people still working outside your home: this thread is for you

A reader writes:

Can I make a request for a thread dedicated for anyone working on the frontlines (medical or not — anyone whose job makes it possible/easier for others to stay at home) and how they’ve been handling things? All I see on the news and social media are things like “8 tips for being productive when working from home!”

This pandemic is hard on all of us in different ways, and I don’t want to minimize that — suffering is not a competition. I want anyone who can stay ay home right now to be doing so, and I know that comes with its own challenges. But I’ve been feeling really disconnected with friends and family lately who are at home, while I’m still going into to work and making hard decisions about how to help keep others safe with far too few resources, all while potentially putting my own health on the line. I could really use a space to connect with other frontline workers right now who aren’t my coworkers, even though my coworkers have been great, and I’ve had a hard time finding that.

Yes, absolutely. People who are still working in places that are not your home: The comment section on this post is for you. What’s helping? What’s not going well? What do you want people to know?

{ 779 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    This is a thread for people who still need to work outside their homes. Comments scolding them for doing so will be removed (and I will be strongly disappointed in anyone who does that).

  2. Healthcare Worker*

    It sucks. Our bodies have a fight, flight, or freeze mentality to danger and walking into a situation daily means that you are having to ignore all of that. I work in a house of essential workers who are leaving every day. We are all on the brink of breakdown constantly.

    I do feel free left out of a lot of commentary of the working at home. In a lot of works, my daily is still normal. Get up, go to work, cook dinner, etc. Just with a huge dark cloud over my head.

    1. Amity*

      Several of my coworkers described it as feeling similar to the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s business as usual for us during that week (we’re open and working regular hours, but so many other places are closed that it just feels different somehow).

      Sending sunshine to help dissipate that dark cloud. : )

      1. Lab Tech*

        It’s interesting because the majority of my company is working remotely…but there are shifts to move certain projects forward (we’re biotech, so essential – but the company is being cautious and trying to minimize in-person work activities whenever possible).

        I was aching to go back in because I thought it would provide a glimpse of normal life vs endless 14+hour days when working remotely. I’ll say that I went in twice this week, and those days (while providing respite from the super long wfh days) didn’t feel “normal”. It’s impossible to go out and feel like it’s normal life…but it’s easier to get lost in lab work in person

        1. WellRed*

          I am WFH, but I thought I’d stick it out at the office for another day. However, with no one else there and the empty roads and closed businesses, I didn’t want to be there.

      2. Purple*

        That is so apt. It’s like I’m working but mentally I’m barely there. I want to be home with everyone else.

      1. MommyMD*

        This. I’m a front liner. I’m very careful. I’m not scared. I do my best to protect myself. More worried about my kids and parents. Dealing with it all day at work. That is my job and I’m fine with it. Several text updates every off day is a bit draining because I never get a break from it. But it’s my job and that’s that. I’ve noticed patients have been much nicer. Masking up and going to get needed grocery supplies kind of helps me. I don’t know why.

    2. Healthcare Worker*

      I have been making a point to post on social media every day or two something interactive that is innocuous but positive. (Today for instance is what is your fashion don’t that you won’t give up.) I’m not ignoring the situation, but I am working to be positive. Also, I encourage anyone in that situation to snooze people on social media as appropriate for your personal sanity.

      1. Red Stapler*

        I snoozed my best friend(!) on facebook because she anxiety-posts even in good times, and right now is DEFINITELY not good times so it’s up 300-fold. I got really tired of reading fringe science and all the alarmist projections that may or may not have actual science behind them. So I muted her. And it’s fine. We still text and chat, but I don’t even think she’s noticed I have no idea what she’s doing on fb.

    3. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      I agree on the feeling of being left out of the commentary about working from home or being stuck at home. Not that I’m not intensely grateful to have a job and to have the option of continuing to come to the office, but the sense that there’s this massive shared experience going on that I’m not part of is definitely present as well.

      1. Arnon*

        I’m sorry, but you choosing to go to the office is not the same thing as being an essential frontline worker who can’t avoid it.

        1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

          While my employer offers the option, for disability-related reasons it’s not a good idea for me to take it. Don’t be a jerk.

        2. DireRaven*

          What about those of us who have the capability of working from home, but boss refuses to allow it, insisting on butts in chair? After going through a bunch of stuff setting up and verifying our ability to work from home. I think it is so they can justify the office space rental. At this point, even though I’m rather upset about it, I don’t want to make waves and they decide to just let me go.

          (I feel it is becoming very much an employer’s market…)

          1. Flustered*

            This is the situation that I’m in, except it’s not my direct boss who is making us go in, but our corporate headquarters. The corporate leadership has been working from home for the past month, and they have no idea the amount of fear we experience having to go into work everyday. It’s like they’re completely insulated from everything. This has made me lose a lot of faith in my employer. If they are so nonchalant about our health during the Spring 2020 wave of COVID, will they act the same way if COVID returns in the fall/winter? It makes me want to go on a job search so I don’t have to experience the anxiety all over again come the fall. However due to the economic crash, I’m not sure how successful my job search would be.

            1. Liane*

              This kind of c–p reminds me of the stuff some companies/bosses pull during severe weather–staying home cozy & safe while insisting the underlings show up or else. I guess that’s where they got the idea.

              1. Flustered*

                “It’s not that bad, just allow extra time to get to work in case the roads are slippery” – says the executive who hasn’t had to drive to work during a snowstorm for the past 10 years.

                1. JessaB*

                  And it’s worse if you live a distance away. When last I worked in an office I was 45 minutes away on a perfect drive. There’d be blue skies and clear weather by the office, there’d be a deluge with trees down in my town. Trying to explain to the bosses, why no I can’t come in even though everyone else is. Those that work in the same town or worked north of it had the same clear weather. Or my town would have a no travel because of a hurricane, and the office was in a fine place.

                  I hope those who have to go into work whether on the front lines or not, stay as safe and as positive as they can (I know not everyone can be.) I hope you’re all alright.

            2. SM*

              My company is doing this too. I’m considered essential even though my position itself isn’t, my company is and I must be working in the office if they’re open. They are giving no “free days” and expect things to move on as normal. They’ve done nothing to help prevent spread–no “we understand and care for our employees” emails or “do xyz according to the CDC.” Nothing. Zip. We were given sanitizers or anything either. We had to find our own if we could.

              I hate the company I work for now. They weren’t fantastic to begin with, but now… now I am so disgusted and disppointed they are so willing to risk our lives and health. I want to get out asap, but now… with how everything is… I feel more stuck there now than I ever have before. I’m scared going to work because my boss and everyone up the chain isn’t taking this virus seriously. I’m made fun of even because I’ve put up signs to say 6FT apart and to wash/use sanitizer.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Alison said this is for anyone still working in a place not their home. There is no requirement as to why.
          Please be kind.

        4. MommyMD*

          I don’t have a choice in my narrative but I thank the universe every day for my job and would not have it any other way.

      2. AnonLurker Appa*

        Not that I’m not intensely grateful to have a job and to have the option of continuing to come to the office, but the sense that there’s this massive shared experience going on that I’m not part of is definitely present as well.

        ^^ This

        1. Lonely Aussie*

          This is how I’m feeling and it’s so conflicting, on one hand thrilled to still be employed, on the other nothing much has really changed aside from the extra cleaning, people staying out of my space and the constant dark cloud

      3. Chinookwind*

        My husband pointed out to me that he wished I had the time off I had, which shut me up. I honestly forgot he has to go into work and interact with people who now see spitting on a cop as an alternative to throwing a punch (thiugh it now gets your charged with assault and breaking quarantine since, if you are positive, you are suppose to be home) with the added bonus of no coffee woth coworkers or being able to go into the office.

        His stress has played out in him being overly cautious about when/where his mother and I go out. I understand but it is exhausting and stifling.

    4. Beth*

      Yes, all this! Even when the mechanics of work are just like they were pre-covid, the crisis adds a heavy psychological and emotional toll to every waking minute. The first week of going to work while the rest of the state was in lockdown, I couldn’t understand why I was wiped out at the end of every day, why I was always hungry, why it was so hard to focus at work, why I had no energy for anything.

      I’ve fought depression my entire life. The fight is pretty much the same at present, but the depression I have to fight is much darker.

      1. Volunteer Enforcer*

        I can relate, my emotional and mental health, energy and appetite have been all over the place too. Sending virtual hugs.

        1. Happy Lurker*

          Thanks for saying this! Between the black cloud comment, Beth’s and Volunteer Enforcer, I don’t feel so alone.
          I honestly could not figure out how lucky I am to work as an essentail employee, but feel so awful at the same time.

          1. I coulda been a lawyer*

            I think perhaps the “problem” with the people in the front line is that they are caring, compassionate people, no matter how hard some of them try to hide it. There’s really no silver lining (that I can find anyway) for this whole pandemic and that’s sad and frustrating for those who want to help others. But the majority of us are grateful you are there for us, whatever your role.

          2. Jojo*

            I work third shift. If i have to go into town for groceries or gas in morning i also feel that dark cloud. And then walmart has that buggie obstacle course to get in. Uggg

      2. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        When I get home, I lay down for an hour and play a mindless game on my phone. I’m getting used to empty streets and closed stores and businesses. I got excited when I learned my favourite restaurant was re-opening just for takeout and delivery. They can do it here with contactless delivery or pickup. It made things seem normal for a while.

    5. Stephanie C Robinson*

      Thank you, thank you, thank you for what you do. You’re all in my prayers every day.

      1. Sara M*

        Yes, co-signed. I wish you guys had the PPE you need. Thank you for working so hard to help everyone.

      2. Alli525*

        Came here to say this. Several family members and close friends are in healthcare, and some of them are on the front lines of this. I’m so worried for them and think/pray for them every day, and every time I feel annoyed by the quarantine I remember that we’re doing it to help keep healthcare workers safer. Y’all are heroes, no question about it.

    6. Geillis D*

      Beautifully said. Thank you for that.
      My job is not exactly frontline. I’m a public practice accountant so my biggest risks are a paper cut or carpal tunnel syndrome. I’m lucky to work in a small office with a tight team and a great work flow – we all have our assigned roles and we’re all very competent in our positions in the bucket chain. We’re still in the thick of tax season and our clients still need our services, with an extra layer of anxiety and financial struggles and an urgency to get their refunds. Some people on my team work inconsistent hours to accommodate kids’ homeschooling and their spouses’ schedules and my boss quietly admitted to me she resents that even though rationally she realizes we just have to work with what we’ve got.
      Our biggest fear is someone getting sick, as we are a small team with a high workload even in years with no pandemics. We’ve set up a drop off box for client documents and put the kibosh on client meetings, wash our hands religiously and social distance as much as possible, but the threat is real. We’re already operating on a tight margin so this is seriously scary. I was sick last week, probably not Covid-19 but it was incredibly stressful worrying if I have passed it along to my teammates.
      I work as usual at peak stress months but don’t have any of my usual outlets to decompress. No coffee with friends, restaurants, yoga classes (with real people rather than YouTube), sewing and music sessions and plain old walks simply because the weather has been abysmal in the last few weeks. I can’t participate in bread baking social media sprees or do all the other fun stuff people stuck at home get to do. I’m usually content unless I have a reason to be otherwise; now I have this dark cloud hanging wherever I go. It sucks.

      And healthcare workers deserve medals, a raise, free massages for life and a basket of kittens.

      1. LurkerBrown*

        I am an accountant also. Everyone in my business who can, is working from home. I and my assistant need to be here for the unavoidable physical part.
        We are doing everything you mentioned. Drop box, washing hands, no face to face.
        I am inundated with business clients looking for stimulus loan help. Everyone needs money and it’s going to take awhile to get it. I am so overwhelmed with the financial crises portion of this.
        Add the real physical threat of disease every day. I feel very alone when everybody else is at home.
        I avoid the news and social platforms after work so the depression doesn’t overwhelm me.
        This is about the only online forum I visit anymore because I just can’t take anymore.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Just a shout out to all tax prep people. You have no idea how comforting it is to be able to reach you and work with you to get taxes completed and completed on the regular time frame.

        My tax person is an earthly angel. She was such a huge comfort to me especially this year. She has a very comforting ease about her as she goes through all the forms I need. Then she wrapped up with, “I got my return quickly so you will probably see your soon.” I think I successfully hid my tears of joy. Indeed the refund came the way she said it would. She has improved my situation so much.

        You folks doing taxes, you are helping people in a meaningful way. I hope you know that and I hope you are hearing that from at least some of your people.

    7. Robin Sparkers*

      I am also essential (not front line) because I work for a hospital and I technically could be onsite but chose to do as much as possible from home. The few times I went in to the office and hospital because it was unavoidable- it was weird and definitely did not make me feel business as usual. For one, even onsite we are being asked to call in and practice social distancing. No one meets in a room anymore unless absolutely necessary. Many of us are dialing in even when we are onsite from different locations. Because of that, I may as well work from home and am doing that where I can so as not to expose the truly essential people I work with (physicians, nurses, techs, etc).

    8. Thankful for AAM*

      Healthcare worker,
      I’m also feeling left out of things but I am wth. I am so isolated at home that I have no idea what it is like to be going to work each day like its all “normal.” Even TV does not give a clear sense of what it is like in hospitals.

      So I think we are all feeling isolated from something, thats the real shared experience.

      I thank you and everyone working at work and wish you all the best and that you are safe!

  3. Amity*

    I work at a home improvement store, so we’ve been open throughout the whole thing. The only day we’re closing is this Sunday 4-12, for Easter. We’re usually open that day but corporate closed it for this year (along with most of the other essential retailers in our area). I’ve been trying my best to keep a positive attitude throughout–so should out in solidarity to all my other essential associate!

    1. Justme, The OG*

      I’m pretty sure I used to work for that same employer. I’ve worked for both the orange and the blue companies. I hope that your store is giving you proper PPE and allowing for social distancing.

      1. Amity*

        We are! Masks, gloves, lots of hand sanitizer and cleaner, placement signs and markers (we literally have the floor marked off in 6-foot segments), plexiglass around the registers–stuff like that. Our front end has had several callouts since this started, so overtime is approved for those who want it. I picked up an extra 8 hours last weekend. We also got a bonus at the end of March and an additional $2/hour for the 4-week period of Saturday 4-4 — Friday 5-1. For the most part, I’ve always felt supported here and continue to feel that way. I work for the blue company. I don’t mind saying that online since we have thousands of employees and don’t really think I have enough info in here for people to figure out who I am. : )

        1. Justme, The OG*

          I will say that I feel like the blue ones treated me better over my time there, so I am glad to hear this information from you.

