Life in the Time of Covid

(Facing the New Normal)

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”–Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein
One adage says that the only thing constant in this world is change. It could be classified as either positive (progressive, beneficial) or negative (destructive, damaging). Many people treat change as a welcoming experience; while others, their utter demise.

Working in the corporate world of the Philippine International Convention Center for 21 years – an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays kind of job, with timely evening and weekend overtime, will actually grow on the person. Work, in this case, is not the normal desk job. It involves not only performing administrative tasks but also sashaying through client facing and servicing, ocular inspections, actual event staging, and the after-event clear-out and inspections. Cellphone batteries are burned by the minute.

Events Management does have its own quirks and demands.

The world stopped, and suddenly tables were turned in February 2020 with the onset of the Corona Virus (COVID). In the Philippine setting, all of a sudden, clients either postponed or cancelled events; some businesses folded up; and a big number of employees were laid off. The focus was turned to the health sector in line with the treatment of, recovery from, and prevention of the spread of the COVID.

Wear a face mask and shield. Wash your hands frequently. Do not touch your face. Sanitize…
What many considered normal, is history.

As a preventive measure, health and safety precautions were set at any given establishment across the country. The citizenry was mandated to wear a face mask, topped off with a face shield for full protection and to prevent the person from touching the face. The Local Government Unit of each city issued Quarantine Passes to every household for use of the only designated member in performing tasks essential to the maintenance of the home (i.e. grocery, pharmacy, banking, payments, etc.). Travel Passes issued were for those living in the outskirts of the National Capital Region but necessarily travels back and forth for work or specific errands. Travelling for leisure is not allowed.

Physical distancing is in place to prevent face-to-face social contact. A distance of 6.5 feet or 2 meters should be maintained. Hence, mass gatherings and unnecessary crowding is prohibited by law. As a result, most companies opted for a ‘work from home’ arrangement. Due to the suspension of public transport, bicycles (battery operated or not) and motorcycles became the fashion.

Stay home! – a call imposed by the health sector paved the way for delivery/courier services to become one of the most important sectors of the society for the transport / shipping of food, personal and business packages, and at times, people who needed to go somewhere, essentially.

The occurrence of the COVID, although a bane to many, became a catalyst for some in discovering and honing skills that in turn compensated for salaries that they would have normally received. Fortunate for those employees who, despite the new work arrangement, still receive compensation, albeit sans overtime pay.
So what becomes of the lowly employee on alternate work arrangement?

She wakes up at nearly 10 a.m, squirms a little, and falls back into a short nap. She abruptly opens her eyes widely, looks at the time, and holds that stare with amazement — it’s 11 o’clock!

Her heart stops beating as she realizes it’s Monday!

To have coffee and bread or what-have-yous at almost lunchtime is far from what she knew on a normal work day. She stares at the walls and ceilings and practically do nothing. Then, sleeps very late, binge-watching movies on Netflix or anything available on the boob tube.

On other days, she does her work assignments.

Change, however form it arrives in one’s life, will shock the system at the onset. It will take a lot of adjustment and getting used to. Float with it however manner is available, but always keep an open mind and heart. It’s all a matter of perspective. It is in that way can a person regroup thoughts and plan for one’s protection, safety, as well as, life in itself, in the new normal. This is determination and resilience at its best.