COMMENTARY: How COVID-19 Stole My Life

April 6, 2020 /

I was just hired on for a new job that started just three months ago. I should say that it took me more time to acquire this job than the amount of time it took for COVID-19 to snatch it from my hands.

It was Monday, March 16, when my supervisor called me into her office and told me “Erick, unfortunately, you will be furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.”

Initially, when she informed about the intern’s reduction, I just accepted the fact I was going to be furloughed. What other option did I have?

As I went back to my obligations, for that last day of work, the notion of being furloughed hit me. I couldn’t believe I was going to be jobless for the next two and a half weeks.

I had question after question running through my head non-stop. I had to ask why I was being furloughed. Was I not performing my duties properly? Did my supervisor think I was being lazy in the workplace?

Thankfully, my supervisor understood my confusion of being furloughed. As a result, she answered every concern I had letting me know she wouldn’t be laying workers off, if it was up to her. 

Unfortunately, the organization that hired me couldn’t employ me for the rest of the moth because of the COVID-19 social distancing guidelines and funding resources. My supervisor assured me my work was efficient and up to the standards of what the she needed.

The day ended with being handed my last paycheck. In my head, I went home with tranquility, thinking my leave of absence would only last for those two and a half weeks. Little did I know my lay off time would become indefinite.

As of right now, I do not count with a stable job. I’m relying on my small savings, which are helping my family pay house expenses, such as food, hygiene products, cleaning products and covering my college necessities.

College online has not been the best experience, primarily for my Communication courses. And it doesn’t help that home is a very distracting environment to focus on virtual class sessions and assignments.

Although I’m not very fond of the online class approach Bakersfield College transitioned to, it’s not within my plans to drop the towel now that I’m extremely close to transferring to a four-year institution.

My social life has completely gone virtual as well. The only way I can interact with my friends is through social media and phone calls. I try to call my friends at least twice a week to keep the communication flowing. I love talking and socializing, so this pandemic is changing me in various ways.

I tend to see situations in a positive light, even if the circumstances are negative. In the past three weeks, I have been furloughed, my face-to-face education was suspended and hanging out with my friends is deemed irresponsible due to social distancing. 

However, I’ve had plenty of time to concentrate on my fashion figurine drawings, to spend quality time with my nephew, to apply for scholarships, and to dig up hobbies I had once buried. I decorated my work space, have increased by reading, and even got back into the kitchen to cook chilaquiles.

It turns out, my stress levels have decreased. This quarantine time has benefited my sense of self to remember myself. I often disregarded myself when getting highly involved in work, education and the community.

My family provides me with energy and motivation, which I am thankful for. I’m very hopeful that doctors and scientific professionals will find a cure to this bandit virus. For the meantime, stay inside, keep healthy and stay positive!

Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, youth reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by Kern Sol News, head to southkernsol.org.

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Erick Jared

"Erick Jared is a committed college student at California State University, Bakersfield. He hopes to acquire a higher education to give back to his community. He is involved in Latinos Unidos Por Educación (L.U.P.E), which encourages a higher education for all Dreamers while providing a safe space to familiarize with other Dreamers."