

MK: Yeah.

AH: It's just become like an everyday news event that it's just like—

MK: Right.

AH: “How many more people died today? Oh, whatever.”

MK: I know.

AH: Yeah, because the same died yesterday. And now, it’s like—

MK: Okay.
AH: And so, it's like, I know it's wrong.

MK: [laughs]

AH: But it's like, “What am I gonna do?” [laughs]

MK: [laughs] Okay, all right.

AH: I'm at the point now where I'm like, “Just let it spread and then survival of the fittest at this point.” [laughs]

MK: [laughs] Okay.

AH: Which is horrible. [laughs]

MK: All right, all right. So, what issues have most concerned you about the COVID-19 pandemic?

AH: I think there's been kind of three areas for me, and one would be physical health I think is just, you know, it's a pandemic, it's dangerous, people are dying. Even if you're not dying, it sounds like the illness is terrible, and it's not a fun experience. So I'd say that's worrisome, not only for myself, but for my friends and my family, and especially since I still have two grandparents alive that are pretty elderly. So I’m like, “Ugh, I hope they're not going out and about doing things.” The second would definitely be mental health, I think is a big one that people are now starting to realize how important that is, I think. For me, it was nice because I was still allowed to go back to work during it. I wasn't being forced right away,but it was like, I had the option to leave the house and go somewhere, which was so helpful. Because on the days that I would be home for like four or five days in a row, I would be dying to just leave the house, like it was becoming painful. And so, I couldn't imagine someone that didn't have the option to go anywhere besides like the store or something like that, the toll that that would take on their mental health, especially if they're laid off on top of it. Which goes into my third real issue is kind of the employment side of things and the economy, and just how long is this gonna last? How deeply is this gonna cut into our economy and be long-lasting and really reset us back to—where it feels like we had finally started to climb out of that 2008 hole, and now we're just thrown even worse back into it. And so, it’s just kind of like, as someone who like has graduated multiple times within these, like periods of recessions and stuff, it's just really discouraging to like be like, “Well, if I get a minimum wage job, I'll be happy right now.” [laughs]

MK: Oh.

AH: And so, it's just like, it has to be discouraging. Even for like, the high school kids I worked with, I was just like, “You don't even know if you're actually gonna be going to college in the fall.” What's that gonna look like? You don't know what, like, your initial job prospects are gonna look like. And you're entering a market where there's tons of people battling for these few jobs. So, it's just, those are probably my three concerns.

MK: Right. It's—you—you have an interesting experience saying that you've graduated during multiple like economic recessions. That's not something that a lot of people can say maybe, or maybe they can, I don't know. But that's an interesting perspective,for sure.

AH: [laughs] It’s not a good perspective.

MK: [laughs]

AH: It’s not something I’d wish. [laughs]

MK: [laughs] So let's—let's lead into employment then, because you kind of—we finished up on that. So, how has COVID-19 affected your job? Like what specifically has changed? What has stayed the same?

AH: It's changed pretty drastically. Unsurprisingly, as someone who worked or works in a school. It—by the time we hopefully get kids back next month, it's been six months since I've seen these kids. And so, for me, it's really weird because I've—throughout this process, I've been working with their data, I see their school pictures every day, I see their information every day. And it's almost like I'm working with kids that aren't even real because I'm like, I see all their stuff all the time, I deal with their grades, I deal with all this, but I never see the kids themselves. And so, it's just—it's really weird. And it's been extremely boring. I cannot like reiterate that enough. [sighs]

MK: Okay.

AH: I love the job, but when there's no kids, and there's only a staff of five people, it's—it gets real boring real fast.

MK: Yeah.

AH: And—and not to mention, like, I always have work to do. There's always things to do, new projects, things I can do that maybe aren't pressing. But when I don't have attendance to take, and I don't have like, new issues or new discipline or, you know, kids transferring in and out of the school, it really takes away from my workload and the like—the entertainment factor, [laughs] I guess. So, yeah. And—and I've also taken on a few different jobs throughout the— like how to honor these seniors during this COVID thing. Because they left at a time when their class fund had tons of extra money that they never spent on a class trip and they never, you know, spent on their t-shirts and all this stuff. So, we kind of like, “Okay, how are we gonna spend their money for them to honor them, to celebrate their accomplishments, and try to make the most out of this really weird situation?” And then also, I was kind of tasked with constructing the distance learning packets, because as much as we wanted to just be digital and go online and all that and—and be just like seamless and everything, there just—there were kids that didn't have access. Even if we let them borrow Chromebooks, they didn't always have Wi-Fi, stuff like that. And while the state kept saying, “Make sure all your kids have this and all this,” they just—we never got the resources to actually make that available. And so, we had to stick with a mixture of the both. But to make sure every kid got an equal opportunity, we needed to create physical packets that they could come pick up, which was useful for the elementary kids because a lot of their stuff is more hands-on, and the kids maybe aren't necessarily as prone to using Chromebooks and stuff. The high school kids, it was a little easier with, but…