        2. King Friday XIII*

          Thank you for sharing, Amity! I’ve heard so many awful things about major employers and it’s good to know who’s treating folks well, too.

        3. Tben*

          I also work at the blue company! For the most part, they’ve been doing a good job of keeping us as safe as they possibly can. It has been a struggle with making sure everything is constantly being sanitized and making sure that customers (and some coworkers) are following proper social distancing guidelines, but we’re doing the best we can. Now if only people would stop coming in “just to get out of the house for awhile,” it would be much better!

          1. Amity*

            Shout out from my store to yours! And we all agree about the browsing. I know getting out of the house is important for mental health, but there’s so many ways to take care of that and get out for a while without coming into contact with people. Go for a drive, take a walk around your neighborhood–all that stuff.

          2. CatLadyInTraining*

            I have a co worker whose college kid works at Target and they’ve had the issue of stores starting to become crowded because, like you said, people are coming to “get out of the house.” If you want to go for an outing, take a walk or a hike, go order a shake from the drive-thru and go for a nice drive! Don’t go to Target or a grocery store or a hardware store just to walk around.

          3. Katurah-Ari*

            Yes! I’m your fellow vendor in arms putting our new video releases, making end caps, and acting like I work there but have no idea where the toothpicks are.

            Might I add how hard it is for me to grocery shop myself bc at the end of my day (5pm) there’s nothing left to buy or the lines are crazy long. I’ve often come home empty handed and told the kids: nope the pallet with 300 pkgs of ramen was gone within the first hour.

            1. G0-back where?*

              I agree with the shopping difficulty when you’re the employee. The only way I coped was on the occasional shift I was assigned to returning products to the displays. If I saw something I needed that was running low, I put it in my cart and conveniently forgot where to return it until my lunch or the end of the day. Only worked a couple of times but it really helped!

        4. Hats Are Great*

          “(we literally have the floor marked off in 6-foot segments), ”

          Thanks to your store for doing this; going to the stores that have marked out the six feet is a lot less stressful than going to stores that haven’t.

          And thank you for keeping the world running at personal risk.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I admit that last week I did have to visit a large home improvement store despite the stay at home order. But it was for something genuinely needed.

      I’m glad they are closed this Sunday, and I hope they keep shorter hours because typically those places are open somewhere like 6am-11pm which isn’t necessary right now.

      1. Amity*

        That’s why we’re open, for the stuff people need to make their homes livable. If your toilet or faucet breaks, or you need to replace your front door lock–well, those are all needed for your home to be livable and safe. So no worries on that! We have the reduced hours as well. I forgot to mention that.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Appreciated for sure – I had to go out and pick up a new sump pump system right after all the SIP orders came down, because it was either that, or my basement was gonna keep flooding every other day. (We installed it as a DIY, and it seems to be working fine so far, knock wood!)

        2. CatHerder*

          Our toilet broke. I am competent at repairs but I needed the supplies to do it. I am so glad places like this are open as now we have a working toilet!

          1. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

            Same! Our toilet seat broke and we were very grateful we were able to get one from a home improvement store, and the appropriate hardware when the default set that came with it was not right. We were not looking forward to a janky toilet seat for months on end otherwise.

        3. Magenta Sky*

          I work for a hardware store, and based on our business, “essential service” is exactly the right decision. We’re seeing better year over year sales numbers that we’ve ever had before, despite customer count being down and shortened hours.

          1. Arial*

            I’m glad! However, I’d gently argue that revenue should have no place in calculating what is and isn’t essential.

    3. Ann Onny Muss*

      I was kind of surprised at first to see hardware/home improvement stores considered essential, but when I actually thought about it, it made sense. Faucets start leaking. Appliances die. People need various types of hardware to do their jobs. So thank you for going in and working. I’m glad your company is taking care of you.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Yeah, my husband is an electrician and considered essential. He gets most supplies at HD. He also uses a supply house for specialty stuff, which is also open and is considered essential.

        This is kind of the area that I felt didn’t have as much thought by the government as it could have. XYZ is open, but XYZ relies on ABC, and ABC is non-essential.

      2. Magenta Sky*

        We’ve always known we were a vital resource to the communities we’re in, especially in troubled times. It’s never been quite so much in the forefront before, though. We do get told how much people appreciate us being open quite a bit, which helps.

      3. A. Ham*

        I have a friend who bought a house this winter after living in an apartment for years. Now that it is spring, they were talking the other day about the need, eventually, to purchase a lawnmower. I never even thought about that kind of situation.

        1. Timothy (TRiG)*

          Personally, I hate lawns. Boring to look at, and terrible for bees. But maybe that’s just me. If you have kids, I suppose they’re useful: somewhere to play.

        2. anonymous this time*

          Lawnmowers are 100% non-essential. HOAs who say otherwise can go lick a doorknob. Meadows or veggie gardens or almost anything other than a monoculture grass lawn are way better.

          1. Jojo*

            I don’t want my dogs doing their business in my garden. And i enjoy my yard now that my kids are grown. I can go vegetate in it without getting hit by a soccer or foot ball. So relaxing. Soak up some sun.

      4. AVP*

        My super broke my toilet last week in the context of checking on something unrelated, then tried to turn off all of the water in our building for 12 hours while he [didn’t] fix it, and tried telling folks that we could just not wash our hands in the interim – you better believe that the home-improvement store being open at the right minute for an emergency plumber to get a replacement piece was an essential to many people that night! :)

      5. Kay*

        I had a whole patch of shingles blow off my house overnight, I am incredibly glad that there are essential exemptions – I was able to get someone out to fix it within a few hours, ahead of our projected snowstorm tomorrow. Possibly it was even easier to get someone because of the lack of other business.

      6. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Also, electronics repair and sales are essential. My friend dropped his phone and needed it repaired NOW.

    4. Anne Elliot*

      I work in an administrative-level position for a state agency that cannot close, so just as our front line staff have to work every day, so do many of the support services folks who make sure they have resources, logistics, advice, and pay. Many of them can work from home but some of us cannot.

      What’s best for me is the ability to get out, even if just to go to work, and thus far avoid the cabin fever that seems to be afflicting many. The worst thing is going out, knowing that I am risking exposure from people who are also using the building (elevators, doors, restrooms) who may not be as zealous about social distancing, hand-washing, and disinfecting as I am. So “still going to work” is both the best and the worst thing.

      I am not throwing shade at all you good people who are working from home, but social media makes it appear you all are baking banana bread and curating your closets. I know that’s not true though. It’s tough for all of us, everywhere, but I found it was making me less charitable to others and more resentful as I dragged my butt out of bed, so I’ve stopped looking at that stuff.

      1. iantrovert (they/them)*

        I get the impression that the organizing and baking and so forth are more the people who are currently out of work, more than the people trying to manage phone calls and Zoom/WebEx/Teams meetings and chat and emails and family and pets while in an environment that’s not well suited to it. When you have a LOT of time on your hands, aren’t actively looking for new jobs (esp. since the applications-f0r-jobs requirement to receive unemployment has been waived in many places), and can’t go outside, there are a lot of Insta-firendly ways to spend that energy.
        (I’m WFH (software co) and honestly, my routine is so fscked that I’ve been either sleeping all the time or not at all. It has been Not Good for my mental health. I leave the house wearing mask and gloves once every 7-10 days for groceries and that’s it. My house is a mess. I can’t see the top of the kitchen table, there’s so much stuff piled on it. I promise WFH is not the sunshine and rainbows social media pretends. And I hope you can stay safe and healthy behind the lines <3 )

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          Yeah, those of us at home and unemployed are definitely not all doing this great Instagram friendly stuff. I did finally manage to start some serious work on the garden because I have nothing else to do except argue with people on twitter and wallow in despair. I did make muffins, but I haven’t been able to get flour for a month so the baking is limited. The clutter is still piled all around because there is nowhere to get rid of it.

          I’m thinking about applying for a job picking fruit.

      2. Avasarala*

        I think everyone is performing a level of calm normality that they don’t feel. I baked banana bread but I also spent the morning fear-binging news, had a panic attack at lunch and cried for 20 min, then baked the banana bread, and then kinda answered emails for an hour. But some of that didn’t make it to social media.

        1. Arial*

          Yeah. The bread is a coping mechanism and so is the posting about it. If you bake banana bread, you aren’t staring at the brown bananas and worrying about when you’ll get out to get more. You also then have carbs to eat and feel a little better. If you post about it, you get to write a story where you’re not just barely holding on.

          “You” in general, obviously. I’m just writing about myself and pretending I’m not.

    5. Wrench Turner*

      I’ve been giving big hearty “HAIL FELLOW ESSENTIAL WORKER!” whenever I meet people also on the clock out in the field. Thanks for sticking your neck out for the rest of us.

    6. Mel (Cow Whisperer)*

      Hi, Amity!

      I work at the orange company. They’ve been treating us well. Everyone received two weeks of additional PTO. High-risk groups picked up another two weeks. They’ve set up an additional bonus schedule based on hours worked plus double time for overtime hour.

      The whole store is now a maze of barricades and social distancing reminders. The number of people in the store is limited to 75. Managers are kicking any customers out who give employees a hard time at all. And best of all, my state started forcing stores to close non-essentials for the next three weeks including paint tinting, garden and flooring. As a paint employee, I was struggling with incandescent rage at the number of people who claimed that needing one more gallon of paint to finish a project in a home they were not selling was essential. Or because they were bored of being stuck at home. My managers told us we were allowed to reply to that with “I wish I was at home with my family rather than being here.”

      The company sent all of our PPE to hospitals and first responders before the new recommendations from the CDC came out. I’ve been sewing masks in my down time for associates to wear.

      My biggest problem has been the people who are ignoring the stay-at-home orders and putzing around in the store while being blase about social distancing. Like….if you have your s–t together and can come in, order paint (without asking me “what is sheen?” or wanting me to explain the differences between all the paints we sell), stay away from other humans and leave, I’m not going to notice you long enough to figure out if you are a contractor or a diy person. If you start whining because the paint you like is on backorder for the duration of the plague because the factory that produces it has been shut down instead of just shrugging and saying “Well, I’ll take ______” instead, you are not a contractor.

      I also feel guilty because my life has only changed in little ways. My son is three and is in special education for PT, OT and speech therapy due to extreme prematurity leading to cerebral palsy. That’s all shut down now – but the infant model of special ed is all home-parent based so we’ve just reverted to that. I still see most of my coworkers during the week. I’ve gotten to learn a new job that I like. I get a decent amount of exercise at work. But I also dread that I’m a asymptomatic carrier….and my brother who works in retail has already gotten sick with something that gave him a 102 degree fever, dry cough and was not influenza.

      I’m just glad to have somewhere to talk about this.

  4. Narcanrocks*

    I’ve realized lately that I don’t have to be okay. I don’t have to feel good all the time. I can be a walking ball of nerves as long as I am still able to do my job and do the minimum of household tasks. Realizing that helped a lot.

    Like, how can I be okay? I’m exposed every day at work. It’s only a matter of time before I get sick. But I’m not so much worried about me as I am about mu coworkers who are at high risk. Meanwhile PPE is worth its weight in gold, the county gives us nothing, the government doesn’t care if we die because we’re a blue state. Nothing about this is okay, so I don’t have to be okay.

    It’s not forever, and when it’s done I’ll just have a nice little mental breakdown. And maybe go camping.

    So that’s how I get through the day. Sorry I don’t have good answers.

    1. Healthcare Worker*

      I am exactly like that in my mentality. Fortunately my hospital does give us PPE and is doing great. But I am going to get it. I accept that already.

    2. Ann Onny Muss*

      For those of you who have essential jobs, thank you. I hope that you do not get sick, and barring that, your potential illness is very mild.

      1. Amity*

        Yes love your username! I took some training on how to administer it (hope to have a refresher course when this is over).

        1. Narcanrocks*

          Good for you. I really like seeing more people getting training and carrying emergency narcan.

          It is a really satisfying drug to give people because they go from barely breathing to awake and talking in like a minute. Never gets old.

          1. anon24*

            Yes. I love giving narcan. Give them narcan, ventilate with a bvm, and most of the time they go from almost dead to talking to me in minutes. Just amazing. One of my favorite EMS calls was the day we walked in the door as a person took their last gasping breath and then stopped breathing. If we would have been 2 minutes later they would have died, but instead we started breathing for them, gave them narcan, and minutes later they were standing up talking to us.

          2. Wrench Turner*

            I’m trying to figure out a way to have it distributed strategically throughout our little community so that someone can get it if they need it just a little bit faster before help arrives. Keep up the good work, and thanks from all of us.

    3. Blueberry*

      You don’t have to have good answers, especially when so many of the ones you’ve been given are bad. I am hoping my hardest for you to make it through this unscathed.

    4. vampire physicist*

      I feel this. I’m not frontline (I don’t work directly with patients) but I am essential and in healthcare. Because everything was pretty much business as usual, it took a few days for me to realize that yes, I’m doing roughly the same things for roughly the same amount of time, it’s normal to feel drained when you’re also bleaching down your equipment, calling ahead to make sure you can get access, and worrying about whether your laptop bag will contaminate your car. Plus, I’m sure that I’m drinking much less water since I’m usually in a mask and that can’t be helping.
      I also second the weird left out feeling on social media. I’m glad that I still have a job – my sister and many friends have been furloughed or laid off entirely – but look, our feelings about this don’t need to be rational.

      1. Flustered*

        I also work in healthcare, but am not a credentialed healthcare provider on the front lines so to speak. However, my job is located in a large healthcare facility. It’s something that could be done from home, but management is still forcing us to come in. The lives of our nurses are at risk due to all the administrative staff members coming into the building and bringing in their germs. Our requests to telework keep getting turned down because “everyone is essential!” It’s like they don’t understand that someone can be essential AND can work remotely.

    5. Jojo*

      I am a Trump supporter. So are most of the people i know. And i promise we care very much that you live.

  5. CU attorney*

    I’m doing a mix of both, and both are hard for different reasons. I don’t have many tips for either, as I’m not sure I’m doing either well.

    1. KC without the sunshine band*

      I’m doing a mix as well. I’ve been primarily working from home for exactly a month as of today, but I’ve had to go in 3 times and I’ll be in tomorrow. I only have to go in for certain events. My husband, however, is part of the food supply chain so he still goes to work every day. That actually helps us feel a little more normal, since his routine hasn’t changed. I for us that has been the key, keeping as much of our regular routine as we can. We don’t have kids so that doesn’t factor in. My dogs are thoroughly confused though. :)

    2. Catherine*

      Also a mix–I’m on partial rotating furlough so I work two days a week and have 3 off. I’m glad to be keeping my job but I’m frustrated by the insistence on butts in seats when nothing about my work is essential to society’s continued functioning. We just don’t have any infrastructure for WFH in place.

