After being unemployed for nearly a month, I returned to my job on Monday. The company took out a loan from this new government program to be able to reopen. See, only billion-dollar banks and corporations qualify for huge taxpayer-funded bailouts. Small businesses like this one have to content themselves with taking out loans. But that's none of my business. Anyway, the timing came as a surprise to me because, though the initial closure was due to Amazon's issues due to the beer bug rather than due to the beer bug itself, I assumed it would remain closed at least until May 1 when Governor Herbert will start to loosen up his "Stay Safe, Stay Home" policy a bit. Or maybe until July, depending on how long Amazon takes to straighten out its issues. I had just started getting used to my life consisting solely of sitting at home alone and going on long walks alone. The first couple weeks dragged on and on and on and with no end in sight, the thought occurred to me more than once that I might end up hanging myself, but then the days just started to zip by. Sleep in a little, work on my Spotify playlist, take a walk, and bam, it's already dinnertime.
I hope it's safe to go back because I couldn't legally decline the offer and continue to collect unemployment insurance. For that matter, I haven't gotten nearly as much money from unemployment insurance as I was supposed to. Utah's website was all like "Yes, the federal government passed this bill to increase weekly unemployment payments by $600, but we're not doing that yet because something something bullcrap." And yes, I agree with those complaining that essential workers should also be getting $600 weekly raises, if not more, but I never asked to lose my job so I don't appreciate being painted as some kind of villain for getting paid to do nothing. Anyway, the company is taking new precautionary measures and there are a lot fewer of us anyway since many employees have gone home to their families. Every other workstation is empty, weekly food days are gone, congregating during breaks is forbidden and I always wear a mask. It should be fine until the second wave hits during flu season and Utah has no herd immunity.
I'm very frustrated with the people who refuse to take this pandemic seriously, who implicitly treat it as a joke or explicitly claim that it's being blown out of proportion. Someone recently complained that all my Facebook posts nowadays are "judgey" of people doing things that I don't approve of. Well yes, I suppose I am a bit judgey of people whose apathy and/or stupidity is actively endangering God knows how many innocent lives. I do believe that if there were any justice in the world, the virus would evolve to specifically target the people who are protesting for the right to catch it. I'd rather just catch it and get it over with too but I recognize that other people don't want to die and I have no right to kill them if I can avoid it. Even if, according to Republican logic, they are sub-human and don't count as evidence of the virus' seriousness because they were over sixty or had underlying health conditions. "All lives matter" my butt.
It's kind of sickening that as a society and as a species we're at a point of having to weigh people's lives against something called "the economy". Because people's lives are, you know, an actual thing, whereas the economy is a manmade illusion. We invented this stuff called money, we decided that it has value because we say it does, and we decided that most adults' every waking moment should be spent stressing over it. We twisted the wholesome principle of honest work for honest pay into a system designed to keep poor people poor and make the average life revolve around the constant pursuit of money. I recognize that money is a necessary evil and that running modern civilization without it would be virtually impossible. I don't know of a better alternative. But still, a slight reality check would be nice. Money is not real. The economy is not real. The stock market is just a bunch of numbers. So why do we worship them? Why are we debating what number or percentage of human lives is an acceptable sacrifice to prevent this manmade illusion from floundering further?
The mental health problem, at least, is a legitimate concern that the people saying "stay home" over and over have almost entirely glossed over. It took a heavy toll on my mental health until I got used to it. I didn't think giving up my limited social activities would make any noticeable difference, but it did, and then one of my greatest worries was realized when I lost my job. Life was boring and lonely and miserable and even though I was getting used to it I'm glad I have my job back. I feel somewhat validated in what I said years ago when I first got this job - that it's a very good job, and it's like a marriage, in that you start out all excited and stuff but as the years where on it becomes commonplace and tedious and you have to consciously remind yourself every day how blessed you are to have it. Of course, I will be leaving and probably never coming back after I become a graduate instructor and hopefully kick off a teaching career this fall. But it's hard to say what that will even look like. Will I do everything online? Will the university even be open? The uncertainty kind of blows. But even so, I think I'm finally figuring out how to be an adult and for the first time since becoming one, I'm optimistic about the future.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.