Although I have been self-isolating since the beginning of March, Attila has had to go to work, and out to buy groceries. When he ventured out for food he wore clothes that were removed and washed immediately, wore gloves, and a face mask. But at work, these precautions were not possible. Working cheek by jowl at the plant where he worked felt dangerous. It was dangerous. When a cold/flu (everyone thought it was a cold/flu) spread quickly through the plant, Attila caught it. That was early in March, he was off one day without pay, to sleep and recuperate. One of his work mates eneded up in hospital. So we knew that if the virus arrived at the plant, the chances of getting it were very high. Then two managers returned from out-of-country flights, and came to work. Horrifying and negligent in my opinion. All of these things have made the month of March a time of extreme worry, and desperate strategizing.
Then, the week before last, they laid people with less seniority (younger people) off. They did not accept the requests of those more senior employees that wanted to be chosen for layoff, so that they could self-isolate and keep themselves and their families safe. Attila and I were horrified at the lack of humanity of the decision to reject volunteers for layoff, on the part of the employer. So Attila arranged to use his vacation time to stay home and self-isolate. This past week, although we have enjoyed his time off, we also felt the increasing dread of his needing to go back to work. We talked for hours, trying to figure out a way to survive financially, and stay safe. Finally we decided to risk everything if we had to, to self-isolate.
Last night Attila received notice that he too had been laid off work, indefinitely. I burst into tears when he relayed the news to me. We have been so frightened, for so long, that this sudden, very welcome development felt like being reprieved from a death sentence. Attila will receive Employment Insurance, our income will fall drastically, and our chances of living through this crisis has been optimized.
Last night he did all the “paperwork” requested by the employer and the government. We were both exhausted, tense, and emotional. He got the job done, what a relief.
Attila described the last few months as feeling as if he was being pushed, hard, and that the pressure increased gradually, relentlessly, to become quite intense. The pressure required increasing internal resources to remain balanced and upright. The news last night instantly removed the pressure, but the resistance didn’t disappear immediately. That pretty much described what I have been experiencing as well, as we have watched the virus begin to colonize the inadequately-lead human populations around the world, pressure has been mounting for us, as we have struggled to keep ourselves safe.
Last night Attila and I were faced with the sudden removal of a dire threat, we were stunned. We did not immeiately adjust to the vacuum left when the pressure was removed. We kept our routine, went to bed, and to sleep at our regular time. But within an hour we were both wide awake and restless. We needed time to take stock of our situation, to explore our new, less terrifying situation, to allow the new reality to sink in.
We puttered about into the wee hours of the night. Attila spent his time reviewing his basement projects. I spent my time cancelling things. I had already cancelled Netflix, but we had a few more monthly bills that are fluff, and won’t be affordable on our new budget. One was my audible account, which I have enjoyed immensely, it is just not a viable expense at the moment. Another was Attila’s cell phone, which is an emergency phone only, needed while he had to work. I reduced that bill to a minimum, $7 per month, and removed the method of payment, so that no more billing will come through, we are already running a credit of over $90, so it will be at least 7 months before we have to make a decision about the cell phone, and we will know more about how we will be situated at that time.
So here we are, the two of us alone in our bubble. But we aren’t alone, not really, there are many other people, all over the planet, in their bubbles. It is a new kind of “we”.
We don’t know what our future holds, if Attila will be called back to work before the dangers have passed, if we will become seriously ill, if our friends and loved ones will become seriously ill. These concerns remain, as they do for everyone.
As part of my efforts to regain equilibrium, I decided to try a new recipe today. I am making a loaf of no knead bread, for the first time. The time-of-use billing for hydro has been suspended for 45 days, starting on the 24th of March I believe. This means I can use the daylight hours to do projects relying on electricty, instead of postponing them until the weeked. The usuall price for on-peak use if over 20 cents per kWh, and the current special price is 10 cents per kWh, half price. I love being able to get things done during the weekdays!
And Attila, well he is out there in the garden, where else!
Stay safe dear friends!
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Saturday 28 March 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Dew point: -1.3°C
Wind: ENE 12 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
“Life is constantly providing us with new funds, new resources, even when we are reduced to immobility. In life’s ledger there is no such thing as frozen assets.”
1891 – 1980