  6. ArchivedGremlin*

    I hate feeling guilty… While I am working partially from home (our office is rotating). But at the same time, I’m very glad that I have a job and that I have a mostly normal life (seriously my life hasn’t changed all that much other than not going to the gym because I’m a homebody with no social life)

    1. GeekBoi*

      I also am on an office/WFH rotation. I am handlin g it OK. However, my wife is a nurse, and our stress about HER job is not doing either of us any good

      1. Eleaner*

        How is your company handling rotating? We’re looking at it, but just trying to figure out how to handle disinfecting between rotations. Thanks!

    2. Peppercat53*

      Same. I live in South Dakota where there are no official stay at home or shelter in place orders. I work in production in a beverage facility (wine & beer- small business) and the owners here have been great. We are isolated by department, they sent everyone to work from home who can, we are doing to-go orders only, they are complying with the new federal laws and applying for small business benefits from those laws.
      I still feel really guilty for going into work daily. I see my friends and family in Colorado sheltering in place and I feel terrible like I’m contributing to the problem.
      My husband works from home and has for years. We live in a small town and the only thing that hasn’t changed for us so far is not going into bigger cities on the weekends.

      1. Peppercat53*

        Oops meant has changed – we don’t go into bigger cities anymore on the weekends like we used to.

    3. All monkeys are French*

      The guilt hits me from all sides. My job is essential (small-scale food production) but I’m taking as few shifts as possible.
      When I stay home I feel guilty that more work falls on my coworkers’ shoulders, and that I’m losing out on pay (no PTO), and that I’m privileged enough to afford that, and that I’m not grateful enough to have a job at all.
      When I go to work I feel guilty that I’m creating risk for my household and my community, and that I might be taking a shift from someone who needs it more, and that I think unkind thoughts about my boss, who is just trying to survive right now, too.

    4. JSPA*

      Not a lot of talk about this option, but it’s potentially the best way forward, sooner or later, for all sorts of businesses. Especially if there’s good air flow; good communication about who passes through where and when; good discipline about not touching what’s not yours; mask usage; and (too rarely considered!) ideally, people can avoid doing #2 at the office.

      We know that toilets aerosolize, and we know that a common “atypical” presentation is GI, and we know that the virus can be present at high levels, and for extended periods after the end of symptoms, in poop.

      So while “don’t poop at the office” is normally COMPLETELY inappropriate micromanagement, and people with GI issues should not have to disclose nor accommodate to that sort of requirement (or expect accommodation to deal with that sort of expectation)….

      …it’s probably a really good idea to reconsider some of that, in light of those things.

      If that means someone is only able to come in for a few hours at a certain time of day, so be it.

      1. Purple*

        Well now when I walk into the bathroom and smell that faint smell, I’m turning right around!

      2. Eleaner*

        How are you guys handling that communication/how well is it being received? Using this thread to try to improve some of how we’re handling our procedures. Thanks!

  7. Booksnbooks*

    I just want to say thank you to everyone who is heading out every day to work, and in many cases (like my partner’s) doing the job of 3-4 people in addition to their own so that others can stay home. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    1. juliebulie*

      Seconded. I am in awe of all those people who are going out there every day and keeping things going. Thank you so much.

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      My husband is essential and working overnights. And I feel like things are 10x harder for him right now, because he has to work all night (12 hour shifts now, to decrease the people who are in and out), then come home and watch the kid while I work from home, then get a few hours of sleep and do it again.

      1. Anna*

        Your husband sounds like a superhero partner. Praying that your entire family gets some well deserved rest soon.

    3. Leah K.*

      Yes, I am very grateful for all the people who are leaving the safety of their homes every day to go out there and do their jobs that help this world keep running. Thank you all very much!

    4. Quinalla*

      Yes, thank you so much all! Healthcare, grocery, restaurants, delivery, trash pickup and many more – thank you so much! I work adjacent to construction and I am going to have to do an essential site visit for that in 2 weeks, but otherwise I’ve been able to stay working from home with my family and it is appreciated so much.

    5. Hats Are Great*

      Yes, thank you so much! Such a terrifying time, but at least I don’t have to worry about how I will feed my kids!

      Several of the local religious groups have made yard signs that they’ve put up outside the grocery store, drug store, hardware store, etc., in our town, they say some variation on “Thank you, essential workers, for your service to our community in this difficult time. We love you and are praying for you daily.” and then usually a short prayer specific to the religious group.

      I’m not a very religious person but seeing six or seven of those lined up, in several different faiths and languages, made me tear up. It’s hard because there’s so little “normal” support we can offer each other right now as human beings — the most important thing most of us can do is stay home as much as possible so people who are essential workers have as little exposure to us as possible, when the natural thing is to offer hugs and homemade cookies and dropping by to say a kind word and so on. So I’m glad that the signs are there offering at least some human support and love and connection and I can feel a little bit like they’re speaking for me too.

      1. Anon This Time*

        Speaking as an ‘essential’ who supports and is very close to the frontline-est of the frontline, neither I nor the people I know give two figs about the signs and applause and so on. What I, and they, would appreciate is if everyone remembers this when voting and don’t elect services-hating science deniers to local, state and national governments around the world.

        We aren’t in this position because of a virus, we are in this position because of poor decision after poor decision that left holes in healthcare systems that the virus could penetrate. That, for me, is the hardest thing to deal with – the knowledge that all of these risks we’re being made to take are the result of other people’s greed and ignorance. If you voted for the greed and ignorance even after so many of us told you that big bad things would result, your thanks now don’t mean much.

        1. Hats Are Great*

          I’m part of a local progressive group running a “Remember in November” campaign on exactly this point — it’s great to thank the workers now, but it doesn’t mean much if you don’t “Remember in November” to vote for candidates and policies that will support low-wage workers.

      2. Mrs. Smith*

        My husband works at a company like the one that would have printed those signs. The company is considered essential because they can produce blueprints for construction companies in case, I don’t know, we build a hospital overnight or something, so he goes in to work every day. I’m grateful for his paycheck and health insurance but scared about what he could bring home to the kids. (And is he usually making blueprints? He is not. He is designing vehicle wraps for landscaping company vans. Yay commerce, but maybe that could wait?)

  8. Bunnies!*

    Hi there! I’m a law office mail room worker who still needs to come into the office every day. Thanks for making this thread!

    Things that are helping:
    – Playing music in the office, which is normally Forbidden
    – Dressing down (jeans! sneakers!)
    – Putting on one thing that makes me smile every day (ridiculous shoes! glittery lipstick! or a completely normal, businessy-yet-“me” outfit)
    – Reminding myself that at least I get to have a change of scenery each day
    – Kind and considerate coworkers who have gone out of their way to send me shoutouts and the occasional mask
    – Volunteering to water folks’ plants, which has proven to be a very pleasant and relaxing task

    Things that are not helping:
    – That One Guy, way above me in the office hierarchy, who could absolutely work from home but chooses not to. Every day.

    1. boredatwork*

      If this is the partner in charge (or similar) he’s probably there to make sure the ship doesn’t sink. Our EVP pool is rotating who “comes in”, but there needs to be someone who can “make decisions” there during business hours.

      if he’s just some mid-level lawyer, dude is probably not essential and should stay home.

      1. Womanaroundtown*

        I don’t know… my dad is a managing partner at a firm and he is working from home now. Tbf, we live in NYC and his type of law is classified non-essential. I am also a lawyer, and my job IS considered essential, yet our entire agency is working from home, as are the judges. We do virtual court twice a week instead.

      2. Bunnies!*

        Our partner in charge has been working from home and is incredibly supportive. I like the guy coming in on a personal level, but have had confirmation that he technically should not be here, and it’s frustrating.

      3. Indigo a la mode*

        Our CEO is working from work and it’s driving me crazy. He’s been upfront that it’s just so he doesn’t distract himself at home. Dude, we’re all managing that.

    2. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I would just like to say that any job right now that is making people dress up for the office that isn’t a high political office are the worst people.

      1. Adele*

        I am working from home with some forays into the office. I dress as if for work even on my WFH days. Granted, that does not mean suits and heels even in normal times, but it is nice pants, blouses, sweaters, jackets, dresses, nice shoes. Dressing up every day puts me in work mode and keeps me from taking naps, going out and pulling weeds, getting distracted scrubbing the bathroom. Yes, I am not very self-disciplined but I know that about myself and use whatever I can to keep me in front of my computer. When my work day is done, I close the laptop and switch into my at home clothes.

    3. Peep*

      I love your username! Also, I think watering the plants is a great thing I never thought about… I’ve heard here and there that a few people are sad to know their plants will die, but I’m glad your office has a plant fairy. :)

    4. Syfygeek*

      I’m at a University that is shut down. No students, all faculty teaching remotely, but I’ve been coming in everyday. There are only 2 of us working in my building, and most days I don’t see anyone else. I’ve gotten projects completed that were much easier with no one here, and scanned or mailed things to faculty, or to students that were needed. I feel like I’ve made a difference by being here. I have the option of WFH, but my PC is in what used to be a breakfast nook, with 3 adults, 3 dogs and 3 cats traipsing through all day long.

      And I too have the music cranked, wearing jeans, and reorganizing spaces without “helpful comments” from anyone.

    5. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

      The music is one of the better perks. My Spotify favourites are on loud now and if I want to replay the same song 3 times in a row I can. It’s a small pleasure and stress release.

      1. Loud music*

        Absolutely!!! Finally get to play my NSFW playlist at the office without getting the stink eye! I am way more productive with expletive laden music playing.

    6. ArchivesGremlin*

      Oh man, I love that my boss okayed the wearing of jeans when we’re in the office (normally jeans are only allowed on Fridays).

    7. halfmanhalfshark*

      I’m a lawyer and normally work from home, but I couldn’t do my job under normal circumstances and absolutely could not do it now without the folks who still go into the office to make it all work. So thank you so so so much (and yes, I tell the staff at my firm the same, every day).

      I talk to a lot of attorneys across the country in the regular course of business and a shocking number of them in states/localities that haven’t instituted more intense stay-at-home orders are still going into the office every day because they just don’t “feel right” working from home and their firms aren’t requiring it. It’s pretty frustrating.

  9. Construction Safety*

    Essential contractor to an essential industry (think: if you want TP next month, we gotta work). We’ve managed to keep 150 out of 200 people working throughout the southeast.

    Well, really helping is the lack of any traffic, anywhere. I do out out 2-3 times per week at lunch (pick-up/to go) to support the locally owned restaurants. I tip pretty well. It’s a small thing, but some are really struggling.

    1. Em*

      Lack of traffic is getting me home 30 minutes earlier which is definitely helping my emotional state. I can also sleep in 20 minutes later

      I’m not doing well emotionally though. I’m on day 4 of 12 on right now.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      Hmm. We had a project for GP, and now I wonder if we work for the same place, ha. I think what we did is in start-up now, so probably not. I’m on the engineering side and my group worked on the FEED, so I haven’t kept pace with the project status in a while.

      1. Construction Safety*

        Maybe. 75% of our work is for GP (a terrible business model) One project is in the middle of a large field in western Alabama; we have on-going work in eastern & western GA and a re starting some work in southern MS.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Definitely different companies, but you might have crossed paths with us in AL.

  10. Anon for this one*

    This is on behalf of my child, who works retail in a state with a governor who is too stupid to do anything right, such as shutting down nonessential businesses. Please STOP YOUR OPTIONAL SHOPPING. PLEASE. This is not an unexpected holiday. This is a crisis.

    1. BookishAnon*

      Agreed! The store I work in is only open because people keep shopping here. We’re only open for curbside pickups and ship outs, but we would definitely be able to stay home if our customers also actually stayed home.

      1. Rebecca1*

        Any advice on how to distinguish between “optional shopping” vs “supporting local business”?

        1. ThatGirl*

          Not to derail but I wonder this too. I want to support our local game store and beer shop and so forth, and those owners are asking for support on social media. I don’t want to “make” anyone work, though.

          1. Marthooh*

            Ask about buying gift cards to redeem later, or try ordering by phone and picking it up at the curb.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Basically all of the stores in our area are either doing delivery or curb pickup, I did walk five feet into a burrito joint last weekend but they have a lot of precautions. I even got beer delivered straight to my door. So yeah, I’m not just wandering into stores and touching things.

        2. fposte*

          I think that every business would want our support right now, though. That doesn’t mean it’s epidemiologically appropriate to give it. If you can do the gift certificate thing or it’s someplace that does curbside or no-contact deliveries, it’s likelier to be reasonable, but if it really is going into a store and buying stuff that you would be fine without for another four weeks, the benefit to the business is probably outweighed by the detriment to the population.

          1. All monkeys are French*

            The small businesses want your support, and some of the employees might, too. But some of those employees would much rather stay home and stay safe rather than come in to do something that’s honestly not that essential. Speaking as one of those employees, that is.

        3. Myrin*

          Can’t speak for the US – our “true” local businesses, as in, aren’t local parts of national chains, are closed by state orders anyway – but what really sticks out where I work is… don’t come in every day (or multiple times in one day) and buy two little things, and repeat that same process over and over again. Make a list of stuff you want to get at [store] and then go once a week or so and if you get something with that which is technically not essential, no one cares. But please don’t expect an in-depth consultation on lip-liner or fountain pens right now when we’re already stretched thin as it is. (Unless you’re in a specialty store for one of these products, I guess.)

    2. Myrin*

      Oh my god yes please.

      I’m a shelf stocker at a drugstore (in Germany, if that matters), so we’re essential (and I joke that as the toilet paper and hygiene person, I’m the most essential out of all of them). And while there are a lot of business-related reasons my coworkers and I are aflutter, as far as I can tell, everyone is very calm about the virus itself because we’re so necessarily close to each other that if one person has it, it’s likely that all of us will have already caught it from them; in fact, we’re constantly surprised that so far, apparently none of us have been infected, which is statistically unlikely. But we’ll see.

      However. That does NOT mean that we are happy to have as many people as possible crowd into us and to see basically no difference compared to a completely regular day before all of this went down. It doesn’t help that our boss is a total wimp and doesn’t enforce the maximum-amount-of-people-in-the-store-at-the-same-time rule but technically, she shouldn’t have to.

