I Got Laid Off Due to COVID-19

I’m doing my absolute best to remain calm. We’ve seen before that I’m not good at dealing with A) change, B) financial insecurity, or C) anxiety. So, this is a trying time for me. I’m trying to remind myself that I’m with my family and, if I do get sick, I have them. I’m trying to remind myself that my parents have already offered to help me out with my bills through the end of my lease; if it came to that, of course.

Life’s little St. Patrick’s Day gift to me and my coworkers was the restaurant most of us have called home for 30+ hours a week to-go food only. No dine-in guests means no servers and no tips. . Plainly put, the restaurant doesn’t need us right now. As of March 17th, I have been laid off from my job. I’ll have one more paycheck before I no longer have an income.

For all intents and purposes, I’m fine. I’m okay. I’m trying to remind myself that I’m with my family and, if I do get sick, I have them. I’m trying to remind myself that my parents have already offered to help me out with my bills through the end of my lease; if it comes to that, of course. Sure, I’ll be in a financially uncomfy spot for a while. I also might go a little loco inside my childhood home for the foreseeable future. However, I don’t have a family to support. I don’t have a mortgage. I don’t have to provide food for anyone. I don’t have crazy loans… well, hold up, I do actually. But, they’re from school,  which means they can be postponed in situations like this.

Am I scared? Fuck yes. Am I nervous about what my life is going to look like in a month? Absolutely. Am I getting more and more anxious about this as information is released? For sure. I have not, however, had an anxiety attack. Every time I feel it coming on, I remind myself that I’m blessed for the position that I’m in. Though I’m absolutely allowed to feel nervous and validated in my fear, there are others who have less resources and less support.

I work with people whose entire livelihood is dependent on the business of the restaurant. They work at 3 jobs, all of which have been closed due to the spread of this terrible virus. Missing even one paycheck is going to be detrimental to their entire family. I have the option to apply for unemployment. For one reason or another, not everyone does. I have two parents who have a lot of job security right now that can offer me my old room back. They want me to temporarily move in and depend on them until all of this passes. They have the ability to help me with bills as I start to chip away at the money I’ve saved. Moral of the story: I’m okay. Others are not. Others need as much help and resources as they possibly can get.

COVID-19 is truly scaring the shit out of me. In the last 36 hours, our cases have doubled in Wisconsin. No, I’m not scared of getting sick because as the media says, I would probably be fine as a young, decently-healthy person. I have had a gnarly cough for about a month that feels exactly like the bronchitis I had at this time last year, so I know my lungs are feeling a little tired. Even after that, I’m still not scared of getting the virus. I’m scared for my mom, who has been working tirelessly to keep an assisted living facility on lockdown. I’m scared for my grandma and uncle who are extremely immunocompromised. I’m scared for my friends that take medications every day, which might make them an easier target for all of this.

As it has with the majority of victims, the infection will pass. The thing that keeps me up at night is life just grinding to a halt because no one really knows what to do. The panic that everyone is exhibiting is what goes on inside an anxious person’s mind at a majority of times. Usually, though, we can watch normal life occurring around us and use coping mechanisms to calm ourselves down. In this space, there’s no reassurance from the outside. Everyone is just as scared as you are. No one knows what to do just like you don’t really know what to do. It makes me nervous that American’s panic is not being met with secure plans of action or support for those out of a job. American’s don’t even have the privilege of believing their executive branch because it’s stance goes from “not a real threat” to “always knew it was going to be dangerous” in just a matter of days.

Panic comes from fear. There’s not a lot of things that are strong enough to fight that force besides kindness, patience, and empathy. This is not the time to point fingers at people across the world who are experiencing loss and uncertainty at rates even higher than we are. This is not the time to stimulate the bank accounts of people with millions of dollars, but the time to ensure that working class Americans don’t lose their homes or starve to death. This is not the time for a “every man for himself” mentality, but for us to help those in our community with any resources we might have a surplus of – even if that surplus is just positivity in the face of so much chaos.

So, yes. I was one of the thousands of Americans that was laid off from their job as coronavirus rages through each state. I’m one of the thousands that’s looking to our leaders for support, whether it be financial, information, or physical.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. My absolute favorite line in The Lion King is “I know that the clouds will clear and that the sun will shine.” This will pass. It may not seem like it now. It might get much, much worse before it gets any better. Until then, reach out to your loved ones, read a book, do a puzzle, listen to my podcast, learn a new language, play a video game. If the government urging you to do so isn’t enough, stay home because it keeps people that are at larger risk of dying from this disease safe from transmission that you may or may not be feeling. If that’s not enough, stay home because it sets an example for those around you that you give a fuck about this. And if that’s not enough…. Stay home because it might allow people like me and my coworkers to get back to work faster.

Keep up with my social distancing on all forms of social media (@EmyDBlog on Insta, Twitter, and Facebook). If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of this, please don’t hesitate to reach out! If you want to chat with me via email, you can do so at emydsaliby@gmail.com.