MK: Okay. Has COVID-19 changed your employment status in any way?

AH: Thankfully, it has not.

MK: Okay.

AH: I was worried at the start, but our administration pretty much let us know right away that no one was going to be getting laid off, that we were gonna be continuing to get our pay, despite whatever amount of hours we worked. Which is really nice. I—I mean, the worry is not gone yet, though. I definitely like continue, as the economy continues to sink a little further and new budgets come out and they're more smaller and smaller, I continue to worry. But we're such like a small bare bones school already, it's extremely hard to cut, and so it'll be difficult.

MK: Okay. So, what concerns do you have about the effects of COVID-19 On your employment? I feel like you've kind of alluded to this,but like more broadly speaking, I guess, do you see any changes?

AH: In the immediate future, I don't anticipate any changes. I don't, as far as I've heard and known, I don't know of any layoffs or anything like that within our district. I have heard of some bigger ones at some bigger districts that can maybe have more wiggle room to—with staff.But since we're already so like close on staff, it's pretty hard. I think they've indicated more that they will be possibly cutting some programs or cutting back on some spending, in terms of like teacher budgets, in terms of technology budgets, things like that before they cut any staff.

MK: Okay. Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the employment of people you know? And if so, in what ways?

AH: I've heard of like friends of friends being laid off from their work and things like that. And it's not just like what you would think of, like retail work or like people working in malls or things like that, like I've heard of, like, attorneys at firms being laid off. I've heard of a lot of government officials being laid off, things like that. I know that a few of the teachers at my districts have been complaining or—a little bit about not having sports seasons and not having all the extracurriculars because it takes away from their stipends for those. And so, like, anything from like, after school detention to like tutoring to all that stuff, all being canceled really cut their salaries down to like, their actual salaries only and they didn't get any added benefits, kind of—maybe that they were expecting throughout the year. So that was a little tough on some of them. And then my father—my—so my father is an attorney. And so, his business is still afloat and good, but definitely with the courts closing, it has slowed the process down quite a bit, of new cases coming in. And so, it's just—it seems like everything's moving in slow motion, as like the court cases just get backed up and backed up. And then—and he's expressed concern that it's gonna take a long time to get things back on track.

MK: So, they didn't move to like using a virtual system at all?

AH: They did. Andthen there's—there's also like jury trials and things like that, where there's like concerns of like the jury not feeling safe andhe jury’s not wanting to come in, and then trying to push—push back the cases that maybe aren't like so severe or immediately threatening to someone's life.

MK: Okay. Okay. So, speaking of your father, let's maybe move on to the family and household, and we can kind of work into that a little bit. So, you mentioned that your dad's cut—his attorney business has kind of slowed down a little bit. How has COVID-19 affected your day-to-day activities, your family's day-to-day activities?

AH: I’d definitely say we're more cautious about leaving the house now. Before, we would just go and run errands and do things just as we needed to do. But now, I feel like my family is definitely more cautious about how many times they're going out, what time of day they go out, maybe trying to go during a time where there's not as much of a crowd, things like that. Trying to make bigger runs to the store maybe to get things, so we don't have to go as often. Other than that, not too bad. We're kind of homebodies by nature, so it hasn't been like too restrictive on us.

MK: Okay. So, how are you managing day-to-day activities in your house?

AH: Pretty normally.Being in a rural town, we online shop a lot from Amazon Prime just because it's easy and convenient and beats driving an hour to like the nearest store that will offer that product. So, we've kind of kept up on that. But when the pandemic first started, Amazon's shipping like slowed so far down, that it was taking like a month to get things, so we started like, going to other random retailers like Staples and like Walmart and things like that, like online still, to try to avoid going to the stores but to get those products to us faster. But even then, like with the toilet paper like sell out, like at the start, it's like, I was like, “Okay, this toilet paper is backordered but I'm still gonna order it now, because I have a feeling this pandemic ain't gonna be done in like two months or whatever,” and so we're still getting toilet paper delivered that I like ordered in March. [laughs]

MK: That's awesome. Okay, cool. Has the COVID-19 outbreak affected how you associate and communicate with your friends and family, and in what ways?

