Lee Foster Oral History 2020/08/04


Title (Dublin Core)

Lee Foster Oral History 2020/08/04

Description (Dublin Core)

Oral History in which Lee Foster discusses how one teaches shop (Industrial Arts) through online learning, what it is like teaching your students at the same time as your own children, and having a spouse working in a hospital during the pandemic. He also discusses the changes, or lack thereof, in family dynamics during a pandemic all with his easy-going positivity and sense of gratitude for his situation.

Recording Date (Dublin Core)

Creator (Dublin Core)

Contributor (Dublin Core)

Partner (Dublin Core)

Type (Dublin Core)

Oral History

Controlled Vocabulary (Dublin Core)

Curator's Tags (Omeka Classic)

Contributor's Tags (a true folksonomy) (Friend of a Friend)

Collection (Dublin Core)

Date Submitted (Dublin Core)


Date Modified (Dublin Core)


Interviewer (Bibliographic Ontology)

Hope Gresser

Interviewer Email (Friend of a Friend)

Interviewee (Bibliographic Ontology)

Lee Foster

Location (Omeka Classic)


Format (Dublin Core)


Language (Dublin Core)


Duration (Omeka Classic)


Transcription (Omeka Classic)

Lee Foster Interview Transcription
Interviewer: Ok, so, my name is Hope Gresser. I am a Master’s student in the program of Public History at the University of Western Ontario. Today’s date is August the 4th and if you could- Oh! And I am in Ottawa, Ontario. And if you could say who you are and where you are
Lee: I am Lee Foster and I am in Winnipeg, Manitoba
I: Great, um, so did you just want to give a quick introduction as to who you are.
L: Uh, I mean, I’m a 34-year-old male, uh, live in Winnipeg. I’m a schoolteacher, my wife’s a nurse. I have, uh, two boys I have a, uh, a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old. And uh, yeah, here I am: Winnipeg.
I: And our relationship, because I have to start that, is that we are cousins.
L: We are cousins, yes.
I: So, you have known me for 23 years and I know this because my mom recently said that apparently you met me when I was a week old so- [laughs]
L: It’s accurate [laughs]
I: We have known each other for 23. Alright!
L: [laughs]
I: Um, so, first, to start us off we try to go as chronological as possible but if at any point you’re like, “Oh! This thing!” jump right in. Um, so what do you recall about the start of all of this? Do you remember when you first heard about the virus and what did you think about it immediately?
L: Well, I remember hearing in… January of this year, or maybe December of last year. It was, you know, you hear it on the news. It was something that China was going through. It was just something you heard about, right? Um, and then I re- My- so my birthday is March the 5th and I remember being out, uh, uh, celebrating with my friends and then we were talking about that. I mean, it was on our minds on March the 5th and, uh, we were talking about, you know, uh, what- what- what things might look like, how it’s going to impact us, Uh, there wasn’t- I wouldn’t really say it was really scary but, you know, everyone was really aware of it. And then, I guess the 13th of March, uh, is when, uh schools and things shut down! [laughs] So it was- it was almost the week later it was quite a- quite a jump from, you know, ‘you’re out at a pub with your friends’ to “Oh my- oh my goodness [laughs] we’re-we’re shutting down!” [laughs]
I: Right, um, so then when they shut down- ‘cuz Alex was in school right?
L: Yeah
I: Did they shut down the same time you did or… Like, are you in the same board or…?
L: Yeah, we’re in the same-
I: [unintelligible]
L: We’re in the same- we call them school divisions. So, we’re in the same division. Uh, there was, uh, there- it was the week before our spring break and um, so there was as uh, I- I- guess I mean- I was working in the schools and I noticed that parents were not sending their students.
I: Mmm
L: Like, my classes were just kind of dwindling to… to almost nothing. There was one day that I had one student. Like it was just the- the class sizes- people just kept their kids home. And so, that was kind of the… that- a notice was sent home to all the parents, uh, and it was, you know “we understand if you want to st- keep your child home but we’re still open until we’re formally shut down.” And so, I think o the Monday or the Tuesday, we decided that it was best that we keep Alex home from school, and um, I still kept in contact with his teacher and she said, “yeah, there was, you know, at most three kids in the class.” Ever-everyone stayed home.
I: Hmm
L: So, there wasn’t a whole lot of learning happening anyways, um, and so we were- we were ok with keeping him home as just a safety thing. I was still going to work and, uh, my classes had, you know, as I say, you know, there was just one or two kids. You know, just, what do you do with that, right?
I: Um, so then, you are a shop teacher.
L: [laughs] Yes, yes
I: So how does one teach shop…
L: [laughs] oh uh
I: Distanced learning?