      I’m getting mighty irritated with the lady who comes in every day to buy one package of tissues – and then gets whiny with me if we don’t have her preferred product stocket at the moment, really, not aggressive, just whiny, which is almost worse – or the seniors who stroll around meeting up with their neighbours or the people parking their children in the toy department and then boast about that very act. Like. Can you not, please?

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I agree with the idea of not going to the store too frequently, and the current set-up at some of the big box stores certainly does not encourage it. (It’s an unpleasant shopping experience, where before people probably were going to entertain themselves.)

        But, one thing that snagged us during the initial lockdown AFTER everyone raided the stores on TP, milk, eggs, etc., was the limits on buying those items. Sure, if you’re a single person or a couple, one gallon of milk will do it. If we need to ration, ok (meanwhile it’s really a supply chain problem and dairies are dumping product), but an appropriate rationing would not have the same rules for a 7-person household vs. a 2-person household. When it’s only a limit per trip, it’s just setting people up to make more trips. (I do wish y’all would ration cookies though. We need to slow down on the Oreos.)

        1. Magenta Sky*

          The difficulty in rationing based on how many people in a household is that people will lie to get more, and there’s no way to verify their claims.

          1. Rachel in NYC*

            I know- I feel bad for everyone I know with families, especially because I live by myself so things like milk and eggs last forever in my house but my sister has 2 kids and goes through stuff constantly.

            1. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

              I had to buy paper products for my work and I was telling the cashier they weren’t for me because I felt guilty just buying the limit.

          2. AnotherAlison*

            I know there isn’t a good, practical solution now, and I’m happy to only have 4 people in my house not the theoretical 7. Of course, three are men/male teen. My oldest would eat 36 eggs a week by himself, and he had been out of the house at college. We increased our food use about 4x between the meals at home and adding him back. That said, grocery shopping and at-home school for my frustrated teen are my two biggest problems, and those are NOT big problems.

            1. Princess Zelda*

              Off-topic, but I’m reminded of the scene in Beauty and the Beast where Gaston boasts about how he eats five dozen eggs every morning.

        2. Jessica will remember in November*

          Following on to anotherAlison’s point about household size, if I were shopping now I’d be shopping for myself, my elderly parents, and my preexisting-respiratory-issues sibling, so 3 households, thus quotas on critical stuff would be a problem. I just placed my first grocery order for delivery and was relieved not to encounter any.

        3. Jojo*

          Yup. I use a out half gallon of milk a week. My neighbor has 5 kids. So she gets milk 2 gallons. I get 2 gallons. Then the next morning when get off work i go to store and get her 2 more gallons. So she dies not have to take her kids out.

    3. Loud music*

      I see the point, but would like to point out that some people it is a coping mechanism. They go shopping because sitting with nothing to do is triggering for self abusive behavior like drinking, or drug use, or just self loathing. They go out of the house so that they do not cut, orcome up with plans to off themselves. Going into that store may be the one thing they are looking forward to doing, the one thing keeping them from ending it all. Not to be depressing, just a sucky fact of where some are right now.

  11. Naansi*

    Grocery worker here! Didn’t work too well for me, down for the count with the virus now! My main anxiety is the fact that I was responsible for preparing curbside pickup orders for high risk customers so that they could limit exposure. I took all the necessary precautions, but I’m still so worried I missed something and infected someone high risk when I was contagious but asymptomatic.

    1. Bunnies!*

      This is my worry, too. I know it’s easier said than done, but please be kind to yourself. You were doing your best.

    2. Picard*

      All you can do is all you can do. You did your best with what you had. Please dont add the burden of guilt!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Everyone I know is washing down their groceries and taking extra precautions. They just assume a grocery worker who stocks or picks an order is contagious. So please try to ease your mind, most people understand the risks associated with still needing vital assistance that you were providing when you thought you were healthy xoxo

      1. Ann Onny Muss*

        Yep, I just figure everyone is a walking infection vector (including myself). I get groceries delivered and wipe the packaging down with a household disinfectant, and wash my hands afterwards. So try not to worry too much, Naansi. You did what you had to do, and you took reasonable steps to keep customers safe. I hope you recover quickly!

        1. Hannah*

          Getting delivery only, but can’t get stuff to wipe it down with. I’ve looked everywhere online that I can possibly think of, but everyone is out. I was gifted one package of wipes from a friend (porch dropoff) but that obviously won’t go too far. Not the person doing deliveries fault in any way, of course, just the reality I think people who didn’t stock up and can’t go out now have. I’m just waiting for them to stop delivering food totally.

            1. Old and Don’t Care*

              We haven’t had rubbing alcohol or peroxide or bleach in stores for weeks either. It’s hard not to resent people going crazy with the disinfectants when there is none to be found anywhere.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            You can use soap and water on a lot of items and please keep looking for wipes online. I’ve gotten restocks on Amazon regularly enough. Preorder. They said they’d deliver by May 15th and have showed up already!!!

            1. Hannah*

              Would you please post a link for them, if that’s ok to do here? I must be looking in the wrong place. I would love to make my own wipes, but am down to 3 rolls of paper towels. Another thing that I can’t seem to find to order. Or at least to receive! I do have tp, but only because I bought it before I decided, not that long ago, that I lived 5 minutes from a grocery store, that I was there way too often, and I needed to stop stocking up on things! Haha.

              1. tommy*

                if you have enough hand soap or bar soap, you can place the non-porous grocery items in your sink, soap up your hands, wash your hands for 20 seconds, and then coat all the items with the lather, using your own hands. just make sure that soap gets on all the surfaces of the grocery items and it will “break” the virus (if the virus was on there in the first place). i’ve been doing this because i have more bar soap than wipes.

      2. Sara M*

        This! I’m high risk and it’s my job to do basic precaution like wipes and handwashing… I assume all delivery people are or could be contagious (and not know it).

    4. longtimeReaderFirsttimePoster*

      THANK YOU! Myself & a few of my friends are in that high risk group – we’ve all been taking extra precautions to wipe down plastic containers, wash produce, remove cardboard, or otherwise remove the packaging that others have likely been in contact with. I seriously doubt that your precautions + at-home measures created any significant risk. And, even if it had, that risk would be so SUBSTANTIALLY lower than if we went into the store. I’m sure this won’t quiet your worries, but I had to try, as workers like you make it possible for me to get groceries.
      Wishing you a speedy recovery, recognition at work for the hazards of your job, and longterm improvement of how we treat our essential workers. <3

    5. Anna*

      Bless you Naansi. You did what you can do. Everyone’s doing their best, as we trust that you did given your circumstances. Hang in there, and truly rest well while you can. Wishing you a safe and speedy recovery.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I could be considered high risk (not as high as others, but still…), and it is ON ME to get my shopping done in a way that protects myself.

      I’m fortunate that I can send other people (though of course some of my risk travels with them, but it’s lower).

      1. TootsNYC*

        If any blame falls on your side of the exchange, don’t take it on yourself. It comes from the universe (because your business is needed), or from your employer.

    7. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      Hi Naansi, it speaks well of you that your thoughts turn to the welfare of others, but please try to let yourself off this particular hook. You did your best, and now is the time to do your best at taking care of yourself. I hope you get well very soon, and I am sending you all the virtual soothing beverages and pleasant media for you to consume. :)

      1. On a pale mouse*

        +1, from another grocery worker who doesn’t know whether to be more worried about myself or about my customers if this happens to me. Get well soon.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Naansi, so very sorry you are faced with this. Please remember that someone is worried that they infected you and just as you are more worried about others that person is more worried about you. No one (okay, no sane person) is interested in infecting other people. Please hang on to that thought and understand that we all know that.
      Practice being gentle with your self-talk. When you think of others, through positive thoughts for them out into the universe, pray, send good vibes, whatever it is you do ordinarily, you can do that.

  12. Cora*

    Essential healthcare worker here – What has been the most helpful for me is just being cut some slack. Yes, I’m stressed, and crankier than usual, and my “filter” is pretty much gone. But try to understand that things are changing SO QUICKLY right now. Every day at my hospital, there is a new policy, a new online training, something. I’ve been moved out of my comfort zone into a different department, since mine is slow but others are slammed. Working in the middle of a pandemic is stressful, doing a whole different job in the middle of a pandemic is worse.

    I will say, I so appreciate everyone who has done something nice for essential workers. Restaurants that have donated meals, business that have donated their masks, and members of the community that are making cloth masks.

    And please, please, please stay home if you can.

    1. Laura*

      Cora, I came here to say the exact same thing but you said exactly what was on my mind. I’m a nurse and every day, sometimes every hour, policy and procedures are changing. Can do something in the AM that is completely different by lunch. Clinics closing/consolidating, labs changing who they will see, dorms opening for us to sleep in (campus is near the hospital), I can’t keep up and always have the nagging feeling I am doing or telling a patient the wrong thing because I don’t have time or the mental focus to process it all. Not even getting to the PPE and testing horror. HUGE hugs to you and to us all – stay well and strong people. This group has been a lifeline to me.

    2. epiICP*

      I’m in infection control at a major hospital in a very large metropolitan area that is being hit hard and is still climbing. I’m the one who keeps changing everything, and then tries to make sure the message goes out to everyone. It’s changing so fast I can’t keep up, our department is understaffed (as we all are), and we are constantly trying to juggle things to make sure everyone has enough PPE of the right kinds. I’m working 15+ hours a day, every day, and even when I try to go to sleep I replay all of the conversations I had that day with the clinical staff and worry that I may not have emphasized certain points enough or explained things well enough, and they may be put at risk as a result. There’s so much information i’m trying to get across and no one has the capability to absorb it all right now.
      All of which to say, it’s stressful and I feel more helpless than I ever have in this field, when I need to help the most. At the end of all this, I’m going to need a few weeks to just feel all of the feelings I’m ignoring right now.

      1. AnonoDoc*

        I am head of department, and I just keep emphasizing to everyone that the situation is evolving by the hour, right now best practices are being guided by case series and observations from areas ahead of us on the curve and we are really just doing the best we can with the information we have. It is stressful, but we are are all in the same boat.

        At the same time, we need to take care of ourselves, because this will NOT be over any time soon.

        And we so appreciate our community’s support. Rotary has been bringing us pizzas, local businesses have been donating PPE and changing their production over to masks and faceshields, and our patients are (mostly) so appreciative of everything we are doing to try to protect them. And every department is offering to support every other department as best we can and people are cross-training right and left!

        So thank you for all you are doing, give yourself some breathing room, and get some exercise too :)

    3. Archaeopteryx*

      Those first few weeks of March were so stressful; we got about 6 new workflow changes per day every day with sometimes completely different info, all while taking 4 – 5 times as many calls / messages from patients than normal. And there was a ton of uncertainty around how many people would be needed for the Covid section, what work was going to be like day-to-day, etc. Thank goodness things in that respect have settled down and we’re only getting changes to policy about every other day now. My sympathies to you from someone hit by that same tsunami!

      1. Cookie Monster*

        I really feel for you guys! My nurse friend told me she was given a binder with instructions on how to use ventilators and was pretty horrified about it and what will happen if she is the one who has to figure everything out using said binder in the heat of the moment. I wish you all the best and cannot imagine the stress you are under.

    4. Flustered*

      Do your behind the scenes workers (billing, quality assurance, marketing, etc) still have to come into the facility? I’m trying to get a sense of how common it is for healthcare facilities to have all these support roles physically have to report to work. I’m in a position that could be done remotely, but my employer is still requiring that we come in. Lives are pointlessly on the line for absolutely no reason. (Heck – some of the providers at my facility are providing telehealth, but they are required to do it IN the office! That defeats half the purpose of telehealth! As long as someone is able to maintain HIPAA compliance in their home environment, they shouldn’t have to provide telehealth at work). I wonder if my employer is an outlier or if this is a common thing?

      1. AnonoDoc*

        At our facility EVERYONE who is able to work from home is being encouraged to do so. Including providers who are doing video visits, as long as they have appropriate privacy controls in place.

      2. Cora*

        A lot of those support personnel are still physically coming in, mostly to be trained in other areas. For example, some of our registration and billing people are being trained to help clean rooms, transport patients, screen visitors and staff, etc. (to be clear, they are being trained to do non-clinical tasks, not operate ventilators or anything).

    5. Junior Dev*

      I’ve been thinking of buying some sort of food from a restaurant that is doing delivery and sending it to a hospital. What’s the best way to do this? I worry if I send eg pizzas they’ll not be able to eat them because of infection risk but I’m afraid to waste the time of hospital workers to ask how they prefer this to be done.

      1. NP*

        Hi! You can call the hospital and ask (call development/foundation- they handle donations and are nonclinical so happy to answer these calls) or look on the website- I know my own and all the hospitals in my area (Large city- not NYC- but affected) have a set process now!
        And thank you- as a nurse who is so grateful that bringing meals is one thing I don’t have to worry about due to the amazing community support.

  13. Ana Gram*

    Aghhh I feel this right now! I’m a police officer and I volunteer as an EMT on the weekends. I was chatting with my BFF a few days ago and she was telling me how worried she is to go to the grocery store. Which is completely valid! I can’t discount her feelings but, like, I also don’t care about the grocery store. I care that the cardiac arrests I work didn’t die from covid. I worry that my police officer husband and I will infect each other. I worry that I’ll be reassigned to a job that puts me at higher risk. I worry that my coworkers will die. Ugh it’s all just hard right now.

    1. Blueberry*

      It is very, very hard. If I could send you something tangible (like a box of PPE) I would, and you have all of my strongest hopes that you and your husband make it through unscathed.

    2. Three Cats in a Trench Coat*

      I understand this so much!

      I’m not nearly as front line as you are (work in a psychiatric facility), but I have plenty of exposure to patients and staff who have known exposures or positive tests, and I just can’t bring myself to worry about contactless grocery delivery the way that my non-medical friends have been. I’m taking reasonable precautions when I go out, but my life is stressful enough that I really need the endorphins from that run!

    3. Windchime*

      Coincidently, I have two adult sons; one is a police officer and the other works in a grocery store. You may not care about the grocery store right now, but if they weren’t open I bet you would start caring pretty damn quick. I am equally worried about both of my kids, because they have jobs where they have to show up in person, day after day, despite the risks to their own health. The first responder job might be seen as more glamorous, but truth be told they are equally important. Because for most of us, no grocery store = no food.

      1. JSPA*

        “not care” = “not care about the relative risk of shopping at the store briefly, vs the much higher risk from doing the healthcare job.” We all care about having both!!!!

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I think you’re reading this comment incorrectly.

