I lost my campus job when the Coronavirus first hit. It was a sudden and devastating moment — I was in shock. I went without work for two months. I even filed for unemployment, but I got denied because I was a student. I found that to be so unfair and disappointing because I actually needed help.
I remember filling out questionnaires for Dunkin Donuts, Target, Hartford HealthCare, WalMart and many more. I applied to so many jobs I got sick of looking at my resume. Eventually, my job hunting skills paid off when I got a phone call from Walmart explaining to me that I got hired in April. I became an essential worker. I did not know what I was getting myself into working in a super grocery store.
Little did I know that I would be suited up with face masks and gloves working. That I would be washing my hands every chance I get because someone in my department has tested positive for COVID-19. That my hands would be dry and cracked because of how hard and often I would scrub them. That they would take my temperature everyday I would come in to ensure it was not 100 and over.
Customers coming to ask me questions ignoring the 6 feet rule would upset me on a daily basis. Our aisles are labeled with what is contained in them. A white lady once asked me “ Do you know where the Panera Bread soups are?” As if soups and canned goods aren’t already in their respective aisle! There was no need to ask me. People not practicing social distancing would trigger me. The closer they would try to come up to me, the farther I would step back trying to put more distance between myself.
This virus is a killer and I refuse to be a product of it. I have pre existing health conditions myself and I will continue to keep doing what it takes to remain healthy and strong. People are dying everyday and yet so many customers socialize in each other’s faces like there is nothing to be worried about. This makes me deeply concerned about whether the curve will be flattened.
Being paid during a time in which millions are unemployed or furloughed is a blessing, but a paycheck is not more important than my health.
Oftentimes, I find myself drifting into depression as I miss being social with friends and creating memories. I get discouraged and afraid when I see how many people of color are dying because of Coronavirus. My Black and Brown people are affected disproportionately. It is easy for my mind to wander to several negative places, but I have learned how to become hyper aware of this. I readjust my thinking into more optimistic and productive thoughts.
Despite this grim reality, I must remind myself that our society has overcome atrocities like H1N1, SARS, MRSA, and COVID-19 will be no different. As I think deeply, I tell myself that we will get through this! There will be light on the other side of this dark melancholy tunnel the world is traveling through.
Everyday I yearn to hear “Congratulations the world is free from COVID-19,” but I know that will not happen if people continue to be in large groups, not take quarantine seriously, and wear protective gear outside. Everyone has been affected by Coronavirus in some way, including myself, and I am doing everything in my power to keep myself healthy and not in the hospital. This pandemic will never be forgotten by me. It has left an imprint on my life forever.
About the Author: Shian Earlington is a Biochemistry Major at Capital Community College. Shian aspires to pursue a medical degree as a Neonatal Surgeon after completing her undergraduate requirements. She is passionate about her community and being able to help others thrive and succeed.
Copyrighted by Shian Earlington. Editorial assistance provided by Megan Brown. This work is part of the “Telling Our Covid Stories” project by the Center for Hartford Engagement and Research (CHER) at Trinity College.
As the creator of “COVID-19, The Era of the Unknown”, I agree that this is my original work, and that I retain the copyright. Also, I grant permission for this work to be distributed with my full name to the public, including formats such as print and the Internet. Under this agreement, I keep the copyright to my work, but agree to share it under a Creative Commons Attribution—NonCommercial—NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (BY-NC-ND). This allows the public to freely download and share my work, but only if they credit the creator, use it for non-commercial purposes, and do not make any changes. Learn more about Creative Commons licenses at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/