Damielys Duarte/Staff Writer
If on New Year’s Eve you would have told me that 2020 would give us a worldwide pandemic and the nation would go into a recession, I wouldn’t have believed you.
And yet here we are, three months into the year and millions of people have lost their jobs, are sequestered in their homes and some have even died from this migratory virus. Grocery stores are being wiped clean and toilet paper has become the new commodity.
While I’m privileged enough to not have my life changed dramatically, the risks have certainly escalated for me and opened my eyes to how quickly our lives can be disrupted.
I work at a residential condominium in Miami Beach. As such, my line of work is considered an “essential” service—a blessing as I still have an income while the uncertainty of this virus lingers. However, the residents in my building are affluent, and many have returned to their second home from corona-infested countries such as Italy and Spain, as well as states like New York, which has the highest concentration of the virus in the U.S. with 59,513 cases as of March 29.
Suddenly, my area of work is a risk for contagion and my daily interaction with residents is putting my health and that of my family on the line. Because the work I do cannot be completed from home, I must continue braving the empty streets to work 5 days a week.
And while precautionary measures have been taken at my job—such as closing the office to residents, increased access to cleaning wipes and antibacterials and reducing my working days in order to limit my exposure—many of my friends and family do not believe this is enough.
Although my health and that of my family is important, our financial stability has been a factor that many in my same situation are facing daily. If I refuse to go to work I’m left either utilizing my sick and vacation time for my days off, staying at home with no pay or even termination.
For a young college student, none of these alternatives are feasible. The uncertainty of the U.S. economy for the next couple of months means losing my stable source of income is not an option I am willing to pursue—even if it comes at the expense of my health and that of my family.
Not to mention, that in the midst of this turmoil I am still enrolled in 5 classes and dealing with projects and school work while I continue to decide what path to take in regards to my financial and personal health.
This pandemic has not only reduced our social lives but it has also disrupted our very existence. Things we were taking for granted such as time with loved ones and a paycheck to wake up to every other Friday is suddenly no longer a fact but a hope. I didn’t think in a month I could begin to question the life I made for myself or even lose sight of the future.
Suddenly, everything isn’t written in stone but in sand that can be blown away at a moment’s notice. Now more than ever, we need to hold onto each other and ourselves, whether physically or virtually and hope we can get through this.
This experience has been eye-opening to the fragility of our lives and how something across the globe can reach us at our doorstep and tangle everything we have strived for.
Featured image by x1klima on Flickr.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Have questions or comments for our writers? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and the name of the column in the subject line.