topic_interest is exactly unprecedented
2020-08During isolation, myself and many others turned to baking as a way to pass time and enjoy a treat that didn't require anyone to leave the house. Perhaps more than this though, I felt that whatever I was baking was something that I had complete control over, so long as I followed the recipe, and in 'these unprecedented times' as the tag-line goes, this little bit of certainty was precious.
2020-08-10T01:26:13-04:00The day we entered quarantine was one of the most bizarre days I can remember. I was working my normal shift at the restaurant, and the dining room was completely empty. This in itself was strange for a place usually running on a few hours wait and constantly full of people. There had been talk about the restaurant closing its doors, but the thought seemed so absurd that no one really believed it. The air felt heavy, and my manager was nervously pacing around taking call after call. As I waited for guests to arrive I robotically folded my linens wondering if I was going to have a job in the coming days. The TV above the bar flickered with images of people in masks, hospitals filled with sick patients, scientists and doctors on podiums at the White House, the President trying to calm the public, and the words CORONAVIRUS UPDATE. I looked away. I felt like I couldn’t escape the impending disaster. I was supposed to work a double shift that day, March 16, but after not getting a single table, my manager sent me home and told me not to come in for dinner. I could see the stress etched on his face as he told me he would be let me know what was going on as soon as he knew. I learned the restaurant group was probably going to close all its restaurants for “two to three weeks.” Little did we know that it would be much longer. I drove home on deserted roads. I played no music and instead sat in silence trying not to panic about whether or not I would be jobless soon. I remember my dad texting me to go get gas in case the gas stations closed and pick up any groceries I may need for my apartment. What kind of times are we living in? Unprecedented times. It was surreal. When I got back to my apartment my roommates were both home. They informed me that for the next nine weeks they were instructed to work from home. I immediately packed a bag and headed for my parents house (at least I’d have more room and it would be quiet). I ended up spending most of the quarantine with my family. The restaurant I worked at closed for over three months. I had to file for unemployment and only received a fraction of what I used to bring in while employed. Times were tough. My dad, a pilot for American Airlines, took a six month leave, and I was glad to know my family was safe at home. The news never strayed from constant Covid-19 updates: potential vaccines in the works, testing sites erected all over the country, lockdowns across the globe, borders closing, toilet paper shortages, unemployment numbers skyrocketing, business failing. The good news never came, only a bombardment of the bad. The days seemed bleak. One day flowed into the next, and the weeks became an unsettling blur of constant unease and unrest. It seemed that the condition of the sick went from bad to worse. Death tolls increased by the day. The only thing left to do was pray, occupy your mind so that you wouldn’t become sick with worry, “find a hobby” they said, “learn a language” they said. I prayed with my family. We streamed mass every Sunday, and for that forty five minute service there existed a glimmer of hope, structure, and strength. I tried to be strong. I tried not to let my family see how much stress I felt at the thought of the struggling families going without paychecks and the exhaustion of workers on the front line. I tried not to think about my grandparents alone in their dark house with no one to check on them- only a daily phone call for months on end. I could hear the sadness in their voices when I called. “It shouldn’t be much longer now” I’d say, but my words sounded hollow. My family has a strong faith. I leaned on my family more than I had in a long time during the quarantine, and I witnessed my parents’ united display of trust in God. They had faith that things would get better, that humanity would prevail, and that we’d come out of this stronger. I listened to them say the rosary every night as they prayed for the sick and struggling world. It was all they could do, and they said it with as much conviction as they could muster. Praying provided them comfort, and I found myself chiming in, sitting with them as they closed their eyes and raised their concerns to God. As I returned to work in late June things had drastically changed. The world as we knew it was gone and in its place was a fractured society slowing healing from the devastation of Coronavirus. The generosity of the guests as they returned to the restaurant was like nothing I’d ever seen before. People went the extra mile to help each other as we integrated back into some level of normalcy. I saw one of the darkest times in recent history overcome with the most eye opening displays of kindness, understanding, and commitment to helping each other out. Experiencing the quarantine was a profound moment in my life. Not only did I find strength in my family and my faith, but also in my fellow man as we navigated these unprecedented times together.