L: Distanced learning? Well I have to say, um, so my division, they focused heavily on the safety of everybody, and I really do appreciate that. I mean, um, students: their health was important. Um, all the staff: their health was important. And so, we didn’t rush into anything. I know other divisions in our city, they might have- they might have been a little more lax but our- our division was really quite strict. So, what I ended up doing, I, uh I- I basically hunkered in basement of my house and I designed, uh, a variety of, kind of, hands on activities that you could do at home. So, it could be as simple as going outside and measuring, uh, the board footage that you were to find if you were to cut down a tree in your backyard. So, you measure the tree; how much lumber can you this tree? Uh, there was one example where we made um- I had a little- an activity where students would make a little, uh, car that was powered by a balloon out of, you know, recycled materials. Um, photography that you could do with your cell phone. Um, I mean- Making water filters out of pop bottles and sand and just, you know, things that you could collect around the house. So, on one hand it was, uh, you know, you wanted to do something that was hands on and engaging um, and also met curricular, you know, met objectives but you couldn’t use tools. [laughs] You couldn’t use- uh, you couldn’t- you couldn’t assume that everybody had-
I: Mhm
L: A piece of wood at home or something like that. Like, you just can’t do that. So, I assumed that people had water bottles and balloons and things like that, and-and, sure enough, most people did. Uh, and then I got the odd “Oh, I don’t have any balloons at home! What do I do?” right? [laughs] So, so then you adapt. Um, but I think, the message that I got from the division, uh, was that the priority was numeracy and literacy, right? That was what- that’s what the kids needed to know but, um, the division also recognized that, uh, not all, uh- there are a lot of students that are hands-on learners. And so, we tried to focus on adding some literacy and adding some numeracy into hands-on activities.
I: Mhm.
L: And the feedback we got from parents, uh, you know was a lot of, you know, “this is a great alternative to the pen-and-paper stuff we’ve been doing with our kids.” Uh, you know, “It’s a great break from, you know, these- these like math equations, or whatever.” Uh, so it was pretty well received, which was neat. But you know, being a shop teacher, working with my hands, personally, uh working with students- like, I like- I like building and doing things with other people. And so I guess I found that a little bit difficult in that my job of- of teaching students, [laughs] you know, with actual tools and doing hands-on activities was now me typing on a computer, right?
I: Mhm.
L: You know and so, you know that- You know, I was- I went through university; I- I’ve typed out- like, I’ve done this, right? But it’s just not my favourite things to do. Uh, so, you know, that was a bit of an adjustment, um, but, uh, you know, we do it, right? We survive it.
I: Yeah, so what are you- like, how did the kids react to it. ‘Cuz you said, like the parents- and it was relatively positive, but did you get any reactions out of the kids and what were they? And what has been the reactions of other staff and how have they been handling it. And is it different to you or the same to you being specialized?
L: Yeah, I would say… So, the students, uh, either they enjoyed it and they told me about that, or they just didn’t do it. Uh, the priority was, uh, numeracy and literacy and there was a- I don’t know if it was an underlying message or what it was, but there was a message that that’s what you’re going to be- that’s the focus. So, I know the other specialists, you know, Phys-Ed and Music, they were having troubles engaging students too. So the student that I, um, that I- that I did, you know, remain in contact with or that were, for the most part, happy to receive my stuff, they were- they were shops kids, they- [laughs] they just want to be building stuff. They want to do stuff with their hands. Um, and then other students they just kind of- other than the odd personal email being like “Hey Mr. Foster, how are you?” Like, you know, uh, that personal touch? Otherwise they just didn’t do it and that’s- that was ok too. That was part the message too, was focus on numeracy and literacy and let’s see what we can get from them and grade them as I can. Um, my colleagues, the- the homeroom teachers- it’s funny because, like, I mean, here I am as a- as a- as a teacher but I’m also seeing it from a parent.
I: Yes
L: And so, you know, on the teaching side of things, um, you know, we- we certainly wanted to provide them with meaningful work, you know, the students need to do meaningful and engaging work. Um, there were some parents that said, “keep sending it; we want more, we want more” and there were some parents that were overwhelmed by that. And I can understand that. I have one case where there was a family of uh, mum and dad with four kids. Dad was working from home, uh, mum was laid off, and there was one computer in the house and dad needed it to work remotely. And so, that was- there was some difficulties in the just the logistics of “ok it’s great to work from home” but do we need internet? Do we need- How do we get them pen-and-paper packages if- if we’re doing things like that? How do we do that safely, uh, remaining in contact? So, what was found was that a lot of teachers were working beyond that- you know, they’re working in the evenings, because, in this case, you know dad had the computer during the day. So, um, all the teachers that I talked to, uh, I would say- well, they all worked harder than- I don’t want to say harder, they all worked longer days, um, uh, than if they were in the classroom. The other big part of it too is that if you, um, you know- so when I- when I plan a lesson, my lesson plan often just has talking points and -and if someone else looks at it, um., you know, they could understand it but- but, I have my way of doing things, right? So, I have my talking points but then when a teacher is to send something home, you don’t have those talking points. So, um, you know, you’re literally typing out what you would say? And so, because of that, a lot of these- these- these packages that were going home were long winded, if that makes sense.
