A little snapshot of what life has been like in NYC as news and fears spread and anxiety rises across the Big Apple from Monday March 9 – Friday March 13 ?
Preview: Monday 2nd – Sunday 8th March
People are still out and about, shopping, getting lunch, having coffee catchups etc but there is absolutely no hand sanitizer, disinfectant or wipes available at any CVS or Pharmacy (we checked daily). Life is normal with a few additional face masks spotted here or there.
WFH Day #1
Monday, 9th March 2020
UGH! I finally get to join a team based in New York City and then the hub shuts down. But wow. So lucky to be at a company who actually uphold their core values, who believe in the wellbeing of their employees and who actually do what they say. There are other companies across America telling that their staff have no choice and have to report into work. But for us, it’s work from home for the month of March. Unfortunately our NYC shoebox apartment doesn’t really cater for three people to be working from it all day every day; my bro who is in town during the WFH announcement very quickly lost his “bedroom”. Space is tight, but work commitments continue and we carry on. Unfortunately some sales teams didn’t quite understand the why behind social distancing and continue to drive onsite meetings (?) … but i’m sure they’ll figure out what asymptomatic means soon enough.
Accidentally worked for 8 hours without moving once away from the computer. Skipped lunch, didn’t get any water, looked up and it was 6pm. Realized that I have to schedule breaks throughout my work days at home.
Started a diet for the wedding. Trying to figure out if the WFH situation is going to help or hinder efforts. So far with the lack of movement, 100% hindering, but am determined to change that tomorrow.
WFH Day #2
Tuesday, 10th March 2020
Same same really but with more breaks. No big deal, just wash your hands for 20 seconds and give them a good scrub. Went for a walk around the block and no one is out who looks sick (ie no one is coughing or sneezing) which is good. Everyone seems to be ok but people are stocking up. No hand sanitizer anywhere in New York City, but as expected I guess. Most long life food is scarce (i.e. all the pasta shelves were bare yesterday) but went back to the shops today and the pasta had been restocked.
WFH Day #3
Wednesday 11th March
It’s getting tight in our little shoebox apartment. Went to Central Park for a run and it was gorgeous. A lot of people walking, running, getting some much needed sunshine after the winter seems to finally be leaving us. People are still out and about walking their dogs. If someone had just arrived in NYC and hadn’t been aware of any news, i’m sure the last thing to cross their minds would be that we’re in a state of emergency. Saw a cute Labrador puppy outside but refrained from patting until we’re for sure certain that the Big C can’t be passed from dogs to humans.
It’s the last night with my bro in town so we all had a chat and decided we felt okay to go out for a local bite for tucker. We headed out (hand sanitizer in hand) and the streets were quieter than usual (still not quiet though) and the traffic was definitely lighter. Dinner was great; we walked in, took two pumps of the provided hand sanitizer each, took a look at the menu, ordered, and then each went to the bathrooms to wash our hands. The restaurant was about 45% capacity, the staff were super friendly (perhaps a touch concerned?), very hygienic and the food was delicious. We headed home just in time to see P. Donald address the nation re. the Big C. He banned all travel from Europe into USA (excluding the UK ??♀️?).
WFH Day #4
Thursday 12th March
Ok guys. Shit has officially hit the fan. There was a panic at one of our offices in Atlanta, that someone in the building had the Big C, everyone panicked, got their shit and ran out of the building.
We’re in an unusual position as we have family in both Australia and Europe and live in the USA so have access to the different messages being conveyed across the world. So when we called home to Europe this afternoon, apparently the whole European Union woke up PISSED OFF because of what P. Donald had said the night before; essentially blaming Europe for the outbreak (?), and for not including the UK in the travel bans, when reports of the Big C in the UK are higher than in some countries in Europe AND for the fact that he hadn’t communicated to the European Union that that’s what he was planning on doing. So our family in Europe was pissed. If Europe can’t travel to USA will Europe be able to travel to AUS?
We call home Australia and try to get a lay of the land for what’s going on there. Remi’s mum tells us that Aus is talking about closing their boarders and not letting anyone in. Additionally and (for me) surprisingly (because they are so clean, almost to the point of being sterile), Switzerland actually has a high infection rate being so close to Italy.
If AUS closes their boarders to Europe then Remi’s family can’t travel in for the wedding. If they close the boarders based on the state of the USA and how they’re currently “handling” the pandemic (they’re officially doing jack shit); then they’d have to include USA in the travel bans too. So we won’t be able to travel home for the wedding either.
We get word from a friend whose husband works in breaking news here in Manhattan telling us that Manhattan is going to go into lockdown, meaning no one is going to be allowed in or out of the city.
Read a doctors account from Italy explaining they can’t treat people over 65 and just have to let them die. Remi tells me his stepdad, who had previously been unrattled by the Big C, received an email from a surgeon in Italy telling them that SHIT.IS.BAD. (Lucy – who I call a little later, confirms her dad received a similar email), so suddenly, everyone was starting to take things more seriously.