AH: Not a whole lot socially, because like, I live up here and like a lot of my undergraduate friends and stuff still live in Southern California. So, like I'm used to texting or calling or FaceTiming friends, but I definitely say like coworkers and stuff, and the people that I see on a daily basis, we’re definitely more physically distant. I feel like everyone's a lot more well aware of like, don't get too close to someone else, don't like shake their hand, don't hug them, don't like… I don't know, I feel like it's almost become ingrained in us. And I was thinking, I was like, “How long is this—is this gonna permanently affect how we like, interact with one another?” Like, I'm just thinking, “Am I always going to be like, fearful to get closer than six feet to someone now?” [laughs] But, yeah.

MK: Okay. What have been the biggest challenges that you have faced during the COVID-19 outbreak?

AH: I said it earlier, and I'll say it again: boredom. It's just—it's been killing me. Just not being able to—to go do anything or like to have the full staff at work or all the kids at work or to have family gatherings or like just any break in the kind of the monotony of just going to work, going home, going to work, going home, like avoid everyone. Like, it's just—then even now, it's to the point where it's like—so like sports were canceled, so like there goes a lot of shows and then like, even now, it's finally hitting where like the shows that stopped recording when it like broke out aren’t on the air. So it's just—even like there's no entertainment and it's just incredibly boring, but I'm really looking forward to sports coming back next month, even though I don't know if it's actually gonna happen and I think that's a dream but like… I'm like— I'm not even into like basketball or anything that much but I was like, “I would love to watch a basketball game or anything right now, just give me some entertainment.” But…

MK: Gotcha. Okay. So, you've talked about boredom quite a bit.

AH: [laughs]

MK: So, maybe you've gotten creative at home? I don't know. But what have you and your family or friends done for recreation during COVID?

AH: At the start, I loaded up on puzzles. That was kind of my—my first few months trend was puzzles, because it was kind of like a good study break, a good just like thing, especially since I wasn't working eight-hour days at the time, so I was kind of like, “I have a lot of time on my hands,” and I didn't know what to do. So, I got through about six or seven of those, which was—I was pretty impressed with myself. [laughs] But then those also got a little boring. [laughs] That's the key word of this interview.

MK: [laughs]

AH: So, let's see. So, I have been gardening. That's not really out of the ordinary. I know some people have like started building those victory gardens and things like that, but I kind of do it every year, but that's kind of kept me busy. Been trying to clean with all the time on my hands. But then we're running into the problem where it's like we're cleaning and we're getting rid of things, but then there's nowhere to donate this stuff because—so like our garage is just stuffed full of things that we don't want anymore. But it's like, no one else wants them either.

MK: Right.

AH: And then, just TV shows, like documentaries, a lot of Netflix.

MK: Mm-hmm, gotcha. Alright, cool.

AH: That’s what I’ve been doing with my time.

MK: So, how has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your community?

AH: [sighs]So, like I said, it—it's made people more physically distant from each other. But I think it's also just—it's created so much frustration within the community, like on multiple levels of just like it not being resolved, of like the state and federal government coming down with these guide—well, more the state than the federal government coming down with these guidelines, and it's just like, it seems like people are frustrated with everything about it, with the disease, with the guidelines, with each other, with everything being cancelled, with just… Yeah, with the economy, with unemployment, with being stuck at home, with everyone was… It just seems like tensions are boiling over.

MK: Okay. So, I am gonna let you know we're at 24 minutes, so we might just—you've kind of alluded to some of these answers through the other ones.

AH: Okay.

MK: Do you want to just like keep going through the list, or do you want to like pick and choose a few or what do you—what are you feel like doing?

AH: We can keep going, and I'll try to—

MK: Okay.

AH: Be less long winded. [laughs]

MK: [laughs] Okay, so, how are people around you responding to the pandemic? You kind of alluded to that in the last question, but do you have like specific examples or…

AH: So, pretty much the way I view it is the public, the community that I live in, doesn't care, and is just going about their lives as normal. My family itself seems to be a little bit more concerned, but we're not gonna be the ones like going out there in like hazmat suits and like [laughs] full on like [laughs] face masks and being the weirdos either. So, like…

MK: Okay, all right.