I: Mhm.
L: And so that was also kind of stressful for- for people that, whether its parents or students, that- uh, that see this big thick package when really, that would have been a half an hour of actual me teaching you that but I have to type it all out and here’s this giant package, right? So that- that can also be overwhelming too. So, I mean, you know, students, parents, and staff, uh, teaching staff, all did the best they can. Um, we have wonderful, um, educational assistants (EAs) and, uh, I mean, a lot of it is students with additional needs and um, students that normally have help from an EA, you know, not having that help, right? Or a lot of 1-on-1 time from a- with a teacher and student, no longer having that. But then there was cases where- I have students- I have a student who, um, uh, uh, is a selective mute and chooses not to talk to adults and um, but on this online presence, I mean, we’re chatting back and forth and uh, uh, you know, she was talking to me with my camera off; she didn’t want to see my face, but her camera was on and we were talking back and forth. And so, I mean, it was the first I’ve heard her voice! It was incredible! [laughs] It was really pretty cool! So, so, I mean, t-the- I could see maybe using some of the elements of technology, uh, going down the line, using it, um, in the- in the, you know, in the classroom once things open up again.
I: Cool!
L: Yeah, it was neat.
I: Um you mentioned that you’re also a parent doing this so how- how is that having a very small child who’s in kindergarten-
L: [laughs]
I: and uh, doing that kind of at home education now?
L: Yeah, well, I think, you know, um, this being his first year in school, I think next year is going to be the real shocker! [laughs] Where- where now he’ll – ‘Cuz he was in half-time, uh, uh, half-time kindergarten.
I: OK.
L: So, he’ll be going full time for grade 1 and it doesn’t end in March, right?! [Laughs] So! So, I think that’s going to be a bit of a shocker! [laughs] But, I mean, I think September is going to be a shock for everybody, uh, when we- when we go back to work and school. Uh, so, it is what it is that way. Um- the- um, you know, it was this- Now, luckily, my wife’s a nurse, right? So, she works shiftwork. So, the days that she was, uh, off during the day she would take, you know, primary teaching role of my, uh, my son and then, uh, I would- I did- I did, you know, any of these activities or things that would then carry on. I would work with him, uh, after- after I was done working online with my students. So, I think, um, you know, having her home doing most of the- the schoolwork was a great thing. Um, I think if I was a teacher working from home and I had a student, like my son was a student, it would be really quite difficult because I wouldn’t be able to give him, um, the attention he would need until, you know, 3:30 or whenever I was done with my students. But then again, because, you know, I was- I was having meetings with my students at different times of the day, uh, you know, maybe at 10 o’clock I- I was free so I would do a quick meeting with- I would do a quick activity with my son but then at 5:30 I would do- uh, I would be online with my students. So, it’s this back and forth, um, you know. But, you know, everyone- everyone adjusted their schedule, so it all worked out that way. I think, uh, if- if you had a par- if I were a parent working from home, and then Tanya was working shiftwork away from the home, uh- If both of us were working from home or I were a single parent, working from home and homeschooling would have been- wouldn’t have worked. Uh, it was, you know, the timing and… you just can’t do it right, in my mind at least.
I: Right. Um, so you mentioned going back, what are the plans there?
L: [laughs] Well, um, so our division has come up with three levels of-
I: Mhm
L: Of- of… I don’t know, of danger [laughs] or whatever, three- three levels and then our province has given us the ok to go with level 1. So, um, level 1 is basically as near to a regular September as you could get. There might be more hand washing, the desks might be a little bit, uh, spread apart um, but, it’s pretty well status quo, uh, with the odd, you know, staggered in the hallways, maybe, situation where there’s just less people. You adjust the schedule so there’s less people. Level 2 would be, um, what they called “cohorting” which is basically many small groups of students. Uh, so then, um, you know, there would be a class of, let’s say 10 or 15 (I don’t know big a cohort would be) but then they would all be together. So, you’d have, um, you know, they would, uh, they would have a different lunch time, they would have a different recess time., so instead of mixing large groups of students, you’d have these small cohorts kind of stuck together. And then level 3 would be the, uh, you know, the remote learning, which was the online, you know, using technology to do things online. I think our high schools are going- they have some- some kind of homeschooling option but I don’t know too much about what- what they’re doing exactly. So, yeah, we’re going ahead- as far as I know, uh, as of today, we’re going ahead, uh, with level 1 opening of schools as of September.
