Life in the Time of Corona: Dispatch from Vancouver Week 1

Monday, March 16, 2020 – Our store hours changed and so my coworker and I had an hour of cleaning our counters and taking snaps of products to advertise on our social media accounts before opening shop. Managers were letting us know that decisions were still being made as we spoke. As I was getting off work, I said goodbye to my coworker. We usually say things like “see you tomorrow!” or whatever day one was scheduled but we refrained from doing so because we didn’t know if the store would decide to close down temporarily. “Hey, you never know!” We told each other as we parted. My sister and I then went to H-Mart (a Korean grocery store) to see if there were still facemasks available for sale. They did not, predictably so.

When I got home, I received and email that we would close for two weeks starting the next day.

The red screen of death, after too much Counter Strike

Tuesday, March 17, 2020- Cleaned my desk so I could feel more productive in my workspace. I still had to plan out what I would do for the next two weeks. We went to the nearby park for a break, skate boarded and played basketball. There were very few people in the park. One in the tennis court, us, a small family having a low-key birthday picnic, a couple getting some sun and a lone jogger. We all kept our distance from each other. It wasn’t difficult. Our city hasn’t imposed any lockdowns or community quarantine but a lot of businesses have been closing and enforcing work from home schemes before the government directives.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020– Washed the dishes, laundered underwear. Went to the grocery store. No one was panicking and the store was busy like an early evening weekday. Items that have run out: eggs, almond milk, soy milk, tofu, dumpling wrappers, corned beef, chicken wings, most meats.

I got cold cuts, spam, cheese, chicken breasts and thighs. And some chocolates for when dementors come. . .My housemates laughed at me since I’ve been gradually buying Spam every time I went to the grocery store. But they ate it all up in Week 1. only had four cans, mind you.

My friends and I live in different provinces so we have been keeping in touch. My high school teacher and I have started to message each other again, sharing our frustrations with the Philippine national government.

My mom, while holding dual citizenship opted to stay in the Philippines to help with the efforts of (our hometown) city government. We advised her to stay home as much as possible and to conduct meetings online. However, as a consultant she has also been drafted to be part of the City’s Emergency Operation Center handling Covid-19. This means she will be sleeping at the city hall which has us all worried. But we know that this is what she wants to do and what she’s called to do, so after a series of emotional discussions we’ve come to an agreement. That doesn’t mean we don’t get stressed and anxious. It’s been a challenge when we chat online. Sa bisaya pa, maka kunsomisyon! merisi, sus ginoo, pag social distancing palihug nganong gahig ulo!

Thursday March 19, 2020– Did the laundry in the morning, from all clothes to bedsheets and winter coats. Went to the park again to skateboard and play soccer. Fell on the skateboard. Cooked dinner of pasta chicken tomato. Went home and played Counter Strike. My younger sister bought snacks from 7-11 and so now we have been eating too much chips and icecream. I squeezed in a workout before going to sleep.

Friday March 20, 2020– Stayed indoors all day. Had sushi delivered, contactless delivery. Edited videos for Youtube Channel. We also had liquor delivered so I am now onto my second can of vodka soda. Watched some KDrama. Lots of napping. Vancouver has now declared a state of emergency. Even before the declaration, people have been doing their civic duty and taking it upon themselves to close shop, work from home, self-quarantine and practice social distancing.

On sunny days however, people have been breaking the rules of social distancing. In Vancouver, sunny days > Corona virus. The Park Board decided to enforce strict rules, no more use of park facilities like basketball courts, tennis courts, they also took out the benches on the beach. Violators will apparently be fined. You can still go on a walk.

Saturday, Sunday, Monday March 21-23, 2020 – The days have mixed up, we have been ordering contactless delivery from one of our favourite sushi place. On another day, I ate two burgers and drank pop. We’ve decided to only cook a full meal once a day to avoid food spoiling. As we’re snackers, we’re left on our own to make snacks any time of day. So far, Day 1 has worked.

Thoughts: It’s a weird feeling to have this much privilege in the time of a pandemic. I don’t have to worry about not getting paid while I don’t work. I grew up in the Philippines and am very much still involved and aware of what’s happening there. There is such a vast difference in the way of life. I try to refrain from posting what goes on in our daily lives, even though it is the norm in this side of the world. The norm here is a luxury there. When my high school teacher and I were talking, we expressed that we weren’t as worried about our families and friends because they were in a much more privileged position. What we worried about were the vulnerable sector, the Filipino workers who subsist on a daily wage.

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