AH: Just going with the flow.

MK: All right. So, have you seen people around you change their opinions like in day-to-day activities or their relationships in response to the pandemic?

AH: Like I said earlier, I think things are just becoming more heated. I think—I think that the political situation was already at odds before all this. And I think this is just like, pushing people even further into like, combativeness and disagreements with each other over how to resolve this issue.There's so many opinions—

MK: Right.

AH: And no consensus.

MK: Okay. So, self-ah—self-isolation and flattening the curve have been two key words or phrases that have emerged during the pandemic. How have you, your family, friends, and community responding? Or how have you responded to request to self-isolate or flatten the curve?

AH: So, like I said, we started off strong, staying at home, not going out, doing that. Slowly over time, it became tiresome to do that. And also, all of our jobs have pretty much called us back. I'm now back to working full time and pretty much was told to do that. So, as much as I would love to, it’s, you know—sometimes your livelihood depends more on not. So, it seems like, honestly, there's bigger decisions at hand than my like individual decision guiding whether or not I can flatten the curve.

MK: Okay. So, has COVID-19 changed your relationship with your family, friends, and community? And if so, how has—how have they changed?

AH: I would say they haven't changed a tremendous amount. Coming from our generation, I feel like we're already so used to texting, to calling, to not necessarily always meeting up in person. And so, I think it hasn't been that difficult. I think—I've noticed definitely for the older generations, it's been a little harder, who are used to going out to lunch, going to the donut shop to talk every morning and have coffee and all that stuff. I think it's been a lot more painful on them, and a lot more socially isolating.

MK: Okay. So, let's talk about health for a little bit. Have you or anybody you know, gotten sick during the COVID-19 outbreak? What was—what has been your response in responding to the sickness,or experience inresponding to the sickness, sorry.

AH: So, I don't know anyone personally that's been diagnosed yet. Being the small-town gossip that there is, you kind of figure out who has it, and like “Oh, your cousin's neighbors’ sister has it,” type of thing. But not anyone I know personally. But, yeah, I'm—I’m definitely becoming more paranoid like every time I hear someone sneeze or cough or—or I sneeze or cough or anything, I'm like, “Do I have it? Is this the sign that I have it?” [laughs] So, I'm definitely more paranoid about that. [laughs]

MK: Okay. So, in what ways do you think COVID-19 is affecting people's mental and/or physical health? I know you talked about mental health a little bit earlier. And you had mentioned like not being able to go anywhere was probably impacting it more than anything. Do you have anything else you want to add on that or any other thoughts?

AH: I'd say physical weight gain has been difficult being at home and just having all my stock of snacks and supplies and… [laughs] What are supposed to last for a month lasts for a week and a half, and… [laughs] So, I would say weight gain hasn't been a fun side effect of quarantine. [laughs]

MK: Okay. All right. So, information. That's kind of your area of expertise, right? You deal with a lot of information.

AH: Mm-hmm.

MK: But in terms of pandemic, what's been your primary source of the news?

AH: I would say television, just because it's the easiest, the most encompassing, and yeah… A few articles here and there, but mostly TV.

MK: Okay. Any like channel in particular, any news source, or you just watch them all and take in what you can?

AH: Towards the beginning of the pandemic, I started with like the CNN, the national news type of thing. Eventually, it just got so repetitive and so just boring that I started turning more towards the local stations, especially as like, the pandemic actually came to my local area. It became less interesting. Like, “I don't care what New York City is going through now. I care what, like my county is going through right now.” So, I would definitely say I transitioned from like the national news when it wasn't so local to the local news later.

MK: Okay. What do you think are important issues that the media may or may not be covering?

AH: I think they're covering the severity. But the problem is is that it’s just been going on for so long now that it's really lost its effectiveness. And so, I think—I don't know, I mean, is media ever trustworthy? But I'd like to think that they're covering it to the best of their abilities, and I'm sure they're dramatizing some events and making it sound more dramatic, but it is a serious event and stuff, but the problem is just after five months of reporting on it, it's not very effective anymore.

MK: Okay. So, we're at the 30-minute mark, what do you think? Keep going?Call it?

AH: Hmm, they said up to 40 minutes, so…

MK: Keep going? Let's go. Let's do it. All right. So, how about government? How have municipal leaders and government officials in your community responded to the outbreak?