I: Um, so you, um- A little birdy told me you were making face shields.
L: [laughs]
I: So, do you want to talk a little bit about that?
L: Sure. So, um, the Industrial Arts Department and, I guess, some of our suppliers- We have 3D printers, so I guess the Industrial Arts Department and, you know, our Division was on board. They supported us, and the suppliers supported us with some, um, uh, materials to take 3D printers home. So, I, uh, I set up, uh, a 3D printer in my basement, in my little workshop here and, um, and 3D printed these uh, these face shields. Um, that was basically- It went around the back of the head and in the front, uh, and then there would be a clear piece of plastic that would be put on later, so it was just the mount. It went around the back of the head, over the ears and then, you know, the- the clear plastic would go around the front. Uh, and so that was a bit of an organized thing through the division. And then also made, um, uh, we nicknamed them “ear-savers,” I’m not sure if there is a formal name but uh, [laughs] these little hooks that go on the back of your, um, uh- They hold- Instead of the- the masks holding around the ears, they clip in the back so it just pro- you know, keeps you ears from getting pulled all day. So, we made a ton of those and um, shipped those off too.
I: Where did they go to? Where did they get shipped off to? Do you know?
L: The- the face shields, uh, I don’t know. The division collected them and then, it was part of the sponsorship with the supplier. I don’t- I don’t- don’t know the exact pert- you know, place that got them but um, the “ear-savers” I sent with my wife, uh, uh, to Health Science Centre in Winnipeg. And then so she just basically, you know, um- We bagged them up so they were kind of, you know, known to be clean and then she put a little sign on the- on the staffroom table that said, “take one” and- and you know, sure enough, uh, by the time she went for lunch it would- they would be all gone. So that was good. And I know some- some other people donated them to, um, nursing homes and some other teachers just gave them to, uh, just cl- you know just like pers- just like small clinics like family doctors’ offices and things. Um, there was, um, one, uh, one fellow that donated a few to, uh, 7-Eleven. There was clerk that he was just kind of just chums with that, um, was having difficulties with the face- with the masks and it fitting around his turban.
I: Hmm.
L: So, it worked out to have, uh, these clips that kind of, you know, kind of kept them out of his uh… gave him some relief there. So, that, the ear-savers were kind of you know, you- you’re on your own, basically, for that but the face shields were more organized. Uh, they went to some location and were divvied out, or whatever I don’t know.
I: So how is Tanya?
L: [Laughs] Yeah
I: How is working in health care… right now?
L: [Laughs] What does that look like? Well, you know what, she said, um, you know, all the protocols in place and things like that, um, she said she’s more likely to, uh, get covid going grocery shopping than she would be at- at the hospital. So, at the beginning, it was a little scary. Um, everyone, I mean everyone was on edge. Just, it was a new thing. It was scary. No one knew what to do. Supplies were kind of short; there were rumours that supplies were going to be shorted. Um, you know, it was um, you know, being strategic with producing waste, so, uh, you know, gloves and masks and things like that they were at- they were a hot commodity so, you know. You know, you just have to be smart about how you use them and- and try to reduce waste. And um, so now it’s- it’s basically the new normal, right? Um, all of- as far as- all patients are assumed to have covid, even if they don’t. If they go in for a sprained toe, they’re assumed to have covid. So, it- its just, um, you know, in the hospital, um, there’s no guests allowed; it’s just the patients. Uh, originally, all of the hospital- all the different wards shut down except for, um- they were only open to- for in-patients, but for out-patients we had cancer care and dialysis. And so, she’s a dialysis nurse so she was seeing patients, you know, from all walks of life and- and- coming and going, right? So that was a bit, uh- that had some elements of stress to it where, as the other departments, they, you know, you- if you were an in-patient you were there and you lived there, right?
I: Hmm
