People used to know me as many things; I was a sports commentator, racing mechanic, ESPN employee, fry cook, and a Domino’s delivery driver. Yes, I know that seems like a lot. A nineteen year old first-year college student with five jobs? Ridiculous! But at one point this was genuinely the case and all of that seems like ages ago now. Currently, I am unemployed, broke, and in the middle of a fourteen day lockdown quarantine thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak.
I’m living in my family home with two parents, brother, and sister. My mom has a heart condition and my dad has compromised lungs, putting both at high risk if they were to contract the Coronavirus. We knew COVID-19 was becoming a more serious threat on March 11th when the NBA, NHL, and MLB all suspended their seasons.
The first of my jobs to go was my ESPN job. At the time, I was already home on spring break, enjoying some much needed time off. Within days, I had received an email from the coordinating producer of the ACC Network that my services as a student employee would no longer be necessary for the rest of the semester. Practically all sporting events were canceled and my peers and I had been instructed not to return to Grounds. While it sucked that I had lost one of my more interesting jobs, the silver lining was that I at least had four jobs left.
Well, that was true until the racing world got hit. Racing was one of the last sports to go, so naturally, I held out hope that maybe some form of these events would continue, even if in a limited capacity. Not even a day after losing my ESPN job, a lot of the national racing events were called off. Each of my bosses had called me to break the bad news. Now, they did give me a ray of hope and told me if the events were to be postponed, they would still retain my services. But, for the time being, all three of the racing series I had been employed to commentate for had been postponed indefinitely, with the outlook for a return being extremely grim. I had just lost another job, leaving me with three left.
When commentary went out the door, being a mechanic followed suit. One of the commentating bosses also happens to manage the series that I mechanic in. He let me know that the cancelation of this series’ opener was imminent and practically unavoidable. Just a day after I had been let go as a sports commentator, and two days after my ESPN layoff, my mechanics job disappeared into thin air. The manager of the go-karting team I worked for texted me the bad news, revealing that he no longer needed mechanics for the team because driver entries were down significantly. Demand going down didn’t really matter in the end, because shortly thereafter the cancelation announcement was made. As with my commentating gigs, there is still hope for the series to occur in the future, but with coronavirus having no signs of slowing, it looked like I’d just have to live with two jobs.
Or so I thought. I truly believed my fry cook job back here in good ole’ New Jersey would be a job I could not lose. Food is a human necessity and I thought the demand for restaurant food would remain high, especially with grocery stores being understocked and high risk for coronavirus transmission. I was sorely mistaken. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy soon enacted a stay-at-home order, demanding all non-essential business close. He included restaurants in ‘non-essential’, but maintained that they could remain open in a carry-out or delivery capacity. But that wasn’t enough to save my job. Like many other businesses, the bar I worked at had to lay people off. Since it wasn’t essential that I had a job, seeing that I still live with my parents who provide for me, I was one of the first employees to go. As seems to be a reoccurring theme, I was told I could return once things stabilized whenever that was. I had officially managed to lose four jobs in four days.
I still had Domino’s left, and it was a solid gig. But there’s a twist. I wasn’t laid off; I quit. The delivery gig was the newest of my jobs, but I really enjoyed it. It was easy, relaxing, and involved driving around for hours on end. I didn’t come in contact with a lot of people, which was a big positive with coronavirus spreading like wildfire. The specific chain I worked at did everything right. People were religiously washing their hands, adopted masks, and sanitized every hour. Domino’s even closed its doors to customers and instituted contactless delivery. Drivers and employees had as little contact as possible with people. My parents made me strip to my underwear immediately upon entering the house and put my clothes in the washer. Then, I drank a cup of a hot drink, followed by a long shower. This was to try and ensure the safety of me and my family, but even these extreme precautions still weren’t enough. About a week ago now, it was revealed that one of the delivery drivers had contracted COVID-19. Upon hearing the news, I decided enough was enough. I told the manager I was leaving because I could not afford the risk. I didn’t really need the money; As mentioned above, I have a stable family to fall back on. And, I can’t afford to contract COVID-19. With my dad’s compromised lungs and my mom’s heart condition, which are two of the most devastating underlying conditions to pair with coronavirus, continuing to work was simply a stupid idea. I had to make a tough decision, but nothing is worth my family’s safety.
And after all that, now I’m here: sitting in my dark bedroom about a week into my fourteen day quarantine period. I started my lockdown immediately upon hearing about the contraction of my colleague. My mom and dad bring me meals on a prison-like tray, knock on my door, and leave it outside. I eat alone in my room and watch T.V. Once a day, I have my mom open the front door, and go right outside. This is the only time I get to leave my room except to go to the bathroom. I usually spend it driving around with the windows down, and quite frankly, it has been one of the only things maintaining my sanity. I keep my shoes in my car because I can’t go anywhere else in the house with them. I’ve now watched all of Drake and Josh, Designated Survivor, and Top Gear. I’ve played more hours of Forza and Call of Duty in the past week than I have in the past year. I’m bored, frustrated, and jobless. So, if you ever decide to question social distancing, or think ‘this will never happen to me’, remember, it can happen to anyone. Even people with five jobs.