        She’s not saying your child or grocery workers don’t matter. She’s not saying that the first responders are better than grocery clerks!!! She’s saying she doesn’t FEAR going to the grocery store the same way regular citizens who are on lockdown fear it. Because she risks her life EVERY DAY just by going to work as well. Unlike a person who is able to stay locked down for every other moment except for your limited exposure just going to the grocery store.

    4. Parallelogram*

      I’m also in law enforcement (child crimes detective), and I get it. I’m with you. The stress is high right now. Every day feels like a week, and I go home exhausted every day. I worry about infecting my husband (not in law enforcement) and my kids (toddlers). I get SO angry when I hear about people going out and doing stupid things like gathering in groups, while I have guy licking his driver’s license before handing it to my partner and telling me he hopes we both die.

      Most people have been great and supportive. But apparently, people are going to keeping beating their kids and raping each other and now the kids are stuck in the house with their abuser(s) all day. Its all heart wrenching.

  14. Hedgehug*

    My husband and I are both non-essential workers, not medical personnel, or anything of the sort, and we’re both still working outside the home.
    For me it’s not bad, I walk to work and I barely see anyone. I might pass 1 person on the sidewalk, and I do my best to stay away from them, as much space as the sidewalk or grass allows. I stay at work for about 2 hours, then go home to “work from home”.
    My husband doesn’t drive, so he has to take transit, and it stresses me out because it means he’s frequently in contact with surfaces people might be hacking all over. Although he has consistently assured me there’s hardly anyone on transit, I still worry about who was using it before him because our transit authority has been somewhat shady in my opinion about how frequently they’re cleaning (or not).
    When he comes home from work, he changes his clothes and washes up thoroughly before coming to greet me. This was his routine anyway, the only difference is I don’t greet him at the door like I used to.
    Our life is fairly normal. The only proper difference is grocery shopping limitations, and the very cautious mentality we have all had to adopt.

    1. Barbara Elizabeth Andres*

      I’m so sorry to hear that your transit authority has not been transparent about steps they are taking to protect their drivers and customers (or that they may not be taking enough steps.)
      I work for a transit agency (still working in the office most days, although about 90 percent of the administrative staff are not working or WFH all day) and we have been very careful to take steps (PPE, frequent disinfecting of all surfaces, social distancing and masks at the office for those of us still here) to safeguard our remaining passengers (about 20-25% of normal) and our staff. We have also tried to be transparent with our customers and staff with frequent briefings and we keep evolving with newer, stricter health recommendations as they have been happening.
      To answer the original question, the biggest challenge we face, those of us doing management jobs in essential industries, is the perception that we are still not doing everything we can for our staff and their families. They want us to shut down the system but they want us to pay them their full wages while they are at home, a fiscal impossibility. They want us to provide the ones who are working their fulltime work, even though there is literally much less work to go around. Because of union rules, they want those with seniority to get the best work, even though that isn’t always possible, nor is it equitable for the lower seniority staff who also need to work.
      It is challenging everywhere, but I still know that we are, in essential industries, very fortunate to be working and, although there are no guarantees, we are fortunate that we have a higher likelihood than many to still have a job when some semblance of normalcy returns.
      I am very grateful and I try to express it by working as hard as I can to do the jobs of several people and step up instead of bringing people down, and to leave my anxiety about risk to my family or myself if infected at the door.

      1. Thankful for Safe Transit*

        Thanks so much for your work Barbara. It’s a big deal to get that reassurance.

  15. Cupcake*

    My biggest worry is that my coworkers reporting to the office with me may not be isolating in the off work hours, potentially bringing the virus into the work place. There is no reasonable way to keep all shared surfaces clean. I am avoiding our kitchen completely, but the restrooms and the doors throughout the building are cleaned at night.
    I am thankful to still be working, to have my regular income while many others don’t. But it is hard. I am frustrated by how this virus has been politicized. Its polarizing our work group and spotlighting our differences in values in big ways. We are also stressed, so there are raw nerves. These are not my family members and I do not trust them to be safe. So I set up visual reminders at my cube: posters that say 6 feet please, I put my trash and recycle bins at the edge of my cube to keep folks from walking into my space. I will be so glad when this is over.

    1. Alabama "essential" worker*

      This.

      I work in marketing for a commercial construction company. For the last six weeks, all I’ve heard from higher ups is that it’s “business as usual”. We are an essential business, so we are still open. My department and several others are fully capable of doing 100% of our jobs from home, but we are mandated to come into the office because “not everybody can work from home” and “it’s not fair if some people do and not others”.

      There is a lot of emphasis on personal responsibility and social distancing, which is impossible to achieve in our office. Every day or two they post signs saying “you can’t control what your co-workers do outside of work so take care of yourself” basically.

      They added a little bit of extra leave time and then immediately posted a notice saying that people were using it and this was a major problem and this is why we aren’t allowed flexibility during regular work.

      The sickness policy is “stay at home if you feel sick” and the Exec VP tells us all his temperature every morning. The company does not provide sick leave and you earn one week of vacation per year for your first three years, then two weeks until you hit a decade. The company calls itself a “family”.

      The notifications that are posted are extremely poorly written, have terrible grammar, ignore the problem, and insist that everything is fine (but also everything is not fine, and it’s ON US, the underpaid employees, to prevent our own layoffs).

      They hired a special cleaning person who wipes down the shared coffee machine and the execs’ offices.

      I am furious that non-essential people are not being permitted to work from home when it is possible, and furious at management for their willful ignorance. Another higher-up said “there are no right or wrong decisions during times of crisis” while explaining to us why we could not work from home.

      It’s a bad scene.

      1. Jojo*

        Non essential people still working need to file a complaint with the attorney general office or department of labor

    2. Flustered*

      Absolutely, this is my biggest concern as well. It’s great that my work (a healthcare facility) is ramping up screening measures for patients, eliminating visitors, etc., but the management has no idea what employees are doing in their off hours! I had a coworker tell me that he was driving several states over to visit a relative. (This wasn’t a deathbed situation, it was just to spend time with each other). Another coworker has been having their kids practice their band instruments with friends in the neighborhood. This is majorly concerning given how tight our workspace is. (Also, the harm to other employees & patients could be completely avoidable if management let these workers and anyone else who can telework/provide telehealth work from home!).

    3. Banker chick*

      Exactly- I work in a bank and reporting as usual. I hear coworkers talking about visiting family or daily trips to Walmart. One coworker was even talking about visiting parents and dying her mom’s hair.

      We are not social distancing and the clients who come in don’t either. Plexiglass is “on order”.

      We only get “cleaning” every other day. I do more cleaning than the cleaners. But only as much as I can fit in around other duties. We are even busier than usual.

      It is frightening.

  16. Schnapps*

    Rotating work from home, along with my partner (mostly opposite days). We have a 10yo whose school is closed. My job is such that I’m not *quite* an essential service, but I have to be present for certain legal reasons.

    Alison, thanks for making this thread. I see a lot of “Help, what do I do with my kids when I’m stuck at home with them” and “I’m bored and over this” on social media and it’s a bit aggravating. When you’re the biggest danger to your family (because I still take public transit occasionally), you constantly wonder, “Is this the day I bring it home? Is that headache because of stress, allergies, or something else?” It makes me a bit resentful of those who can stay home, or are forced to stay home – my concerns are different and there’s not much space for them out there.

  17. Manon*

    I’m a grocery store cashier: please, please observe distancing measures inside buildings- ie: following one-way aisles, spacing out lines, and wearing masks. A lot of people are completely ignoring these things.

    On a personal note, I don’t know how to feel about people thanking me for continuing to work. I get that it comes from a good place but don’t really have a choice and frankly I would prefer not to have to take a bus and be exposed to hundreds of people every day. The thank-yous and planned clapping for essential workers just come across as empty gestures.

    1. Justme, The OG*

      I’ve seen it posted on social media that the workers we are now calling essential are the workers that we previously didn’t think should be making a living wage. Not to get political, but I hope that changes after November.

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        Seriously. This is all such a graphic demonstration of just who our society needs to have working in order to continue to function. That should be valued by everyone, regardless of political persuasion — you don’t have to be a leftist to appreciate having the trash collected!

      2. Manon*

        The fact that we’re being praised as “heroes” who are sacrificing for everyone’s good while only being paid $9-11 an hour (even in my unionized store in a major city) is just disgusting. Most of these jobs are low-skill and easy to replace, sure, but if we’re “essential” then pay us like we actually matter.

        1. Windchime*

          That is for sure. My son’s grocery store has given them a temporary $2/hour raise. That’s nice, but why not pay him a living wage *all* the time, instead of just now? The only reason he’s getting it now is because Walmart and Target also raised their wages, and they knew people would leave the grocery store for the higher wage.

          I’m hoping that he gets to keep the raise. Because it’s really sad that $2/hour extra makes such a big difference to him.

        2. Sandangel*

          I’m just barely “essential”. One of my departments happens to include pet food, but my main area is toys. Why am I at work organizing hot wheels and Legos during a literal pandemic?

        3. halfmanhalfshark*

          I used to work as an admin assistant and every admin professional’s day, it’s like “Okay, thanks for the plant, I guess, but can I please have health insurance?”

          1. No health insurance either.*

            halfmanhalfshark, that’s real talk. This is coming from a nurse that works part time, and thus, also doesn’t have health insurance. What a scary time to be an essential worker. I’m thankful for the crisis pizza, but I would truly be more thankful for paid sick leave in such a time as this.

      3. AnonoDoc*

        This.

        I am getting well paid AND I absolutely signed up for this.

        But we all need the janitors (hello — they are just as critical to our health care system as us doctors and nurses!), as well as the grocery store workers, the truck drivers, the farmers, the warehouse workers. And the initial epidemic in Washington State is a great example of why paying the workers in our nursing homes less-than living wages is dangerous for us all. Same for child care workers.

        But really, we need to treat everyone who is getting the work done with respect and decent wages AND good health insurance!

    2. ThatGirl*

      I read somewhere that casting grocery store workers and so forth as “heroes” helps us shed responsibility as a society — makes it seem like you’re choosing a sacrifice instead of just trying to make a living.

      I appreciate our grocery store workers SO MUCH (along with all the healthcare workers, of course) but I don’t want to slap a label on you to make myself feel better. It sucks and I’m sorry you can’t stay home.

      Question: I have a neighbor who is some sort of stock manager at our local store (I don’t know his exact job title, but I see him helping to direct/stock in the dairy section a lot) — is there any small token I could give him to show some appreciation that wouldn’t feel hollow or condescending?

      1. Sara*

        In response to your question: instead of giving him something, can you just ask him if there’s anything you can do? Or drop off a card offering your help? Honestly, I’m working really long hours right now (healthcare), and I would love one of my neighbors to offer to check on my dog or mow my lawn.

        1. ThatGirl*

          His wife is home (she’s a teacher) to walk the dog and our HOA takes care of the lawns, but I can definitely offer my assistance with anything she/they might need help with.

      2. Grits McGee*

        I’ve heard the same thing about active duty military in the US- we make big public declarations about their heroism to obscure the fact that many soldiers’ families rely on food stamps to survive.

        1. Jojo*

          My son and his wife have 3 kids. They were on food stamps. Cuz they the area would not hire military spouses. They figured they would just leave so not worth the money to train them. His wife a nurse. Now they in Kansas. No base housing so she got hired.

    3. Myrin*

      I’ve said before and I’ll say it again and again (and I’ll also repeat it to a supervisor if I have to) because I’m pissed: It means literally zero, dear founder-of-the-drugstore-I-work-at-and-billionaire, if you send out a new email every week asserting how earnestly you send a big THANK YOU to all of your workers if at the same time you’re cutting hours but not cutting opening hours, and thereby cutting pay even though the revenue is actually the same as during normal times, not enforcing stricter rules in your actual shops, and make sure to cut costs at every corner. I do not feel appreciated by your stupid Thank You fliers!

    4. GroceryDrone*

      I work in a grocery store too and I’m with you on the thank you for being here performances. Like we’re only there because they won’t stay home! The part of the store that I’ve been working is also completely non-essential (dude nobody needs $30 cheese right now, and we have to cut it all in house and hand wrap each piece) and it drives me absolutely crazy being thanked for doing a job that is just putting everyone, workers and customers alike, at extra risk. Stocking toilet paper, frozen goods, produce I get. Making pizzas and cakes and coffee not so much.

      1. TootsNYC*

        if this helps: When people buy that cheese, and eat it, it means they’re not eating food from some other department, and so it’s available for someone else to buy

        1. GroceryDrone*

          Sure, that’s true, but also from a risk standpoint- I see how these products are stored and handled. Many of them are not wrapped at all in storage and handled by multiple people, then whatever has touched the rind, once it’s cut, contaminates the inside. Some of these pieces are getting up I’m wrapped then rewrapped. As much as employees try to wash their hands and change gloves do I see people go outside the department with their gloves on for just a second, come back in without changing them and keep working? Totally. I get this kind of thing is a problem in areas like produce as well but I think reducing risk where you can is important. Like instead of having 50 varieties maybe just do the most popular 10? As a whole I don’t agree with how my company has handled this pandemic at all, so these little things start to bug.

          1. Cheese Witness*

            Your situation is spookily close to the situation we’re facing at the grocery store where I work. We have a large and very swanky cheese selection that customers (banned from entering the store, but still shopping over the phone/online) are still ordering from, and a very, very small space to cut and wrap the cheeses in, so the cheesemongers are practically on top of each other behind this tiny counter trying to cut, weigh, and wrap cheese– all while other staff members are barging through their space on the way to other parts of the store!

            The frantic pace of having to fill orders all day when the store was never designed to be significantly, let alone exclusively, take-out/delivery isn’t helping. I haven’t personally seen any glove/hygiene slips, but there’s just so much chaos that things can’t be perfect. It feels like all of us are on borrowed time when it comes to avoiding the virus. I don’t even work in the cheese section, and I’ve still been feeling shaky and panicky before going in to work. It’s not a safe situation for any of us– or for customers.

      2. Jojo*

        Stuff in short supply. I bought a couple of expensive alternatives cuz i can afford it. Left the less expensive for those that have a smaller budget or food stamps.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ve always admired cashiers and anyone who deals with the general population. So I’m quick to just say “Why haven’t you been thankful and being decent this entire time?”

      I thank everyone who gives me a service. I always have and to just now to make a show out of it feels empty AF just an outsider. I can’t imagine what you feel as a cashier in these times and now suddenly being respected by the same people who ignored you and acted messy before.

    6. Sapphire*

      Everyone applauding grocery store cashiers and fast food workers for putting themselves in danger for the sake of capitalism so they don’t starve and become homeless should instead campaign for living wages and universal basic income for times of crisis.