L: So- and you didn’t have that other- and there was no guests so you- uh, you know, there wasn’t that kind of heightened fear of having people coming and going, but, um, yeah, now it’s just the new normal and um, you know, you just… [laughs] you just… There’s just a self screening thing that she does before she goes to work, um, you know, if… you just… this is the new normal. She’s full blown, uh, face shield; mask; hair, you know she has a like beanie that goes over her hat- over her hair; uh, you know the gowns, and the whole bit. So, it’s you know- You’re almost donning a space suit to go to work. [laughs]
I: Um, so when she comes- does she take it all off at the hospital or does she take it off when she gets home?
L: Uh, so yeah, she has caps and stuff that she wears, she has her scrubs that she wears. The face shields and masks, they stay at work. Uh, and then she has like, in her car she has this, like, little box, you know, of like her shoes and some other things that she would just prefer to not bring into the house. [laughs] So she has a little bin in her box [car?] that she keeps in her, you know, her own little mini quarantine.
I: Um, so you’re in a bit of a unique situation in that your whole extended family, your sister and your parents, live on the same street as you.
L: [Laughs]
I: Um, so- and your mum (my aunt) has a respiratory condition.
L: Yeah.
I: So, if you want to talk a little bit about, you know, you guys seeing each other 24/7
L: [Laughs]
I: Before-
L: [overlapping] Before
I: -And how that’s changed if at all.
L: Yeah, well, I think, I mean- So- so yeah I know- My mom and dad were our, um, our primary daycare for both our boys and, uh, my mom said that with her respiratory is- she has COPD, right, so with her respiratory problem, uh, she doesn’t feel that having our kids around, um, is the safest thing because my son is- you know, would be in schools, I would be in schools, and my wife’s a nurse; so she’s in the hospital, right? So, you think of, like, we’re all in these different germ factories that uh [laughs] that you know, could get to her. And- and you know- and you know, I- with Covid being… you know, having respiratory concerns it’s uh, it’s cert- everyone’s worried about that, right? SO, uh, that’s impacted us in that, um, uh, they’re no longer available for childcare but, you know, uh… it’s not a… I don’t want to say it’s a bad thing; we understand that, you know, [laughs] health first, safety first, right?
I: Mhm.
L: And so, uh, and then with me working from home, um, uh, that worked out and then Tanya was able to pick up a lot more night- uh, nightshifts so that, uh, we were able to arrange our schedules around for childcare, so that- it worked out. Uh, but, uh, just for like seeing out- seeing us socially, it is actually is probably pretty good because we live so close. You know, we have to keep our six feet, right? So, just to, you know, I’m in the backyard and I see my sister or my brother-in-law walk past and just say “hi” and we, you know, we make small-talk over the fence, you know, it’s no different from before. Uh, now that it’s summer, uh, we’re lucky that my parents have a pool. So, you know, we- we basically go to my parents’ backyard every day. They stay six feet away; we stay six feet away from each other. You know, they’re on the deck sitting, you know, on a lawn-chair, and we’re in the water swimming. So, uh, you know I really… uh, when it was wintertime, uh, and Covid was new and everyone was hunkered down, uh, I could see that being- that was difficult, right? I mean, Mother’s Day was over, um, you know, Skype, right? And so [laughs] you have this like- here we are, two houses down from each other and you can’t see, you know, you can’t see your mom on Mother’s Day but- so we’re doing the Skype thing for two houses away from each other, right? So, I think, you, know life now, like in the summer people are kind of, like, people are going for walks and they’re out and about and things like that so everyone’s keeping their distance but you’re still outside and I think that’s the thing. We- we, you know, kind of all agreed that we’re- no one’s sharing food, um, no one is, um, you know- You keep your distance. We don’t go in each other’s houses. Uh so, if you have to use the bathroom you- we walk home and use the bathroom at our own house. So, I guess we are pretty lucky that way, that we live so close that, you know, instead of going to the bathroom at my parents’ house I just walk home; it’s not big deal, right? [laughs] You know, so that’s pretty good.
I: Um, so, what’s going to happen, childcare-wise with your younger son when everyone’s back at school and work?
L: Yeah, well, that’s still kind of up in the air. [laughs] I think, um, you know, uh, I don’t know what my assignment is next year. Uh, so, uh, I don’t know if- I know that the schools are open but I don’t know if it’s just- the priority, again, is numeracy and literacy so I’m not sure where the industrial arts teachers are going to be. Um, I also, uh, my- my mother-in-law, uh, she has volunteered to watch the kids a couple days a week and then with Tanya working shift work I think it should all work out because, you know, I’ll come home, she’ll leave for work, if there’s any overlap than my mother-in-law might fill in- fill in the void there. So, uh, but, again, there’s just a lot up in the air right now, right? So, no one really knows what September’s gonna look like.
I: Um, shifting gears a little bit-
L: Mhm.
I: What does a typical day look like right now and how is it different from before? We’ve touched a little bit on it but…
