1. When did you hear of the pandemic
The pandemic news came to me via the BBC World Service Radio and National Public Radio which gave totally different information because of their geographical differences and insight about the geopolitics. I knew of the Fox News viewpoints, but tried very hard to stay away from misinformation and agenda-seeking news items.
2. What would you have been doing, that was stopped, during the stay-in-place order
This time of the year has me readying to make the journey by car from Santa Rosa, CA, to Savanna, IL, as well as flying down to Sun City, AZ, to drive my parents back to Lanark, Illinois. I mention all of this traveling because it came to a halt. The risk of getting the virus, as well as the shutting down of flights because of decreasing flyers, was obvious. Weeks before the planned traveling always has me babysitting my son’s 3-year-old daughter in San Francisco while he and his wife work during the preschool’s two-week Spring break. So, off I went to San Francisco while my husband stayed in Santa Rosa, California.
3. Where were you during the stay-in-place order
My son’s house is near the West Portal area of San Francisco and in the first few weeks we were still going to restaurants. My granddaughter and I stayed with having lunch at the same Italian family restaurant because of their noon crowd being just us on some days. I suggested to the waitress they take pictures and note on their social media pages how they were disinfecting door handles and tables right down to the salt and pepper shakers and one day noticed they had a photographer doing just that. We bumped up our hand washing routine but other than that, there wasn’t much going on during the day in that particular neighborhood to worry about big gatherings of people.
The Bart L train was still going as well as our favorite, Bus 48. I was looking forward to our ventures on the buses to take us to Golden Gate Park and the Science Academy. After my first week of Preschool Spring Break, my son and daughter-in-law were sent home to work indefinitely and all the aforementioned stopped running and/or closed. Side note: Thank goodness they had bought this house six months prior otherwise the rest of the story wouldn’t have been pretty in a 900 square foot apartment with a 3-year-old and 2 remote workers. They stayed on the main floor and my granddaughter and I ran free in the lower level family room attached to a huge basement. We could run and bike ride all over in there as well as this became my bedroom and mini-kitchen for the next 12 weeks.
4. What happened in your area during the stay-in-place order
San Francisco shut down very quickly, but we were allowed to walk the neighborhood. It felt strange to not see the buses and Bart Trains bustling down the streets. Walking Toaster the Golden Doodle every morning and night became my ritual to let myself feel some semblance of reality and to get away from the life with a 3-year-old for a bit.
People took the mask idea seriously for a few weeks and then to my surprise, the bikers and runners quit even wearing something around their neck to use just in case they got 6’ from another person.
The corner wine store opened in the afternoon but you had to have called or ordered online for pick up and then when you go to the store, you hollered at them your name, and they then put outside on the sidewalk your goods.
The grocery stores in the neighborhood had people lined up outside by marking 6’ intervals on the sidewalk. One was never quite sure what they might have or not have available on your list. The meat shortage became apparent due to the packing plants not taking enough precautions to assure their workers wouldn’t get the virus. This again, is where politics got in the way; everyone forgot that the majority of packing plant workers were the same people this administration has wanted to not allow in this country and are paid the least and thus live with many workers in one house…..and the same for other low paying positions that we now realized were to be highly regarded when it comes to these situations. It hopefully was an awakening to some people that hold assumptions about these newly termed ‘essential workers’.
The cost of everything went up on Amazon and their delivery trucks were sometimes 3 on the same street. Their whole slogan of ‘2-day shipping’ will take a while to get back to, and shipping estimates are a 2-week window.
My profession of being a speech pathologist came to a halt because no one was going to get close to anyone to do any evaluations or therapy. There was an awakening to tele-therapy which has been talked about for years and nothing done nationally to get guidelines setup. This was nice to see but isn’t great for evaluations in reality. The pandemic also awakened ‘the powers that be’ to see the reason for using our national licensing as the only license we would need so therapists could go to other states and not have to worry about that state’s particular license requirements and payments. The latter was brought to light, but nothing specifically changed yet.
My sister was deathly ill but unable to get tested in Georgia to know if she had the virus, but the rest of my family came out of healthy. My daughter-in-law and I had very hacky coughs due to allergies which had me wanting a t-shirt that read: My coughing is from allergies not COVID-19, so people didn’t glare at me on the sidewalk if I had a coughing spell.
5. What will stay with us after the stay-in-place order
The food shortage will have prices remain high in the grocery stores. One can’t take for granted what the inventory might be on any product. Washing the outside of cans when you get them home is now in vogue and no one will think you are crazy.
The toilet paper shortage will remain a topic of humor. I still make a conscious decision on just how much toilet paper I really need. We were in Santa Rosa, CA during their fires and now we don’t let our car’s gas tank go under half. Because of the pandemic, we won’t let our toilet paper or bleach supply go below some level. The last time I bought bleach is before the age of most millennials.
Zoom video conferencing gatherings becoming a way to check on family and friends as well as for business meetings. You only have to ‘dress up’ from the waist high. Kids running around and dogs yapping in the background are acceptable.
Some businesses, where the internet is their main way of doing business, will continue to close their offices and have employees work from home indefinitely. This happened to my son and daughter-in-law. It will definitely increase their water and heating bills as well as them needing to change their rooms to be video conferencing appropriate with sound proofing and using their own phones.
Singing ‘happy birthday’ is the new way to know how long to wash your hands.
BYOP means ‘bring your own pen’ because you don’t know where the store’s pen has been. It was even a request for those that went out to vote in their primary.
Open a door through holding a scarf or with the new gadgets attached to your keychain
We have lots of new vocabulary of: PPE (personal protective equipment), what is a ventilator, pandemic, and social distancing are forever added to our lexicon.
We all know how to spread our arms out to measure 6’ and not feel silly.
The phrase “Cleanliness is next to godliness” has a whole new meaning.
Indoor shoes vs outdoor shoes became a new way of life for us. I know in some cultures and geographical areas, this is already done, but it was new for us to consider.
Wiping down the steering wheel of the car, washing our hands when we really hadn’t done anything, and wiping any door handle in sight, will continue for a while. The phrase “Cleanliness is next to godliness” has a whole new meaning.
6. What’s your take on the pandemic & insights for the future
Well, in so many ways, my family was blessed. My kids and husband could work from home thanks to the internet; the volume of business was down, but work continued to keep them busy. I don’t see how this world could have gone on as it did if the internet wasn’t to the level it is today.
My parents took an airplane for the first time in their life in order to get back to Illinois and realized it wasn’t that bad so hopefully in the future, this will be their mode of transportation. Thank gosh that for some reason I organized them getting their REAL ID driver’s licenses last summer or getting through the check-in process wouldn’t have been pretty and I made them take my old roller backpacks to Sun City. It made getting these folks in their 80’s back without using check-in luggage.
Because of the shutting down of services, I couldn’t do any speech therapy evaluations but I got to enjoy the life of a 3-year-old in which, she probably won’t remember why she has some of her quirky vocabulary we made up together, but she will have a closer relationship with me for the rest of her life.
And, come June, my husband and I will drive back to Savanna, IL to enjoy our family and friends around there as well as the raspberries that should be up.
I know our nation is truly a resilient child in that the last three years have been a constant barrage of astonishing events and actions that were polarizing, but we pulled together for a few weeks to save one another the best we could until once more the leadership gave such confusing messaging and no one again knew what to believe or consider. Hindsight is 20/20 and I hope we don’t forget and end up not learning from these events. This initial pandemic crisis hasn’t even ended and now we are facing the George Floyd killing protests and rioting. With the news citing police brutalizing some of those that are peacefully attending, it is a wake up call as to “bad hombres” on both sides of this ordeal. It just never ends.