Sunday, March 22, 2020

COVID-19 Diaries: Now That I’m an Essential Worker…

I’m going to start all my sentences with “As an essential worker.” Especially at work, where they are definitely not going to give me hazard pay, and they probably won’t even give me a badge that says “ESSENTIAL WORKER” but, as an essential worker, I deserve at least that.

If you read my last post, you’d know that I’m not a truly essential worker, like a grocery store clerk, a gas station attendant, a trucker, or a medical professional. I’m a creatively essential worker, which means that my right to continue living and enjoying my current level of freedom from major organ damage does not supersede my employer’s right to avoid the slight inconvenience of allowing me to proofread their documents from the safety of my home. As an essential worker, I cannot wait for the class-action lawsuit I'm going to benefit from in five to ten years if I survive the next 18 months. I'm already making plans for how I'm going to spend my $0.53.

I thought for a hot minute that I was maybe going to get to work from home at least half the time, when my boss sent out an email saying that we were going to an intermittent telecommuting schedule with half the team working from home one week and then swapping out with the other half the next week, but then I was informed in a second communiqué that my department is deemed essential and that I will not be allowed to work from home at all.

My boss has said that since I have “general concerns” about contracting COVID-19 due to mine and my husband’s histories of respiratory issues, I can take two weeks of PTO and then go on unpaid time. I asked if they would at least move my desk to comply with CDC recommendations that people maintain six feet of distance from one another. I told them I would come back when my desk has been moved. So far, I’ve been out for three days. It’ll be four days tomorrow because they still haven’t moved my desk yet. They have said they are moving everyone’s desks, which honestly is not a bad idea if they’re going to insist we come in. As an essential worker, I had expected them to have done it last week, and I had been prepared to go in tomorrow and risk a horrible, lonely death for $14.79 an hour and benefits, but then they told me they had not moved the desks yet, so here we are. As an essential worker, I'm taking it one day at a time, like an alcoholic. That's just one thing that I, as an essential worker, have in common with alcoholics, by which I mean, I need a drink.

Most of my company’s other employees have been put on work from home already, so at least they won’t be milling around the building, breathing on us. As an essential worker, I find this both comforting and infuriating. As an essential worker, I want to get breathed on as little as possible at this juncture, so I plan to avoid the break rooms and elevators. As an essential worker, I know I won’t get breathed on in the stairwell because they are mostly used as dust bunny storage.

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Actual photo of one of the dust bunnies.
Image by Eponimm on Wikimedia Commons

As an essential worker, I’ll probably make my own cold brew coffee to take in with me so I don’t have to touch the possibly contaminated Starbucks coffee maker in the definitely contaminated break room, the silver lining of which will be that I won’t have to drink Starbucks coffee. One of my three dozen cousins suggested that I go to work in a Hazmat suit and spray anyone who gets close to me with Lysol, but alas, even if I had a Hazmat suit handy – and as an essential worker, I could probably improvise one out of garbage bags and duct tape – there is no Lysol to be had. If I could get my hands on it, I’d be using it to disinfect my mail, not wasting it harassing my coworkers, who, let’s be honest, are also victims in this. Someone else suggested a Super Soaker full of cat pee, and as luck would have it, I do have access to a few sources of cat pee – but honestly, I feel like the situation really calls for a flame thrower. As an essential worker, I would like to burn it all down.

Of course, I can’t do that, for legal reasons.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

This Might Be My Last Blog Post

Ha ha ha I bet you guys thought I had already made my last blog post. Well, SYKE, SUCKAS, I’m back! But I might not be back for long, because while my friends in France and Italy have been placed under a total lockdown, the Bay Area has been asked to shelter in place, the White House has asked Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, and West Virginia has declared a state of emergency and closed bars, clubs, and casinos, with the governor calling for residents to maintain six feet of distance between one another, my bosses called a meeting today to let us know that we’ll be coming into the office every day until the building has been closed due to contamination. Of course we didn’t use the conference room, because we’re social distancing.

Ask me how salty I am about this.

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Answer: About five times this salty.
Image by Lexlex, from Wikimedia Commons

Don’t worry, we have a responsibility to the company not to get sick, so it’ll be fine. They passed out hygiene instructions and little bottles of hand sanitizer, so we have everything we need.

No, but seriously, I’m actually afraid for my life and my families’ lives. I emailed my manager and told her that I’m afraid to come in, but no dice, I can't work from home yet, but I can use PTO. I mean, I'm a proofreader, so that's totally reasonable, given the circumstances. Of course, she invited me to come and talk to her in person about my concerns, but I don’t trust myself not to get myself fired, seeing as how I have fallen back into my old stress-habit of yelling at people (sorry, Jim), so here we are.

I mean, if this blog post goes viral or something – pun intended – I’m definitely getting fired anyway, but at least then I can set up a GoFundMe. Honestly, I always thought I’d go out the red-blooded American way – by getting shot. I never expected this. Then again, none of us did. Well, probably some of us did, but we can’t all be virologists.

Jim thinks I should use my PTO (which I know I am lucky to have, because capitalism could quite frankly be digging its own grave a little faster if you ask me) to take a mental health day, which is legit, because I have OCD (the diagnosable mental disorder, not the trendy colloquialism) and let me tell you, this pandemic thing is not helping my symptoms. I feel slightly better today now that our local hospital is finally going to start testing anyone with symptoms for COVID-19, which means that they actually can detect a positive case in the building, so they actually might close the barn door after the horse has developed a high fever and a dry cough. But I hesitate to use any of my sick days because, well, I’ll probably be getting sick soon, and Jim and I just got back a month ago from what may be among the most perfectly timed vacations in the world, so I’ve already used a week of my time this year. 

At least Jim has been sent to work from home. He must work for a much better company than I do, you ask? No, we work for the same company. He just has a different boss. Fuck my life.

And give to my GoFundMe.