At times like this, I want to make everyone around me feel good or at least better about themselves. I want to have a funny or sarcastic story to share about my weekend to make people laugh…or even just to brighten up the day. When it still feels like Groundhog’s Day…again! Life is what we’ve made it…we are all going through this horrific pandemic where politicians and local leaders and teachers and bosses and friends keep telling us to stay home to stay safe. We don’t feel sick…yet we are “made to stay home”…like when we stayed home sick from school as children.
I am super fortunate because while I am not physically going into my office everyday, I am still working from home. This means that between the hours of 9:30 – 5:30, M-F, I am in the mindset that I am a legal secretary. Ok…I don’t have to get dressed up or do my hair/makeup each day in order to make that happen…in the way I used to. Working in the newest area of Manhattan, Hudson Yards, it used to be with pride that I used to march through the lobby each morning on my way up to where my team sat and conducted our jobs each day.
Now those chairs are empty and the space is void of people. Smiles and Hellos would greet us each morning as did our co-workers and superiors with concerns of how our weekend was or what was being served for breakfast up in the restaurant. Now I just roll out of bed and turn my computer on…I check in with my team each morning and while an email is never a good way to express a smile and sense of camaraderie among work colleagues, it has been what we have been left with as far as our newest method of communication. To me, it just seems void of feelings…I’m beginning to forget what people actually look like and certainly what they sound like. I am even starting to forget what NYC looks like with people!
Again, I am one of the few fortunate ones. I know of people who work in industries that just no longer exist. Entertainment, live sporting events or concerts, the majority of those who work within the restaurant, bar and nightclub industry…they have no one to reach out. Sure, maybe the owner of the last establishment they worked…maybe someone is their point of contact at their last freelance gig…them and 1,000’s of others. When I want to feel sorry for myself and scream out loud how much I miss my “work” friends everyday, I stop myself because at least I can email them or call them to hear how their weekend was…knowing they are also sitting at their own respective make-shift office space where, like me, they are making believe they are who they were before all this insanity started. We are NOT going through an identity crisis…
But I know that there are millions out there who are. Unemployment benefits can not keep up with the number of people who are in need of some quick cash just to feed their families tonight because their job is no more…that’s it…their jobs are just not there. It’s not as though someone else stepped in and took over…they can’t blame the computers that took jobs away from so many people in the past 20 years…in this case..it is just that their jobs are just not there. It does not matter how awesome they were doing at their job…just like that…it vanished!
These are many of the people that I converse with each day…who is out of work, yet can’t start their new gig until after this has passed…who is supporting their spouse who has one of those jobs that are no more…who is trying to keep a family together…straight and safe and sane?!?! Who is just trying to stay safe and sane with a significant other whose job has changed drastically? Who can’t afford to sit around and wait for the unemployment benefits to start arriving? It is now the 10th week and I know quite a few people who have not received anything in benefits…not a penny! Did they do anything wrong? Did they do anything to result in their identity being squashed…nothing that might suggest that suddenly they will no longer be who they had considered themselves to be…yet, they have gone 10 weeks and no one has taken them out to lunch or dinner, put them up in any hotel…meaning that rent still comes due at the end of each month…and someone has had to keep them occupied and free from their own devices.
Yes, I do miss seeing people and being in attendance at live sporting or musical events. But I also feel as though I’ve been completely stripped of who I am. I used to read on the subway during my commute…something that used to help me define who I was. I used to stop off at stores or boutiques on my way home to pick things up for myself. I used to research fun recipes to prepare in our new kitchen to share with my significant other. I used to feel lucky as I would get a surprise text on my way out of the office for me to meet my guy at some restaurant he had discovered that afternoon where he’d like me to meet for dinner…before a planned movie showing or live band that was planned for that night. You know what??? I miss that! I miss what used to define us as a couple…our adventurous natures matched…our never knowing where the night was about to take us…or who we might meet! These are some of the things that I now feel have been stripped from my life.
The other day, I was finally able to connect with a good friend of mine on the phone…and I was filled with questions about what she had been doing…what had she and her husband been up to not to lose their minds. But she was pretty honest when she said to me, “I have nothing to report. Nothing has changed for us.” Yep, I get it! And that is when I ask myself the question, “What do you say?” I can’t wait until we can just put this whole experience behind us…good, bad, or indifferent…this experience is meant to teach us something (I always say that…everything happens for a reason)…I just hope that we are all paying attention and that we’ve learned the lesson that will take the entire year to teach it…because i really don’t want to spend another year waiting for that other shoe to drop! Life is too damn short!
And remember, tomorrow, the sun will come up again…you’ve got to stay safe and stay sane! We will make it through this and become better, more resilient people as a result! Saludos!