At the beginning of March 2020, when we had our monthly meeting at work, the first serious discussion of COVID-19 came up. This was a few weeks before the lockdown came into effect in Canada. None of us in that meeting were expecting a shutdown. We had the assurance that things would be fine. But then, we also forgot that there was Murphy’s law.
Over the next few weeks, the number of COVID cases was on the rise. And then came the shutdown. Somewhere in the middle of March, the government of Ontario ordered all non-essential businesses to close. That was when reality hit me hard. I could not sleep that night because I worked in a manufacturing firm and had no idea if we would be able to continue.
However, it turned out that the company was deemed essential since we manufactured certain products for essential businesses. After I knew that my job was safe, I felt relieved. For the next few weeks, there was no traffic on the roads and I remember that I was the only vehicle on the street for the 10 minutes that I drove to work.
I watched the fuel prices stoop down to an all-time low. Empty gas stations sometimes made me think if I was living in a science fiction movie. I continued to work full time, 8 hours a day in the office until March 31. By now, most of the common workforce was already experiencing the brunt of the pandemic, or at least the restrictions.
Panic is No Good
This was the week when people in my town began to do panic shopping. Most of the shelves were empty. Me, being a minimalist, used to spend around 20 dollars a week on groceries on average. I always maintained a just-in-time inventory at home, but that just did not work that week. But I got whatever was available and made meals out of it.
I never understood the need for panic in the midst of a pandemic. It felt like i was living in a Steven Spielberg movie. The huge lineups outside Costco were on the news and images of people stacking up their shopping carts with toilet papers was everywhere on social media. I wasn’t able to check everything on my shopping list, but there was no problem procuring the essentials.
The panic-shopping trend created supply chain issues in grocery stores and this forced them to enforce strict rules on the number of products a person could purchase. Anyway, there were loopholes and the panic shoppers exploited them. I have to admit, the only thing I panic-shopped for was chips; I bought quite a few extra bags.
Adaptation Is Key
Since my full-time job involved a lot of paperwork, I still had to check into work a couple of hours every day. My coworkers and I had short shifts at the office so that we were all not there at the same time.
My normal workday started at 6:30 AM, when my annoying alarm blared, causing me to instantly wake up. Some days, I liked staying in bed, so I always had two more alarms set at 6:45 AM and 7:00 AM to make sure that I was out of bed. As you could see, I am definitely not a morning person. Never was, never will be.
But on April 1, it was a different story. I was one of the happiest people on the planet because I got an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Uninterrupted sleep. There was no need to wake up early, shower, pack my lunch and drive to work. Instead, I woke up, made myself a freshly brewed cup of coffee and logged into work from my home computer. I finally got to make the best use of the 500 dollar Secret Lab “Dark Knight”special edition chair that I bought a year ago.
This was not everyone’s forte, but being an introvert, I was more productive working from home. Before COVID, working from home was never even an option for people like me. The pandemic forced people and businesses to adapt to the necessary changes.
Everything Isn’t About Me
It was only a matter of time before masks became ‘mandatory’ everywhere. I had no problem wearing a mask when I entered a store, but began to hate it when it also became mandatory at the workplace. I had to wear a mask whenever I entered the office. This was another reason why I didn’t mind working from home. Wearing spectacles didn’t help either, especially in winter.
My glasses fogged up everytime I walked into a building and I had the option of removing my mask or the glasses to see. As funny as it sounds, these were the few times I had to remove my glasses in order to see better.
Besides all this, I knew that I wasn’t wearing a mask just to protect myself, and that I was being a responsible citizen. Everything did not revolve around me, and the safety of others depended on my actions.
Coping with Panxiety
The anxiety surrounding the whole pandemic situation was real. I initially assumed that I would cope well with time, but in this case, it was the opposite. The Panxiety only got worse. However, like most other people, I’ve learned to live with it and try not to let my anxiety get the best of me.
I had a few sleepless nights the week of the first lockdown here. What was going to happen? Would I lose my job? How am I going to manage things? It has been almost a year since I wrote my last article on Medium and I decided it’s about time to restart.
Coping with the anxiety of the pandemic is not easy, and I can say that from my own experience first-hand. But once I did, it was smooth sailing from then.
No Matter What, Follow Your Dreams
It is easy for someone to just say “Follow your dreams”. But in reality, there is a huge marathon of obstacles to face before we get to the finish line. I was baffled by the fact that a virus that was not even visible to the naked human eye could cause so much chaos and bring the world to a halt.
While I was fortunate enough to come unscathed from the pandemic, I know many people lost their livelihoods, their loved ones and most of all, their joy. There were selfless ‘heroes’ working tirelessly behind their PPE to let others
But amidst all this craziness, I learnt that if such a small virus could make a big change, you and me could do better. Despite the circumstances, we can all make a difference (hopefully in a positive way)!