We review the fridge stock. Decide we could do with more food if shit is going to escalate fast, if the city is going to go into total lockdown and if we might not be able to get out of our shoebox apartment. I’m staring into the fridge when things start falling into place. No going home in April. No seeing my family. No wedding. These x4 walls for the next forever.
My stomach sinks and a mixture of fear, realization and uncertainty rolls over me and I cannot stop crying. OK time to call mum. Open with “we’re probably going to have to postpone the wedding” through sobs and mum thinks it’s not a bad idea at this stage. She’s on a plane back to Adelaide from the Melbourne fashion festival but tells me to call dad because he’s been on the ground in Hong Kong when SARS broke out and if there’s anyone who knows their shit in a time of panic it’s dad. Finish feeling a bit reassured about the wedding because mum highlighted that we want to have a party! & no one’s going to be in the mood for a party if they think they can catch a deadly virus. ?
Call dad. Totally chill. Snacking on peanut butter, honey and toast; his usual go-to. The familiar routine is instantly soothing. Talk about the travel restrictions, boarders closing and postponing the wedding. Agree it’s probably the most sensible thing to do at this stage. Feeling reassured, much more relaxed but still like i’ve been kicked in the guts.
We decide we should make one more run to the shops before things escalate even further. Its 8pm, we arrive at Trader Joes on the Upper West Side to get whatever is left and there’s a 1.5 hour wait for the checkout. We pick up x3 shopping baskets because all the trolleys are gone. We look around and the long life food stock is low. Canned food is out. Pasta is out. Frozen food, gone. We picked up what was left and went to level #2, downstairs. What we didn’t realize was that the line for the checkout started at the bottom level of the supermarket, snaked ALL around the aisles downstairs and they were letting people upstairs to join the line, that snaked all through the aisles upstairs before you reached the checkout.
I wanted to document, however between touching the shopping baskets & picking up tinned and boxed food I was determined not to touch my phone. So we stocked up on what was left. We wait 1.5 hours in the line and get to the cashier to experience the SLOWEST checkout process ever. We walk home carrying x5 bags of shopping; everyone is looking at us with a bit of panic in their eyes; they’re also doing the same thing and carrying the same amount. We walk home without saying a word to each other. Get home, unpack and call Mum to update her on the food situation.
Then i call my girlfriend Lucy who is in NYC on vacay visiting from Australia who we had Friday night dinner plans with. Tell her about the warning we got on the potential lockdown. They call QANTAS to get on the first flight out of here but are on hold for a full 8 hours. Catchup on the phone and send hugs, kisses and safe travel wishes.
Wedding is looking to be postponed so diet is off. Tuck into x2 blocks of chocolate and spend the night watching the news. *note to self: do not participate in such destructing behavior for AT LEAST a few more days*
Friday 13th March, 2020
- x2 weeks ago we were getting advised to stock up on food for a x2 week supply.
- Last week we were getting advised to stock up for a months worth of supplies and a couple of months worth of any prescription medicine.
- Early this week we were being advised to stock up on a few months worth of supplies.
- Last night the mayor of NYC told us that we’re going to experience food shortages and long term effects of this virus, possibly up to 6 months.
- Today we’re being told through press conferences, the media and online articles that this new normal could last anywhere from 6 months to a year.
So we definitely don’t have a years supply of food in this tiny shoebox apartment.
My biggest fear is that this is going to get totally and uncontrollably out of hand, we’ll be stuck alone in America, with fears of recession and absolutely no way of getting home (especially if things escalate there). The USA have been way too slow to act on anything. We’re apparently following the trajectory of Italy and we’re just 10 days behind, but without any changes, help, measures, rules, advice, etc. All we know is that P. Donald has been exposed to COVID19 and continues to shake hands with everyone while telling us to ignore the news. What a world. I just want to get on a plane and go home.
National State of Emergency Announcement. Feel good that there’s something happening, even though we know it’s way too late.
And to end the week on a high, the Australians in NYC Facebook page is blowing up about leaving or staying.
Saturday 14th March
Woke up to a gorgeous day in NYC. Remi headed out for coffee with some long-lost cousins from Switzerland who had been touristing around the city. For me, that was a HARD NO. So I started cleaning up the apartment, dusted every nook and cranny, chucked my workout gear on, popped on some good tunes and headed to Riverside Park for a long walk in the sunshine.
Got back to the apartment, discovered some great new tunes on Spotify and downloaded the Pigment iPad App which lets you colour in pictures (with my new Apple Pencil). I found it very therapeutic even though the end product looked like Unicorns poop (see below). Remi got the keyboard out for the first time in about a year and started practicing again and I danced around to Guns and Roses to please the activity tracker on my Apple Watch.
Our neighbor pops in, letting us know he thought he had the Big C last week (but who knows if there’s no tests, RIGHT MURICA?) and we close the door pretty quickly. Bounced back okay and feeling prepared to bunker down for the next whatever.