      1. Blueberry*

        Word. I keep wanting to say this to certain people in my life who told me how ridiculous it was for me to write letters supporting raising the minimum wage, etc, and are now carrying on about the “heroes” keeping our society going.

      2. Hats Are Great*

        We’ve got a local “Remember in November” campaign going on whenever people are like THANKS GROCERY WORKERS! We’re like, yeah, cool, and we ARE very thankful, but if you want to express that sincerely, REMEMBER IN NOVEMBER and vote accordingly.

    7. Sam I Am*

      I was surprised how few workers at the grocery store near me had masks on.
      When I got home I called the store manager and said as much. He said they’re all welcome to wear masks, I repeated myself, he repeated himself.
      Then I said the super local (mom& pop thus more expensive / less variety) grocery had all their employees wearing the masks that work best for them and I’d try to spend my money there for the immediate future.
      IDK.

      1. Flustered*

        It really bothers me that stores in my area aren’t going to greater lengths to equip employees with masks and gloves. Given the prices that masks are costing these days, even one “homemade” mask from Etsy could exceed what a supermarket cashier makes in an hour (especially if you’re in a state like mine, that still has the $7.25 minimum wage!). They should not have to spend their limited money to provide themselves with basic protective equipment. Their supervisors and corporate offices (when applicable) need to prioritize buying this for their staff.

    8. Ciela*

      I was so happy the day I found TP, and also the day my grocery store had fresh meat. No meat? Is everyone suddenly a carnivore?

      I did thank the people stocking those sections. After 3 weeks with neither, just having that jumbo pack of double-ply made me feel, for just a minute, that things were getting better.

      My husband and I are both also still working at work, and I do understand that terror of having to go outside.

      1. Eleanor Konik*

        Everyone is suddenly eating at *home* instead of eating *out* it’s not that people are evil hoarders, it’s that previously we spent half of our waking hours minimum outside of our homes, using corporate toilet paper and eating at cafeterias or restaurants, etc.

        1. Ciela*

          That is so obvious now, thanks. :)

          I guess I somehow thought that since we most always eat at home anyway, most other people did too.

          Our local steakhouse started last week, week before (?) selling uncooked cuts of meat for people to grill / broil at home.

  18. Scary Times*

    I work in a manufacturing facility that is classified as essential because we provide products and services to essential businesses that need us to stay open. However, these clients account for only about 25% of our total revenue/book of business. All other orders have ceased due to the shelter-in-place orders here, so our business is running so lean you can see our ribs. This means all of us still must come in to work and risk exposure every day, in a warehouse facility (I’m HR and not authorized to work from home, also not salaried), and now our hours have been reduced to a trickle and obviously bonuses are nixed (overtime and monthly bonuses account for roughly 50% of my income).

    I can’t help but be a little irritated by the fact that our salaried folks are working safely from home (mostly inside sales), not taking any financial hits, and I (as the payroll person) am still going to be paying out 5 and 6 figure bonuses for our execs this month. I’ve been here almost 8 years and always thought my company was a good one to work for, despite issues with my direct boss, but this is making me question that hard.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m profoundly grateful to still have any income coming in at all, particularly when so many others don’t, but I know many of my guys live paycheck-to-paycheck as the only income earner for their families, and I’m worried some of them won’t be okay.

    1. Joy*

      As someone who knows nothing about bonuses, how the heck are they structured that they could still be paid out when revenue is down 75%?? I could see commission for past sales already made, but bonuses for execs when you’re running that leans seems…both insane and impossible.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        It depends how the program is structured. The way my company does it it like this… made up numbers for ease.

        There are at least two common bonus structures… set amount or 10% of annual salary. Both are based on meeting financial goals. So for this explanation, let’s say the company made 75% of the goal.

        If Worker Wally was under the set amount they are given the eligible amount at the start of the year, $100. If the company hits the goal they’d get $100, if the company only achieved 75% then the bonus paid out would be $75. The same goes in the other direction. If the company exceeded the goal by 10%, than Worker Wally would get a check for $110

        The percentage amounts work the same way… but the starting point is the eligible % of salary.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          ETA… hit post too soon.

          I’m also pretty confident that if my company was facing truly dire straights they’d not pay out the incentives, but they’ve already budgeted the money from the ‘base’ standpoint, so for a slightly lean year they still pay them out. I’m sure there is a downward limit though which would trigger them to suspend the program.

          I’m curious this year what will happen. We’re a cyclical type company, and this was the first year in a long time we missed our projected numbers significantly (we just had our fiscal year close a couple of weeks ago) so the impact from the virus was negligible… I did tell my husband not to expect great things from my bonus this year. But I’ve seen percentages anywhere from 85-109% payed out.

      2. Scary Times*

        @Joy, we have what we call “incentives” for most employees which are based on performance AND profit margin together and are paid out monthly. When things are good, this is a HUGE benefit to working here. When things are bad…well, let’s just say many of our employees depend heartily on those. Those incentives will be diminishing or going away entirely. These incentives, however, are separate from our executive team “bonus” payouts which occur quarterly and have not ceased at this time and were previously factored into the annual budget. These are more like static lump sum tack-ons to the executive team salaries.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They won’t authorize you to work from home…but you’re still authorized to do payroll. I just can’t with this kind o BS. I’d be done with this place of clowns once this clears up. You have 8 years of experience at least. Go somewhere else when the economy allows it. THIS IS NOT normal.

      They trust me with HR/Payroll/bank account, they sure the hell trust me to work remotely. JFC! I’m so mad reading this. They’re tacky and it’s showing.

      1. Scary Times*

        Thanks for the support. I wish I could say more about my particular situation, but it’s probably wise not to, since you never know who is reading. But I do appreciate the righteous anger on my behalf!

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          No need to put out identifying information! I “know” these “types” and therefore I don’t need details, my experience tells me plenty. *growls*

    3. Marshbilly, not Hillbilly*

      I also work for a company that does “essential” (I’m rolling my eyes!) manufacturing, and I’m appalled at all the breaks/help that the salaried people get (after their hand was forced, obvs., and salaried includes myself) – working from home, full pay if we catch the virus and run out of sick/vacation time, etc. Our hourly guys can’t stay home, can’t get written information on what they are supposed to do if they get sick (and run out of sick time), management gets annoyed when they point out issues (e.g. people congregating at the time clock), and our HR Representative has no idea how unemployment works.

      I’m trying to advocate for the hourly employees and help where I can, but it’s hard to do anything when our corporate leaders are being jerks.

    4. Hats Are Great*

      My dad is a top executive at an essential manufacturing place (their stock is up b/c they’re getting more orders than usual right now) and it is absolutely KILLING him to be working from home while the factory floor workers have to go in. He’s always been a huge advocate that the salaried people should take the first cuts and shouldn’t get special treatment — every place he’s worked, gotten rid of reserved parking spots for executives, because he’s like “THE PERK IS YOU GET PAID SIX FIGURES, let the factory guys park closest if they get here first!” — and has generally raised pay for hourly workers and expanded stock options to the factory floor and so on throughout his career.

      There is zero reason for him to be on-site and he KNOWS it and he knows that he’d be putting others at MORE risk by being there, but he hates that the factory floor employees are putting themselves at risk while he’s sitting at home because his job can be done on a computer. It’s making him super-antsy and my mom is finding him impossible to live with.

      At least he’s in a position where he has the power to ensure employees who do get sick are taken good care of and get paid when not working so they don’t feel like they have to come in sick and put others at risk, and he’s able to waive basically all the corporate policies about sick pay and PTO and everything else. Apparently the senior executives have been taking it in turns to send in boxed lunches for the whole factory because they’re pretty frustrated there’s not much else they can do.

      1. Hats Are Great*

        (My dad’s dad was a factory worker so my dad has spent a lot of his career being like “the way you say thank you to your factory floor workers is with raises and better benefits.”)

  19. Bella Ciao*

    Local public sector worker. It’s honestly very much the same–go to work, do what needs to be done. Wash your hands, wipe down a lot. Most of us are on short schedules but we need to work and it can’t be done. Road workers, law enforcement, dispatchers, people in the local clerk’s office, treasurer, etc. ALl work that needs to be done.

  20. Wendy*

    I work in a homecare office. I’m still getting up and coming into the office, I’m still here for 40 hours a week. Even though there is less to do, we’re still required to be here for when work does come in.

    So no, various relatives and friends I haven’t started any cleaning or craft projects, no I’m not cooking wonderfully elaborate meals, no I’m not exercising more. I get up, go to work, come home (hopefully to a meal my husband has cooked), turn into a couch zombie while I play with my cat and then go to bed. Then I do the same thing the next day. All the while wondering if I have enough insulin for the next couple of months and trying not to panic about the massively high chance a diabetic like me will die if I catch this stupid thing.

    1. TomorrowTheWorld*

      I’ve started trying to have a few days a week where I don’t take the full prescribed dose of pain medications. It’s been awful but at least I’ll have something for when I can’t have anything.

  21. Ftontline worker*

    I’m a frontline residential provider for folks will developmental disabilities. My agency has had to issue a lot of restrictions for clients and staff over the last few weeks because of the last few weeks. No visitors, management does grocery shopping, sanitize all surfaces every shift, cloth masks at work. Many clients have had their activities and day programs canceled because of the virus, thereby having their routines interupted.
    It has been a huge challenge keeping clients entertained while they are stuck indoors.
    Then again you have signs telling you to stay at home and the internet suggesting outfits for social distancing (mainly sweats and other loungewear.) I can’t show up at work wearing pajamas, especially with management coming around more often.

    1. ThatGirl*

      My brother lives in a group home three hours from me (near our mom, thankfully). He is doing OK but I think it’s hard for him not to be able to go bowling with his buddies or see my mom on weekends. THANK YOU for everything.

    2. Barb*

      May I say thank you? My sister has Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease and lives in a group home. We haven’t been able to visit her for the past month. I’m so afraid she won’t recognize us when we see her again.
      Our family is so grateful for the staff that have been caring for her, especially during this terrible time. You all have such a difficult job during the best of times. My sister’s people have been so loving and affectionate with her.

      I too am an essential worker at both of my jobs.

    3. Llellayena*

      I’ve got a friend working a similar job (basically “house mother”) and most of his residents are elderly as well, so high risk. I have this buzz of worry in the back of my head for him. Both for the standard risk exposure and the staffing shortages that make him need to work extra shifts (tired people don’t fight illness as well). Good luck to you.

    4. Working with me is PUNishment*

      Hi! I work for an association that represents long-term care facilities so we are hearing about a lot of activities that our facilities are doing to keep people, frankly, sane. I’m not sure if this will help at all, but I just figured I would share.

      I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be honest. A couple of activities that I have seen are hallway bingo, having family members visit through a cracked open window, taping a tic tac toe board on the window and having family members come and play tic tac toe with residents, writing cards, letters, and coloring pictures to send to other long-term care facilities.

      Perhaps consider making an Amazon shopping list with things like coloring books, Kindles (for Skype visits), and any other activities that your residents enjoy and encourage family/friends to consider donating?

      Hang in there. The work you are doing is so important.

    5. Em*

      I’m in a similar situation! I’m dining staff at a nursing home, and our residents are naturally very angry with us, because about half of them don’t really understand the severity of “there’s a pandemic, your family can’t come in right now, and you can’t go shopping”. It’s obviously not our fault, but they yell at us regardless, because they have nothing else to do.
      Entertainment is super important – my biggest concern is that there’s a very real mental decline that happens when an elderly person is isolated without much human contact, and there’s only so much my workplace can do.
      My job has been… really, really hard, considering that we have to personally deliver every meal ourselves. I guess I should be grateful to have a job at all, but mostly I’m just frustrated and tired. There’s this weird game of, “Oh, you think /you’re/ tired? Well, try being a nurse/doctor/etc!” and it’s driving me crazy! Everyone is tired, everyone is cranky, and we’re all just taking it one day at a time.
      (On a positive note: If you have elderly parents or grandparents – please, call them! You’d be amazed at how much more lucid our residents are after talking to a family member for just ten minutes!)

      1. Working with me is PUNishment*

        Thank you so much for the work you’re doing. You are helping residents through an incredibly confusing, trying, and infuriating time. While yes, doctors and nurses are obviously busy and have more on their plate, so do you. Your work is essential. And second that to the contacting people in long-term care! I started volunteering with an organization called Virtual Visit Friend and volunteers set up times to video call strangers in nursing homes. It is a great program. Otherwise if you have some young kids home from school, maybe write letters to nursing homes or color pictures for the residents. Another thing we have seen is people putting out giant yard signs outside of some of our member facilities to wish residents well during this time.

    6. Mama Bear*

      I have relatives in assisted living and there’s no more outside entertainment, no outings, etc. We can’t even see them through the window because they live on a higher floor. THANK YOU for all you do. I am sure it’s not easy right now.

      1. Working with me is PUNishment*

        That is so difficult, I am sorry. If you can, I have seen a lot of families standing outside their family members window with giant signs to say hello, just coordinate with the facility to make sure that they see it. Skype video chats are great too as are just normal old fashioned hand written letters. It really helps to brighten their spirits.

    7. Three Cats in a Trench Coat*

      Would they be able to allow you to wear scrubs? Not that accumulating a new wardrobe during a crisis is easy, but there is definitely an argument to be made for easy to laundry fabrics to reduce infection spread.

      I’m currently at a psychiatric hospital, and they’ve relaxed the dress code rules such that everyone can wear scrubs or jeans for exactly that reason – even my program director, who I had previously NEVER seen without a tie* is wearing jeans when he’s doing admin work or scrubs if he has to go onto a unit.

      *No one wears a tie in a psychiatric hospital unless they are VERY devoted to wearing ties

      1. AnonoDoc*

        Yes, I am normally a stickler for no scrubs outside of OR/procedure rooms/ICU, need to wear professional attire (but no I am not at Mayo and that does not mean a suit) but now it is scrubs for all patient contact.

  22. Bubbe*

    I also want to thank all of those on the front lines. I’m working from home and feel lucky to be doing so.

    My husband, however, works for a grocery store. And they’ve been asking everyone to work overtime. He’s worked 50-60 hours a week for the past month.

    And every day he brings home stories of customers who just. can’t. stay. six feet away from him. It’s infuriating…and scary.

    1. Windchime*

      My son also works in a grocery store. His hands are cracked and starting to bleed from using so much hand sanitizer. He’s also wearing gloves, but still. They put up shields at the checkstands, but the customer has to move beyond the shield to get to the debit card machine. So the shields don’t do much good. Add on top of that the people who are mean and snotty to him because there is no TP on the shelf…….it’s a thankless job.