L: Sure. I’m on holidays right now, right? So, [laughs] it’s just, you know, um, I guess if you were to compare my summer holidays now versus my summer holidays last year, um, you know, our- our trips are more local, like we’re going camping locally, right, as oppose to abroad. You know, I- it’s funny because we don’t- don’t go restaurants anymore. We used to do that a fair bit. Uh, and things like- I know with my kids it’s, you know, they’re asking questions like “well, why can’t we go get a Slurpee at 7-Eleven?” You know, things like that, but at- you know, um, it’s- that’s- they’re just- It’s just their new normal that we just don’t do that anymore, but last year we would go for Slurpees or we would, you know, go for ice cream or things like that, so that’s kind of, you know, we don’t do that as much any more. Um, when I was at work, um, like, you know, a few months back when school was still on, uh, it was a big adjustment because my day used to be, you know, going to a wood shop and preparing, uh, you know, materials for students and then greeting students and teaching lessons and all that good stuff, marking and, you know, everything in the school building. And then, um, the… and then it turned into remote learning which was, you know, just the- just me clacking away on a computer [laughs] which is less fun than building stuff with kids, right? [laughs] Well, it’s different, I shouldn’t say it’s less fun but it’s just, you know. So that was- that was a fairly big adjustment. There’s also the- the kind of- there’s- there’s just this… um, this kind of like random stress in the air, if that makes sense.
I: Hmm.
L: Uh, where, you know- and sometimes you don’t even remember it, like, you just- you don’t- you just think like, “oh, this is my life” and then all of a sudden you see someone wearing a mask, or something like that and you’re thinking “Oh man! You’re right!” You know? [Laughs] “Oh, yes! That’s what’s happening!” Or, um, you know, uh, uh, just like, waiting in line for something and the line is wrapped up around the store because you have to keep your 6 feet, you know, and you drive past a grocery store, or something and like “Oh my goodness there’s this-“ you know, “this line that’s through the parking lot, what’s happening here?!” but then “oh yeah, that’s right; we’ve got to keep our distance.” So, you know, sometimes you forget about it, um, you know, then sometimes you just get these “oh yeah” moments, right? I remember this one time, uh, it was right around- I think it was actually the Friday before school closed, and I was listening to um, uh, CBC News on the radio as I was driving to the school and it was just doom and gloom, you know? It just wasn’t very good, so I changed the radio station, uh, and I put it to a rock station that we had and sure enough it was- they were sprouting doom and gloom too. [laughs] So I was like, “Aw, well this is a bummer” so I changed the radio station to another channel that had, like, classic rock or whatever it was hoping I would hear some music now, right? [Laughs] And sure enough, it was doom and gloom, so I turned the radio off, and I was like, “Ok, well, I’m going to be honest, I’m feeling kind of bummed out.” The radio’s off, I stop at a red light, and I look over and I see these, uh, these three construction workers. They were- they were repairing the roadway in their, you know, their helmet and the whole bit. So, one construction worker bent over to pick something up that he had dropped, and another guy jumped on his back and started giving him- like forcing a piggyback on him. [laughs] And I thought to myself, “you know, this is exactly what I need right now-“[laughs]
I: [laughs]
L: “Is watching these knuckleheads piggyback around!” [still laughing] Just- so it was kind of, you know- So, on the one hand you hear these- you have these like, you know, this kind of like, underlying stress, doom, and gloom, but then on the other hand, all of a sudden, you have these weird, wonderful things that happen that you’re like, “Oh yeah! You know what? This is- this isn’t bad.”
I: “We’re going to be ok, for a little bit.”
L: We’re going to be ok. Like, you know, my aunt (your mum), she made some nice, uh, masks and sent them to my- to my family. Like how thoughtful is that, right? And so, all of a sudden you have these like, doom and gloom on the radio but then, “Aw, damn, this is ok!” You know? [laughs] There’s a lot of bad but a lot of good comes from it too, you know?
I: You and your family sent out a very nice card.
L: Yes, yes yeah, yeah, well, you know-
I: That was like a holiday card but for [overlapping] Covid.
L: [laughs] Yeah, yeah, s’for Covid! Like a Covid holiday card, yeah, with the pictures and stuff on it, yeah. Yeah, well, you know, it’s all... It’s all- What do you do, right? It’s all part of it so… [laughs]
I: Um you mentioned shopping so who’s doing the shopping right now? And how often do you guys go? And has that change at all or has it stayed pretty constant and…
