Coronavirus Diaries is a series of diary-type entries written by students and staff documenting the day to day activities and experiences in quarantine. If you are interested in submitting an entry, contact us at email@example.com
We have now been under quarantine for over 64 days. 64 days, from my perspective, filled with increasingly stricter regulations, plexiglass, lots of spray cleaner and ripped rubber gloves. As an essential worker, and a teenage one, I feel a whirlwind of gratitude and fear enveloping me as I punch into every shift. While not everyone is as fortunate to have a steady job or career prospects during this time, the anxiety and distress enclosed in each greeting, temperature scan and cleaning take its toll.
As COVID rages on, my job has taken progressive steps to ensure every worker’s safety. From the lines of red tape placed down to separate the cashier from the customer to the endless supply of fluorescent blue gloves, the company I work for has adopted a variety of countermeasures against this deadly virus. While the preemptive actions of protection have proved helpful, my family continues to worry. With an influx of customers that continue to enter with no mask, no gloves and a sense of entitlement, my family and I remain tense about what the future holds in store for our area.
As a cashier, a routine emerges. Much like one wakes up, stretches and fulfills their morning tasks, a temperature is taken, mask put on and station cleaned is parallel. I have found myself both grateful and terrified, feeling at times guilty for the lack of appreciation I have for my situation. I still have a job, my family is safe and healthy, and for the most part, customers are understanding and respectful. When I have a difficult workday, or get stressed about the work at hand, taking a moment to stop and reflect on the positives has kept me grounded during this time.
Which brings me to mental health. Pausing to assess, I notice the shift in perspective I’ve had since quarantine has begun. With previous worries surrounding peer relationships, college uncertainty and grades, new worries begin to take form. What once was school-centered has now become what-ifs: if my family has enough water bottles and cans of soup, toilet paper and bread and the latest game console or entertainment. I realize the stressors I face now have become a luxury, for my pantries are still stocked, water still running and family still comfortable. But what about those that do not possess such comforts? What about the mental health of those who lack steady housing, food and water? I realize that most of my stresses revolve around gaining a certain amount of an item or enjoyment while others struggle just to get the essentials. Seeing this has allowed me to survey other areas of my life, and the privilege I have in having certain stresses. While I may stress about if my prom dress would come in time, another senior may not be able to afford their school lunch. Quarantine has brought me a changed perspective during a time of isolation and reflection.
So as I continue to hear the melody of the scanning machines, the pop tunes drifting out the speakers and the buzz of communication and words, I continue to practice gratitude. While the situation everyone lies in is not ideal, I find myself drinking in the moments that have accumulated into this very moment, and the comfort and privilege that allows me to continue to do so.