      1. Anono-me*

        If your son can get hold of this stuff called Corona Cream, he may find it helpful. (I know it’s a horrible name right now.) It’s similar to an udder balm and available at most major drug stores and super stores. It is in a bright yellow container with black writing and a red lid. It has worked wonders for us when we’ve had really dry skin. Slather it on it bedtime put on gloves or socks over it to keep it from making a mess. (The stuff feels like axel grease.)

        I wish there was more I could do (I do work hard to stay out of the way, advocate for curbside/delivery with management and advocate for tipping where possible with everyone else.)

  23. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

    Public defender here: in it until they stop charging people with crimes.

    Recent ray of hope: I found spots in an essential worker daycare for my kids! Otherwise it’s so hard to socially distance. We have space to move around, but I just want to clean all the things all the time. I’m trying to get fabric masks, but I’m terrible at sewing.

    1. periwinkle*

      With the current supply chain prioritization, Etsy sellers who normally create clothes or tote bags are finding it difficult to order new fabric for their usual wares. Face masks are a great way to use up the smaller scraps they already have on hand – and you’ll find plenty of them available on Etsy for immediate shipping.

      I bought four face masks from a local Etsy vendor (from whom I had already purchased some gorgeous small totes – Rockabella Bags in the Seattle area) and they arrived in 2 days.

      My crafting ability is roughly on par with my skill at floating in mid-air. Thank goodness for Etsy.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yup, etsy is a great source right now, just search for what you want and then narrow down by your state and you should get it pretty quickly, most people seem to be charging $5-8 for one mask and discount if you buy more than one. Some retailers are also selling them, but most are out of stock from what I’ve seen – Vera Bradley is one.

    2. Evan Þ.*

      I’ve heard that courts in a lot of states have been closed down; has that affected you?

      1. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

        Yes and no. We are closed to jury trials, but open for emergency hearings, like bonds and sentencings. If someone needs to see a judge to get out of jail and back home, we’re managing thanks to technology.

    3. Creed Bratton*

      If you have any old or sacrificial pairs of leggings it’s easy to make a no sew mask that actually covers your face and is comfortable. Youtube had enough videos that even I made something functional.

      And if there’s every a time to let your inner germaphobe loose – now is the time :)

    4. AD*

      I am also terrible at sewing. A friend suggested I try a hot glue gun, and that seems to work well enough.

    5. MoopySwarpet*

      I made a couple masks using a t-shirt. Basically, cut off the neck leaving an ink or so at the bottom of the sleeves. (Keeping the shirt as a full tube.) Use the sleeve bottoms to tie the t-shirt around your face. Cut off the rest of the shirt about 6-7 inches below the sleeves. I didn’t do anything with the bottom, but you could probably cut tabs to tie around the bottom, too.

      There are also videos about making a bandana and rubber band (or hair tie) into a mask just by folding.

    6. NJ Anon*

      Look for the youtube link from the us surgeon general on how to make diy masks. I thought it was genius. No sewing needed.

    7. Destroyer of Typos*

      Thank you for your work!! A friend of mine is a public defender as well, but had to give up her entire case load and switch to a department that allows video court because she’s pregnant and can no longer visit jail. Hope you can stay healthy in all of this.

      1. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

        Thank you! I hate that I’m essential, because it means that people are stuck in jail for pointless reasons, but we’ve seen populations tick downward. (note: I agree that people charged with certain crimes probably shouldn’t be returned to the general public, but we aren’t releasing everyone else in my jurisdiction, so I continue to work.)

    8. fhqwhgads*

      Do you have a hot glue gun? I was mulling over the whole “terrible at sewing” thing myself, after an attempt at one of the no-sews did not work at all. It occurred to me I have hot glue and could probably do the sew pattern but hot glue it instead of sewing. Haven’t tried it yet, but seems worth a go.

      1. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

        I don’t have a hot glue gun, I am seriously regretting it. I am scouring etsy and a few of my craftier friends. (I’m a knitter, not a sewer, and no, the skills don’t translate….)

    9. Onyx*

      I’m terrible at sewing too, I was able to find two masks at a local dry cleaners. They were sewing masks to help supplement lost income. Might be worth checking out!

  24. Count Boochie Flagrante*

    Financial services professional here, still going into the office mostly out of choice. The sense of unreality and dissociation is so intense. My day-to-day life is really minorly impacted — I live alone and I’m a homebody anyway, I’m just settling into a new role at work so I don’t have a previous workflow to be disrupted by the pandemic specifically, I go to and from the office, to and from the grocery store, and otherwise stay home even under normal circumstances. The biggest impacts on my life right now are – 1) the cancellation of a couple of intermittent events I was looking forward to, 2) I’m a month overdue for a haircut and starting to get desperate, 3) can’t go visit friends as I would normally do about once a month. But all around me is this incredibly dire news, the streets are almost empty, the office is almost empty, and when I go to the grocery store, there’s measures in place and the rhythm is odd and disrupted. Trying to square my own life rhythms that are so close to being business-as-usual with this tremendous worldwide disruption is so psychologically uncomfortable.

    1. Funeral service worker*

      “ Trying to square my own life rhythms that are so close to being business-as-usual with this tremendous worldwide disruption is so psychologically uncomfortable.”

      This is the best description I’ve seen of what it feels like for me right now. So much of my day-to-day really hasn’t changed and yet Everything Feels Wrong. It’s honestly exhausting.

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        I think of it as sort of a psychological seasickness. You get seasick when your eyes and your inner ears are receiving different inputs that your brain can’t square, and that’s what we’re getting now on an existential level.

        1. pamela voorhees*

          I just want to say this is an incredible analogy that really helped me clarify a lot of how I’m feeling — I’m totally stealing this to use with other folks.

    2. Urn*

      Removed. Not OK here. This is a thread for people who still need to work outside their homes.- Alison

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        Hi, please don’t. You aren’t aware of my personal situation. Staying home is not a good option for me.

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        I don’t want to get terribly detailed, which is why I didn’t put it in the post, but for disability-related reasons as well as some technical issues that my employer won’t cover and I can’t afford to, I would not be able to work effectively at home.

        1. Blueberry*

          I’m sorry people are asking you this question, especially since Allison asked them NOT to. And the way you described the current dislocation is very palpable.

          1. Lana Kane*

            I did not see Alison’s request posted when I asked my question.

            Count, I apologize if my question came across insensitively. It was a genuine question, as there’s been so much emphasis on not being at work unless you’re essential.

            1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

              Nah, you were fine. People telling me they’re judging me or that I don’t really count as an essential worker because I’m in an office instead of healthcare or food, that I object to.

              1. Jojo*

                Office work can also be essential. The nurse cannot put a bandaid on the booboo unless someone releases the money to purchase it and someone else orders it. Stupid analogy but you get my point

    3. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      I’m with you on trying to square a mostly normal day-to-day with all the disruption. My hours have been cut to part-time (along with all other FT workers at my lab) to prevent anybody from getting laid off, and I feel the money pinch since I live alone and far away from family (other side of the country).

      I’m an essential worker still going into work, but even during normal times I was rarely within 6ft of my co-workers (I have my own office, and my work duties don’t overlap with anyone except the bosses). I already did grocery pick-up (ordering ahead of time means no impulse buying, and having it delivered to my car because I’m lazy…), and never went out and about anywhere really.
      But now, I can’t see the couple friends that I like to hang with in person now and again (virtually is NOT the same), and I miss going out to a movie, or bowling a few games by myself.

      It’s hard to allow myself to recognize that my depression has come down really hard right now due to the constant low-level stress I’m experiencing because so many people are in far worse places than I am. I can’t even get motivated to do all the projects people talk about doing while at home.

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        Yeah, this is a really rough time for mental health issues. Mine have been acting up pretty badly, and it’s tough to wrestle with. I think any MI or neurodivergence that includes dissociation as a symptom is basically gonna be three times the bear it usually is until things can go back to something more normal.

    4. Spcepickle*

      I am right there with you. My biggest life change is my yoga class moved so zoom. I also need a hair cut.
      The analogy of sickness is going to stick with me.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Your day-to-day activity levels sound like mine. I feel fortunate that I truly enjoy my home and I enjoy being here. I can make some lemonade out of one or two lemons at any rate, which is more than many people can do. I give thanks for that regularly.

      I have two older friends that I check on daily or every other day. I have another friend who checks on me regularly and several friends that check randomly. I am just. so. grateful for all this.

      I work alone and I am told I am essential. But the news changes daily, and I have concluded I am essential until I am deemed not essential. The state has taken away certain tasks from our arena and we are forbidden to do X or Y. So I don’t do those tasks. I work alone in my office. There are only a couple of other people in my building. We have plenty of wipes and sanitizer. Everyone is thoughtful of each other and they remain pleasant. This is a bfd, it’s made a huge difference for me.

      I worry about others. I worry about what the panic will do to our community/nation. The only thing i have come up with so far is to stay sharp and keep on top of my own concerns. Plus, I keep checking on those around me who are vulnerable now. This may sound semi-generous but in actuality it helps me to stay pulled together more. The people I help are actually helping me.

  25. bunniferous*

    My job is considered essential but thankfully does not involve contact with humans since I am going out to vacant hospitals. But I have a husband at high risk at home, plus we are both over 60
    I am very aware of my responsibility to not bring the virus home and it weighs heavily on me.

          1. The Original K.*

            There’s one in Philly too; rich guy bought it, closed it, and now wants $1M a month to open it up. Philly isn’t going to pay that, so it sits empty.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            My hospital system has 16 statewide, and only one of them has gotten anywhere near its inpatient capacity.

            1. bunniferous*

              As I mentioned above, that was an autocorrect error but of all the errors it could have been….aaaghhhg

            2. CupcakeCounter*

              If you go to the east side of my state, hospitals are overflowing and several convention centers have been converted into pop-up care centers.
              Over by me, we have 50 confirmed cases and most are at the same hospital.

          3. pamela voorhees*

            My sister lives in a rural area whose hospital closed in January. There’s no equipment in it any more, but they’re going to use it as emergency overflow area if it comes to that since it’s better than a gym or a tent in a field.

        1. OKCer*

          Not just rural areas.

          In Oklahoma City, they just closed down a hospital except for the ER, Radiology, and Infusion. Since elective surgeries/procedures are halted, there’s really not the demand for the rest. And there are other hospitals nearby that are handling the COVID-19 patients. Keep in mind, we are officially only at 1685 positive cases/80 deaths for the whole state. So everywhere’s not NYC….

          https://kfor.com/news/local/integris-baptist-closing-portland-ave-location-during-covid-19-outbreak/

      1. Alice*

        A great deal of “normal” elective surgery — and that’s not just elective like cosmetic surgery, that’s elective surgery like knee replacements — was cancelled or postponed, as some cancer treatments have been. Many fewer car accidents are happening. And it looks like quite a few of the people who are having strokes and heart attacks at home are not presenting at the emergency room. So, there will be a lot of worse health outcomes than normal, and a lot lower revenue for hospitals than normal.
        On the plus side, the decease in air pollution with changing transportation patterns means that there will be fewer asthma patients, etc., who need medical care.

  26. James*

    I’ve spent most of the pandemic at a job site doing environmental remediation. For my part, the virus hasn’t changed much–we’re used to invisible things that can make us very ill, we’re used to PPE protocols and decontamination and the like, and frankly no one wants to be near us anyway (our office is at a hazardous waste storage facility, and we’re dealing with toxic materials). Our teams are small by necessity, and we already stay 6′ apart as a matter of routine. The virus is just one more item on the list of reasons to do what we do. I don’t mean to downplay the virus–it’s just that when you’re used to working in an environment where the soil causes chemical burns if it touches you, the air can randomly become toxic due to fumes, and everything is trying to kill you anyway, a new threat is more or less routine. You become sort of numb to this sort of thing.

    Fewer people means more opportunities for us to get work done, too. We don’t have to work around people the way we usually do.

    The hardest part for me is the family. It’s hard enough on my wife and kids for me to leave for weeks at a time; adding the stress from the pandemic only makes things harder on them. The kids can’t go anywhere, so they’re going stir-crazy, and my wife has to deal with that solo.

  27. Unemployment worker*

    I work for unemployment and so we are moving folks to working from home slowly. But productivity decreases (just literally getting the stuff set up and driving home and all that, even if it’s only an hour, is an hour when you aren’t working on paying people) while you move into a work from home and no one, no one cares about us. People are angry, threating violence, mad that we aren’t paying for things that we can’t pay for, raging that we should have known this was coming and been staffed at levels no one could have possibly paid for before this, and won’t now either. And there are staff (myself included) who will not likely be able to work at home. (We have so much mail, so much mail. SO much mail.)

    And everyone we talk to is out of work or under-employed so we have to be empathetic, and appropriately so. But we are sort of this morass of getting dumped on from all sides and it’s really hard. We have over 25% of staff not working due to covid, everyone who is being asked to help is refusing (because you have 2 options, help the unemployment program, or be paid to sit at home and do nothing). I get that I’m in a better spot than the people we serve. I do. And no “poor me” story matters here. So we just sort of go unheard and quietly sink into serious depression. I’ve had multiple nights at 3 am where I’m far past normal struggles. And I know I’m not the only one.

    And I know that someone is going to come into the comments screaming at me for killing people because I’m going into work physically.

    I’ve never felt so angry at politicians as I do right now. Their answer to everything is essentially “why aren’t you working 24/7 with no extra pay or support?” and then to go on tv and be like “you’ll all get paid tomorrow for everything!” The politicians are all monsters, both parties, everyone. I have nothing but rage and furor for them like I’ve never felt. They don’t care about people, not a single one, not a single bit. Head of our agency stops in and plays at caring, but all he wants is to run for political office and he will destroy every single person who works in this program and not care a single second.

    1. Sara*

      I’m so sorry you have to deal with all that. I work in a hospital, and while we’re stressed out right now I can’t even imagine working in the unemployment office. I can’t offer you anything other than good thoughts but know that you have them.

      1. Unemployment worker*

        It’s strange because my sister is a nurse in an ER in a small, rural, not yet impacted area. She’s gone an entire shift with no one coming in. Which is not something that’s ever happened. Her work right now is much much quieter than normal. It’s a lot of prep, but not sort of the urgency because they aren’t in an area that’s had cases. And I know it isn’t that way in all hospitals, but she and I have this weird kind of contrast in our calls lately. I’m worried about her, but she also has a huge support network.