AH: Local officials have responded with a lot of backlash towards the governor. We currently have a democratic governor in California. So, pretty much it feels like anything he would have done, the local officials would have gone against what he—what he said. They've written letters to the state saying, “We're not gonna follow these guidelines, we're not going to enforce these guidelines,” stuff like that. So…

MK: All right, cool. Do you have any thoughts on how local, state, or federal leaders are responding to the crisis differently? I know you just kind of mentioned that.

AH: I feel like—so, I'll start with federal, I feel like on the federal level I've been kinda disappointed. I feel like politics have continued to get in the way of like actual resolve to any of these things from both sides. I feel like it's just like, it's just politics as usual on both sides and it's kind of like, “Come on guys, let's like actually try to solve this issue here, not continue to just battle each other and try to get reelected,” is how I feel. As for the state, I feel like Governor Newsom started out really strong, enforcing these things. California stayed like—was flattening the curve for a while. When we—when everyone expected California to be like New York, and because of our high population, we really weren't. But I feel like as pressure mounted against him to reopen, he kind of gave in. And that to me, was kind of like disappointing, because I'm like, “What was all that work at the beginning now? Because it's just horrible now.”So… And then local, like I said, they just seem to be disagreeing with anything that comes out of [laughs] the state.

MK: Gotcha. Okay, so let's talk about like moving forward, after—well, from this point forward with the pandemic in the year. How has your experience transformed how you think about your family, friends, and community? And in what ways has that changed?

AH: I think I've started to really question [sighs] like, not necessarily my family, but the community at large where they get this information. Because like, sometimes we have like, there's like, you know, community group pages and things like that and some of the comments that these people make are just like, “Where are you hearing this information, andhat are your sources?” Because sometimes there's like, people, “I'm not wearing a mask.” Like, “The masks do nothing. There's scientific evidence that the mask does absolutely nothing to help prevent the spread and stuff.” And I'm just like, “Oh, man, I wish you guys would read some more educated sources here.” [laughs]

MK: Okay, all right. So, how does this pandemic compare to other big events that have happened in your lifetime?

AH: Well, being relatively young, I think at the start, I compared it, you know, to 9/11 and I was like, “Okay, when is the number of dead gonna surpass 9/11?” And I thought, “When that happens, that's a big deal.” But then it happened, and it's really surpassed 9/11 numbers now. And it just—there's no end in sight. But I would say in terms of this pandemic, it's nothing like I've experienced before. The schools haven't closed down, we haven't been ordered to stay at home. It's—it's a really new experience, I think, for a lot of people.

MK: Okay. So, what can you imagine your life being like in a year?

AH: [sighs] I—to be honest, I think it's gonna be very much the same as what it is now, if not worse. I think at the rate we're going, people aren't taking it seriously enough. I think we're not doing enough to prevent the spread. I think it's gone further than it should be going. And I don't see any end in sight. I think especially if schools are reopening, I think that that's gonna cause some spikes in cases, and it just seems like politics are going to continue, especially with the November election. It’s gonna be a ton of new people coming in, starting the whole like decision process all over again. So yeah, a pretty pessimistic outlook, but I—I don’t see things changing anytime soon.

MK: Okay. What do you hope life is like in a year?

AH: I hope life is like how it was at this point last year in 2019. I would—I would love to see life back to normal, to see, you know, no social distancing, to see schools back in session, to see everything reopen, the economy flourishing, all that. But I—I just don't see that happening.

MK: Okay. Knowing what you know now, what do you think individuals, communities, or governments need to keep in mind for the future?

AH: I think we definitely need to keep more stockpile on hand. That was a huge issue at the start, was the lack of masks and medical equipment. And I think that should have been there to start with, not only for pandemics but you never—what if we're attacked? What if anything like that? I think it really showed a weakness in the country that we didn't have those supplies on hand and ready. And I think this is gonna teach a lot of businesses how to instantly go to digital or work from home. And schools too. I think teachers are gonna be well—better prepared in the future to, within two or three days, instantly transition their curriculum online and hopefully have their students prepared and ready to go. But [sighs] hopefully we don't deal with another pandemic in our lives. But [laughs] I guess you have to be ready for it.

MK: Right. Okay. All right. I—that's your last question. So, you made it, you did it. I'm going to stop this recording real quick.

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