Opinion: Comparing my time being unemployed, and as an essential worker during COVID-19

Max Mayleben
Media Editor

Before the lockdown began, I was happily employed with three separate jobs, all that paid moderately well. One, here at the newspaper writing stories and maintaining the social media pages., another in retail at a shoe store, and the last at a restaurant.

When the lockdown was announced, over the course of a week, I was told by each of those jobs that they would no longer be able to pay me, and that I was effectively laid off.

In the days that followed, I experienced a lot of stress and uncertainty. Uncertain if I would be able to pay rent that month, uncertain what I was going to be able to do during my time off, and uncertain of how long I would be without a job.

For two weeks, I found myself twiddling my thumbs, waiting for a phone call, an email, anything saying I could come back to work. I played a lot of video games. I tried to hone new skills, watch the movies I always said I would watch, even plowed through Tiger King, like everyone else.

Both of my roommates were deemed essential workers, so I found myself alone in my apartment a whole lot, just waiting for them to come home to have someone to talk to. I would walk up and down the halls like Anna from Frozen, just looking for stuff to do. In a time of isolation, everything felt empty.

Then I got an email, asking if I would be able to come back into work to help with curbside pick up for my restaurant job. I was ecstatic. I finally had something to do that felt worthwhile.

So I went back to work.

My attitude when going back to work was that of extreme relief. I told my boss that I would do whatever job they needed me to do, even if it meant me cleaning the floors with a toothbrush. I was just happy to not have to be holed up in my house day after day.

And it is difficult. There is a lot of uncertainty and worry about whether or not it is safe to be working in a time like this. We wear gloves and masks every day at work to try to ensure that we don’t catch the virus.

Being an essential worker can be very difficult and tiresome but staying under lockdown and following social distancing has its own set of difficulties that can be daunting as well.

Check in on your friends, whether they are in the workforce or not. Keep in mind your own mental health as well as those around you.  If we make sure that everyone we care about feels cared for, then we will get through this.

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