L: Uh, well originally, uh, grocery shopping was, uh, um, like Tanya did 95% of the grocery shopping. Uh, and then, when Covid first kind of came into play, uh, we switched to like, a car delivery service. You know, like they bring it out to your car, right? Uh, and we, because we live so close to my parents and my sister, we kind of coordinated that too. So, we’d do, um, like “oh yeah, I’m going to Walmart and I’m getting it delivered. What’d you want to add onto the grocery list?” Right? Uh, and so we did that and then, um, things kind of got more and more lax and then we just kind of, just, regularly go grocery shopping. Um, I think- uh, I guess a big difference is we’re kind of more mindful of… uh, like we always went to Costco but now we’re buying, like we’re just buying more toilet paper and we’re buying more, bigger, you know, more bigger bags of flour and, you know, things like that. We’re just kind of, you know, more mindful of the bulk and- and why that’s- It’s nice to have a bit of a pantry stocked and-and kind of things like that, right? So, I think, um, yeah, um, I mean, um, Tanya still does the majority of the grocery shopping, uh, and- and it’s partly because of, uh, her being a shift worker. You know, she could go- She goes at 9 o’clock at night, you know.
I: Hmm
L: And the- it’s usually quiet and stuff like that, right? So, that- that usually works out well too. And then, you know, I go grocery shopping whenever we need to and, uh… I’m not saying I don’t go but she does the majority of the shopping. Yup, yeah. Yeah, so I think, I mean- Also, too, I’ve noticed that um, uh- It’s funny because we have, uh, like we have our- we have an idea of how much we spend on entertainment and then we have an idea on how much we spend on groceries and so, uh, our grocery- our entertainment budget has gone down but our grocery budget has gone up and they’ve both sort of- they’ve basically kind of evened each other out. So, I think our- you know, we’re having more fun cooking at home, right? Like, you know, we might have a- a- a- like a fancy steak dinner on like a Tuesday or just like, [laughs] you know what I mean? Like, like, so we’re able to kind of like- our meals have stepped up quite a bit, uh, which is nice, um. But what would have been at a restaurant or something like that is now, uh, you know, a nice meal at home that way. And it’s also funny too because, uh, now- now restaurants and places are kind of opening up and we’re kind of scoffing at paying premium, [laughs] you know? Well, I can make a better meal for way less just at home! [continues laughing] So, so I- I- you know, it’s kind of a funny thing that’s come around that way too.
I: Um, if you were writing a history book or making an exhibit about this era in time, what would you include?
L: Oh! You know… [long pause] Yeah, that’s a good question. I think- You know a part of me- Whenever I- I- I think of exhibits or of museums or whatever, I often think of the extremes, right? I think of the extreme wonderful things that happen or I think about the extreme awful things that happen. But I kind of feel like I’m living this kind of like- I don’t really have any extremes, I mean, I- I- you know. Like, I haven’t had any, you know, knock on wood I haven’t have any deaths, uh, you know, close to me and, you know, I haven’t- I haven’t won 649 [lottery] [laughs] on the other hand, you know, right? So- so, I don’t really see the extremes like- I think if you were to have a true museum exhibit it would be the average everyday life of a person, right? And, you know, we were joking before [the interview started] the average everyday life of my life now is getting excited about the neighbour having a garage sale, right? So [laughs] so these little like, these little successes where… You know, like my- you know, my- my, um, my grass in my yard has never looked this good, my garden has never been this tended, uh, you know, my kids go out and play in the backyard more than going out and doing, you know, the big- you know- Like they’re not signed up for swimming lessons and they’re not signed up for these, uh, you know these big, high-dollar things, you know? We’re just kind of playing in the backyard and swimming in my parents’ pool, and we’re gardening, and we’re doing these kind of, I want to say, more wholesome things, right? It’s kind of, you know- I don’t know how you would- I-I- I almost feel like we taken a few steps back, uh, and that should be celebrated, uh, and I don’t know if it would be because I think we… Like, that’s not- you know, that’s not the sexy piece of the museum exhibit, with me with my nice lawn and my neighbour having a garage sale! Right? Like people want- you know you want that-
I: Death and gore or- [overlapping]
L: Exactly, yeah, that death toll or whatever.
I: -People standing up for-
L: Yeah [laughs]
I: Yeah
L: Yeah, and like I say: on paper, my wife’s a nurse, so you hear “frontline worker” and things like that- And there’s no doubt that they’re working extra hard and they’re so doubt that they’re stressed out and- and things like that but- but as Tanya said, she’s now feeling like she’s more likely to get Covid at the grocery store than she is to get it at work. I think, you know, this underlying stress… She said it best: she said that she and her colleagues were going through what they called- she called it um, “Pre-TSD.”
I: Hmm.
