Note to the reader: this post was originally written a while ago. ~220 days into the pandemic it has since been ported to this blog.
I was just about to start writing a blog post about games that would be good to play with friends remotely, when I realized that the pandemic would be an excellent thing to write about. Yes – a freaking pandemic (for anyone reading this when this is all over in the future).
As of writing this, its been 220 days since I effectively started my quarantine (on 12 March 2020), 250 days when this post goes live. The day when my boss at my current job said “Alright everyone, no more coming into the office – everyone is working from home from now on”. However, there could be other definitions of when the pandemic started:
- When COVID-19 was believed to have been transferred into humans first (December 2019),
- When it was first discovered (07 Jan 2020)
- When WHO declared it a global pandemic (11 March 2020), or
- When Canada declared it a state of emergency (17 March 2020 for Ontario).
I realize that its almost been a year now, but I’ve always wondered “Where was I when X happened”? For example: “what were you doing on 9/11?”. This is what I recall around that time. Please keep in mind that these points are what I’m recalling from a relatively long time ago, so details will be skewed, and I’m too lazy at the moment to look up the actual facts lol.
January was pretty much like any other month. There was minor talk of the new virus in the news, but it seemed to be like any other white noise in the news. Kinda like when they announce that eating too many tomatoes leads to cancer; but when you dig into it, you’ve got to basically be consuming ONLY tomatoes. It was a non-issue at the time. The WHO said the virus was “of concern”, but nothing more than that initially.
February was when things started to become different. WHO declared an epidemic, and we started seeing China take VERY drastic measures in order to prevent the spread. China went into total lockdown for a period of time. There’s a distinct video that illustrated the level of drastic changes China had to take (see below). It almost seemed staged.
At the time, the seriousness of the virus was still being downplayed. 09 Feb 2020 was when the squadron had an Aviation Day where we had travelled to CFB Trenton. The same CF base was also housing several individuals that had contracted the virus. Were people concerned that they may contract it? Not really. Another good example can be illustrated from a paraphrased quote: “The flu kills more people each year than COVID”. At the time – yes.In Canada, there was a strong focus on how the virus was being spread. Did someone contract it because they were travelling, or was it local transmission? At the time, I don’t believe the general populous really knew how it was spreading due to the heavy focus on if it was local / travel related transmission.
March was the turning point in the whole pandemic that we are experiencing today. Things went from “Just white noise on the news” to “Oh shit, things are getting serious now”. I vaguely remember the timeline, but below is a rough idea as to how things played out.
04 March 2020
My SO and I went to visit a friend of ours at a local tea shop. We’ve been there before, good tea, and great company. Everything at that point was a fiction of media.
07 March 2020
I went out with a bunch of my coworkers. I recall one mentioning they had travelled recently outside of the country. There was nothing against travel yet, but the news had started making me question if it was a good idea. I was also questioning if I was becoming similar to an anti-vaxxer where I’ve been brainwashed by the media I’ve been following, so I said nothing.
09 March 2020
I don’t recall exactly when, but my SO’s parents let us borrow one of their cars the previous weekend. Public transit was being heavily monitored as people were thinking that it was most likely one of the first places of local transmission would be (IIRC, that proved to be true – eventually someone contracted the virus, and the common factor was taking public transit). 09 March was the first day I drove to the office, instead of taking public transit. It felt liberating to finally have a vehicle, but I knew that I was in a very special circumstance. The reason why I was allowed to start driving the vehicle to work was to avoid public transit so in case I caught the virus, I wouldn’t bring it home and infect my SO.
I recall having to call one of my coworkers that drove to the office on a regular basis to get parking tips. Parking in downtown Toronto is either difficult and expensive, or very difficult but cheap. Thankfully, they managed to steer me in the right direction (pun intended). I recall distinctly having to navigate the side street mazes downtown, and my coworker waiving at me a few times indicating where a good spot was.
10 March 2020
Went to work with the vehicle for the second day. This time, allocating plenty of time to try and find parking. This was effectively my last day working in an office (as of writing this), as the following day I would work from home to drive my SO to school.
11 March 2020
As mentioned, I ended up working from home this day as I drove my SO to school. I do recall later in the evening, being in the basement of U of T near a set of elevators, waiting for their anatomy lab to end.
When we managed to go top-side again and I was able to get signal, that’s when I got an email from my boss saying that effectively immediately, everyone was to work from home.
12 March 2020
After my first day of working from home, my SO, myself, and some of our friends went to watch Hamilton in theatre. When we got there, another hint in the real world that his was quickly becoming a reality was the use of hand sanitizer all over the place. When you walked in and in the main lobby area, there were stands with hand sani.
PS. Hamilton is/was a great show.
13 March 2020
Last day of my first week working entirely from home, and the last day I drove my SO to class. From that point on, it was full quarantine. For a short while after, my coworkers and I would ask each other how many days each of us were into our version of the pandemic; how many days since we were last in the office. I usually had an extra day on everyone.
Work From Home Thoughts
I do acknowledge that I’m in a very fortunate position. I’m able to work from the comfort of my own home, I get to sleep in, and my income was unaffected. I saw the work-from-home order as a small blessing as it meant that I was no longer at risk, and my commute went from ~3 hours / day (Yes – 3 hours. 1.5 hours each way) to 0. Plus, I would no longer be spending money on fast food, but on groceries that overall were much cheaper.
Outside life in a pandemic
For a period of time after my SO and I had basically entered full lockdown, we did not need to go outside. Their parents tended to drop off care packages of food and supplies from a neighboring city that was largely unaffected. The first time we had to go to the grocery store while the lockdown was in place was shocking? Its hard to explain the experience in words, especially for someone that doesn’t write for a living.
Over the news, we had been hearing people stockpiling resources. Oddly enough, especially toilet paper. Luckily, we had received TP in one of our recent care packages, but we still decided to pick up additional groceries while we could. We decided to go to a more expensive grocery store as we had thought that there would be less people, and subsequently more resources.
We got to the grocery store and had put on our masks for the first time in public. Putting on a mask in public was strange as well. I felt as though I was acting like I was hiding something, yet everyone else was doing the same. We got to the entrance doors and had to wait to be waived in by security – almost as if the bouncers at night clubs leaked to the suburban grocery stores. Once checked in (and past the metaphorical coat check), we entered the store. It was nearly empty of product and people. There was only a small number of people allowed into the store at a time, and those that were deemed worthy enough, had to wear masks at all times. Through the grocery store were shelves sparsely stocked with shelves, and crates just dropped in the middle of aisles – grocers without enough time to place the product where they go.
Through the store, while doing your semi-regular shopping, you were reminded every 10 seconds on how to prevent the spread of the virus in the oddly-cheery woman’s voice you normally hear on the loud speakers through the store. “10% off President Choice Brands”, “Do your part and stay apart”, “Wear a face covering and sanitize regularly”. It would almost fit right into a grocery store in Fallout.
Later on in the Pandemic
Several months go by, and the virus doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. My SO and I get used to the at-home life style, and masks become a new normal. Instead of feeling weird about wearing a mask, its gotten to the point where I get angry if I see someone walking close to me, indoors, without a mask on.
Eventually my company decides that the office space is no longer needed, and decides to cancel our tenancy there. But before the office is closed, we’re allowed to pop in and grab our stuff before they completely close the office. While I wasn’t able to record a video of my last day working in the office, I managed to record a quick video as I was leaving the office space for the last time.Watch Video
Since then, the pandemic life in the 21st century has become the new normal. Working from home in whatever clothes you were wearing the night prior, seeing people in large gatherings becomes worrisome, and online shopping / food delivery has become a staple in every-day life.