L: So, I- it’s like, it’s not- you have the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress, but it hasn’t happened yet, because everyone’s worried about this, like, flooding of hospitals and- and all these terrible things that could happen in a hospital. But it hasn’t happened yet, and it has happened in other cities and things like that, don’t get me wrong, but we’re lucky we haven’t experienced those things. So, but- but everyone’s aware of it and everyone’s high stress and she said, you know, there’s times she sees a colleague just staring off at a wall. Just- just like, it’s sad, like, they’re- they’re just high levels of stress that way, right? So, you know, the- the level of stress in the air is certainly, um, certainly something to put of the history books. Um, there’s also how different countries and different governments are dealing with it. Um, you know, as Canadians we’re always uh [laughs], we’re always comparing ourselves to Americans, right? And I think we did a wonderful job if you compare it to the Americans this time. I know, um Trudeau, whether you like him or not, or whatever- whatever your political beliefs are he stuck a- he had a clear um, definition of what he wants to do and that was that all Canadians are going to, you know, basically, be as safe or as healthy as they can be and that they shouldn’t worry about losing their job. And that’s like- that’s the line in the sand there’s not ifs and- an- ands or buts about it, right? So, I think, you know, that would be an interesting thing to add to the history books on what, uh, politicians and things would do differently or what, you know, how they handled it. Yeah, I mean, you know, what’s my everyday life, right? I- I keep thinking back to World War Two, where you hear, and this is, you know [laughs] clearly, you know, you know, much smaller scale, right? But I keep hearing- I think of like, you know, the Women’s Auxiliary Unit sewing or knitting um, socks to send overseas, or- or, um, they’re donating pots and pans, or something like that, for the war effort, and it’s funny because you’re- I’m- you know- Everyone’s doing their part, right? Everyone’s chipping- I mean you’re doing a- a- you’re archiving it. It’s all pretty incredible stuff, right? And so, it’s neat that everyone’s coming up with their own unique different ways of I wanna say “fight Covid” if you want to call it that but- You know, it also gives people a sense of purpose and belonging and- and, you know, a reason to wake up in the morning and… You know, I remember when this all first happened, uh, you know, it would be three or four days and I hadn’t shaved and I’m like, [laughs] “You know what?! I’m going to start my day off right!” [continues laughing] So, so, I think a big part of it too is just, you have those routines, right? And, uh, you know, there’s a lot to say for having a purpose to get out of bed every morning and that’s, uh, that’s important, right?
I: For the record, my brother has still not shaved since all of this began.
L: [Laughs] What’s- what’s his beard like?
I: It’s probably about [unintelligible] yours at this point so it’s not as-
L: Ah, ok. He’s not got the full Santa Claus or something [laughs]
I: No, no.
L: [laughs] That’s funny. Yeah, well, you know-
I: [overlapping] Yeah.
L: -everyone’s doing their thing, right? Yeah.
I: So, anything else you wanted to have on the record?
L: Um [long pause] You know I think it’s- I think that- it’s interesting that- What I notice is that, you know, people with… [long pause] there-there’s people that have strong beliefs and things, right? And I think what people don’t like is that they’re being told what to do. Like, they’re being told they can’t go to church They’re being told they can’t go to school They can’t to work. They can’t do this, they can’t do that and that, I’ve noticed, has put a lot of people on edge. And there are a lot of people that are fighting that and there’s- It’s just amped up this kind of, like, underlying stress I was talking about. And I think it- that’s a real shame. Um, and I get it, um, there’s- you know, people feel the way they feel, right? Uh, but it’s almost like there’s this us-versus-them, right? There’s the people that are ok with wearing a mask in public and then there’s the people that are dead set against it; they want nothing to do with that. And I think that- that division of people I don’t think is cool. I- I think that that’s kind of a sad thing that’s come of this. But, if you have the outlook, um- You know, like, I think of all the- just how blessed I am, right? I mean, I got, you know, an extra five months at home with my kids. Right? Uh, my lawn has never looked so good. My garden has never looked so good. My, uh, like, my meals are better. I’m saving money. You know, like I spent a total of like 130 bucks in cash in my car in the last five months. You know? [laughs] Like, it’s less pollution. I’m riding my bike more. Um, it’s just- but- So, these are all wonderful things but then there’s this- these kind of like knit-picky things that are happening in the background. It’s like, you know, “Oh yeah, I have to stand outside for a little while,” you know, “for this lineup,” right? They kind of remind you again, right?
I: Mhm.
L: Or the news comes on and it’s like “Oh yeah! This is kind of a bummer!” You know? [Laughs]
I: [Laughs]
L: So- so it’s funny, but you have to look on the- you have to keep on the bright side of life, right, and look at the wonderful things, right? And that’s why we send a- a- nice smiley face card that was- [laughs] It’s not all bad. It is what it is, right? Que sera sera.
I: Alright.

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