        1. kt*

          yep. my spouse is a doc, working in a COVID outpatient/screening clinic or doing, like, regular doc stuff.. and no one is coming in for the regular stuff. He’s keeping busy doing telemedicine the whole time. He’s like, hey dude, you’re having trouble swallowing and I’d like to get you a CT — wanna come in tomorrow morning? The machine’s empty and clean! Separate entrance from suspected COVID cases! And patient dude is all, no thanks, I’ll just struggle with swallowing until coronavirus is gone….

          1. Jojo*

            I have allergies. Can not go in to see the doctor. They are all telemed here right now. I called last week, told him what i have and what meds to give me. Of course, the usual for this is prednisone and z pak. Can’t get z pak now because it is all in use or reserve for covid. So he gave me a different antibiotic. One of my kids freinds has the same thing as me. She is afraid to go to the doctor.. she sure looked relieved when i told her they are all doing telemed here now because we have a small out break in our area.

        2. WS*

          Yeah, I work in pharmacy in a small, rural, not yet impacted area. Everyone who would normally go to hospital is coming to us instead because they think somehow the pharmacy is going to have fewer sick people than the hospital!

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      My heart clinches for the workers in the unemployment division.

      You are being abused and threatened on a daily basis. That will take a toll on anyone everywhere. Just think of all those social workers who burn out so quickly even though they care so darn much about their vulnerable clients. Unemployment workers are the same category because of the scared and confused people you’re dealing with on an hourly basis.

      Thank you for everything you do. I’m grossed out by how little support and the politicians on your behalf.

      1. Unemployment worker*

        It is absolutely like social workers, except we went into unemployment, which was like a 40 hour a week gig where you answered some calls and made some decisions and handed it off to the next person and you’d maybe get one angry person a week. We were overstaffed before. Lots of time to do training and have potlucks and whatever else. And everything just got ripped away and now you’re in this thing where everyone is panicking and pressing and complaining and it’s nothing that we were ready for.

        It’s asking bureaucrats (lovely ones to be sure!) to become financial first responders overnight.

        (Some of the states who are going to claim firsts in the last few and next few days likely will end up collapsing because they are killing their staff to claim “first in the nation to…” No state was ready for this, no matter what the people on the news are saying about how great they are at responding.)

    3. Creed Bratton*

      I’m sitting here wondering if you’re my mom. Because her situation is exactly the same. The people with the power to make things easier (not perfect, but easier) are making more political promises yet doubling the amount of documentation required and thereby slowing down the process. My mom is very much high risk and is going into the office 50-60 hours a week. They’re still being told that they are required by law to stay open to see anyone who wants to come in for help! But hey – they relaxed the dress code so she can wear jeans now /s

      Stay strong – you are keeping the world going right now.

      1. Unemployment worker*

        Not your mom. A lot of people are in this situation right now. The best thing I have is that we don’t have to see people in person right now. (The union was helpful for that. Management shut it down. Politicians wanted to open back up, unions went OH ABSOLUTELY NOT.)

    4. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      Yes. I’m so sorry. Fellow unemployment worker here. It is mentally and emotionally draining. And there’s no end in sight. And yes, people who filed claims are understandably anxious about when they can expect payment. And yes, we’re “lucky” to be working, and in fact have a fair amount of job security from this. But it does suck. And when things are back to “normal”, we’ll still be dealing with the workload, and the hate from people, and the guilt of “I lost my apartment”/”I couldn’t pay my bills”/”my kids went hungry” and seriously, please just stop this!!!! Yelling at people isn’t helping things get processed faster! Having to explain this to each person who calls in takes precious minutes that add up to time we could have been working to get your claims processed faster! There’s an unimaginable amount of stress that people don’t understand – we WANT to help, we’re TRYING to help, and despite that, we’re getting trashed by people calling in, and people going to the news outlets to say how much we suck. It’s….it’s not great. Please be kind, people. Please. It doesn’t cost you anything, and will help everyone, I promise.

      1. Unemployment worker*

        Yeah, this is going to be long for everyone, but this is the start of the recession/depression that we’ve been holding our breath waiting for so it’s going to be at least 2 years I think to get back to anything like “normal” for unemployment. It’s going to be years of 50 hour weeks. We’ll hopefully start getting staff trained. But we aren’t allowed to let staff take vacation time right now even if they desperately need time off. (I’ve been telling my folks that they can go ahead and take sick if they need some time and we’ll figure it out later, but weirdly if anyone gets wind of that I could get in trouble with the union for doing it.)

        It all feels like such a big mess. And I hate all the people trying to jump the line through politicians who don’t understand. HELP THIS ONE PERSON! Dude, I have 500 other people I can help if you stop telling me how horrible of a person I am because I hadn’t gotten to this person yet. You are the problem.

        I really wish the politicians had to make some damn sacrifices for this. I’m so angry that they are “doing a really great job leading” on the backs of people they are hurting so much.

        1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

          Yep! We are definitely on the same page! I hate, too, that some people who had claims years ago still somehow “happen” to have their adjudicator’s number, and will try to short-cut their way to a solution b/c they can’t get through to the regular phone lines. With all the problems there are, that is surprisingly one of my biggest pet peeves! Hang in there, fellow unemployment worker! I actually had to put a post out on Facebook asking people to post one positive thing for the day earlier this week, because I was so frustrated and having such a bad day, without even mentioning where I work. People were surprisingly great about it, although I did get some cliché answers that were NOT helpful! Reading through the responses did help, so that’s something you could try, if it’s up your alley. Since then, a couple people have actually posted or sent me individual things to make me smile, or that are positive, and I appreciate those people so much!

    5. paxfelis*

      I’m a medical assistant for a large cardiology practice, and for the last almost a month I’ve been one of three or four people asking COVID screening questions before we let anyone into the actual doctor’s offices. We’ve also been temping all the employees before allowing them upstairs to work.

      I’ve encountered some amazingly patient, kind, and appreciative people. Simply wonderful. People who go out of their way to make things easier for my coworkers, when they’re already having a hard time themselves. If I hadn’t believed in angels before, I would now.

      I’ve also encountered some amazingly selfish, thoughtless, and entitled people. If you’re waiting on COVID test results, for the love of all the Muppets (but especially Animal), STAY HOME. And if you think this whole thing is a collective overreaction to the flu, that does NOT mean you are allowed to cough on someone and laugh about it as a means of “injecting levity.”

      Everything is… more. Not more intense, but more of it. We’re laughing more here, but it seems more laughing despite the shadows. We’re making more jokes, and more bad jokes or black humor (I seriously want to find someone who makes buttons so I can have buttons made for the docs and PAs and NPs that say Emergency Holographic Provider). We’re being more complimentary to each other and to the patients. Tempers are shorter, people are getting more upset more often. No tears falling yet, but more tears present.

      I’m going home, getting cleaned up, and taking a nap because I can’t run away and I can’t sleep well at night. And I make fun of Taco Cabana having drive-thru margaritas… but I’m drinking them.

      I’m proud of my coworkers, so inarticulately proud. Every last one of us has decided that their best answer to this is to keep going. Short supplies, reduced hours, more corporate hoops to jump through, and we’re going to keep going.

      So lots of sunshine here, but the Jaws theme keeps getting louder.

      1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

        This was very well-articulated! Here’s hoping you are able to continue to find the coping mechanisms you need!

      2. Peep*

        I know this is minor, but something as “fun” as a button really has the potential to cheer people up. I’ve done a few order of custom buttons on Etsy through a Canadian shop called BayleafButtons (I don’t know why or how I found them, especially considering I’m in the US, but the person very kindly even offered to design the design based on my description of what I wanted!) The expensive part is the tediousness/time and the button machine. I say go for it. You could do it through Etsy, or something like Zazzle… I’d give you $20 bucks towards a button order! Keep drinking those drive through margaritas. Thanks for doing what you’re doing and I hope it gets a little less Jaws.

      3. Tortally HareBrained*

        So minor- but so jealous of your Taco Cabana drive thru right now. They closed the only location in my city about two years ago. No one else has all night tacos. Wishing you well and safety, hoping people continue to positively surprise you, and telling you to enjoy that margarita.

    6. Flustered*

      If you feel comfortable saying so, do you happen to work for PA Unemployment? (No problem if you don’t want to share what state). I’m a PA resident who works in a healthcare facility in a job that could be done from home. My employer is not letting us telecommute despite the facts that other local facilities have our department working from home. A lot of COVID protection effort is being mishandled right now, which makes a lot of employees feel unsafe. If we were to refuse to work due to hazardous conditions, would we be eligible for UC?

      1. Unemployment worker*

        I’m not in PA.

        It does vary from state to state. Honestly a lot of it depends on how your state is handling it. If your state has kind of just thrown up it’s hands and is just paying everyone (a lot of states are this, I don’t know about PA personally) then you’ll be able to collect. Some states, honestly this is a little about your politicians and your beauracrats and your system, if your politicians are more liberal or are talking about paying everyone then you’ll likely be able to collect. Some states that are more conservatives and are talking about integrity are less likely to pay.

        I would hate to tell you to apply and then you don’t get it. But that’s kind of what I’d lean toward. I’d also read the FAQ or other information on the website. If it trends toward words like integrity then I’d be pretty hestitant. If you do apply, make sure you have good documentation around it, when you asked for stuff, that you were denied, etc. It’s also worth looking at bringing up stuff to your state’s reporting people not following the rules.

        1. Flustered*

          Pennsylvania’s Unemployment site is super unclear about if people can claim unemployment due to risk of COVID exposure at work. I called a bunch of employment lawyers for a free consultation in PA, and they gave me mixed answers. It seemed like a lot of them were unsure how to interpret the new guidelines.

          I do suspect that my employer would contest my claim if I decide to not come in until the COVID crisis is “resolved.” They have been putting out frequent memos about all the steps they are taking to reduce COVID exposure. The problem is that there is simply not enough space in many corridors or offices to socially distance. There also are other issues which I won’t get into here. I hope this wouldn’t put a target on my back and make me vulnerable to poor performance reviews or a layoff if I do decide to stop coming in & file.

  28. hmmmm*

    I don’t know if I qualify to answer this question but here it goes.

    I work for a company that is considered essential. Though my job is essential I am in more of a back office for this industry and am able to work from home. However due to everything being so chaotic we are being trained to assist those who HAVE to be in the office. As a result we are juggle working from home for our regular jobs and coming in the office to assist/ be backups to the essential workers in their jobs.

    I have no problem with this set up. My company is taking every precaution and I feel safe. I’m ok with compartmentalizing everything. At home I do tasks ABC; in the office I focus on tasks DEF. My bosses are there for us 24/7 to make everyone comfortable and for no one to feel overloaded.

    I think where I’m struggling is friends and family who are home full time during this crisis. Disclaimer I know my thoughts are not everyone’s opinion; for AAM purposes they are just what I personally am experiencing.

    It seems that some friends are being sent home and not expected to work. They don’t seem to understand that I’m pulling double duty in half the time available and am still expected to meet old and new deadlines. My friends that are working from home, while no doubt are doing amazing in their current situation (which I’m sure has it’s own set of challenges), seem to have a more flexible schedule. I keep getting questions like how come you didn’t answer my text right away; are you making a 7 course meal for dinner tonight; how come you’re not working on home improvement projects; did you binge watch your show. They don’t seem to get that my job/ company continues on a strict business-need-tight-deadlines basis at home and when in the office I don’t have time to even sit down because we’re helping others. Please know I’m not complaining, it’s just I’m not getting laid back workdays that everyone seems to think I am.

    1. Alice*

      Similar over here in some ways. I’m now 100% remote, but also working about 130-150% of my normal workload. Other departments can do maybe 10% of their work remotely, so friends from those teams are filling their time in other ways. I’m glad we’re all safe at home, working a lot or not! And I don’t mind the pictures of seven-course meals so much. But if you send me pictures of your fun trip to the gardening nursery, I am going to judge. The point of being allowed to work from home, or to not-work from home, is to STAY AWAY FROM PEOPLE outside your household as much as possible!
      Writing this out, I wonder if part of the reason I’m annoyed is that I’m subconsciously worried that WFH privileges will be revoked too soon if there’s a perception that some folks are staying home from work, receiving salaries while not working because it’s not possible in their roles, and at the same time not practicing social distancing.

    2. Blueberry*

      I’m really sorry your friends are being so clueless. I hope the insentive questions and expectations go away soon.

    3. TurtleIScream*

      That is the same situation my husband is in. He has (had) a great WFH set up, so he’s the one everyone is calling to help them set theirs up. He’s got clients who need help navigating all the new government requirements for payroll assistance. Everyone who can’t work now wants virtual training because “now we have time!” He’s gained 2 hours a day from not commuting, but is now working 12-13 hour days just to keep up with demands.

  29. Kiwi*

    My husband works at Target and I am working from home and am high risk. He gets home a few hours before my workday is done and is just so tired when he gets back between the extra duties and hisnstress about bringing it home to me. He pretty much sleeps until I’m d9ne working for the day but is so stressed it’s taking a toll on his quality of sleep and health. We’re both grateful he isn’t scheduled for weekends so he at least gets two days to try and unwind.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Retail like this is difficult because people do still need basic stuff. I hope at least they’ve reduced store hours?

        1. Rob aka Mediancat*

          Sure, no one needs an air fryer, a new video game, or patio furniture, but some stuff could qualify as essential or nonessential depending on circumstances; a pair of shoes might be a luxury for some folks, but a necessity for others. Same with a new toaster, say, or a new microwave.

          1. fposte*

            Sure, but some of those inessential areas are nicely concentrated, and we’ve already got a heck of a lot of redundancy in areas that could be controlled for in most municipalities.

            Speaking politically, obviously this is an intensely complicated situation. But if you set that aside and operated epidemiologically, the fact that somebody could need a toaster shouldn’t be enough to keep all of Target open when Home Depot down the street also sells them. And clothing is explicitly nonessential in my state. That doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way forever, so Target can rope that section off for the month and then we’ll see.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I guess VT went that way, with non-essential sales. My friend panicked. “What if my freezer quits? How do I get a new freezer?” Fortunately we are in NYS, it hasn’t hit here yet. Unfortunately his coffee pot and mic quit in the same week so this made his concerns very real for him. I said the best we can do is just stay on top of stuff that we know is broken/not working well and hopefully if they cut non-essential sales we won’t need anything for the moment.

              All this made me reflect. BC (before Covid-19) we had so much of everything. In my area what people did not have is the money to go get it. That is one type of problem. It’s a new low to find another problem that the items are no longer available for purchase.

              The other point I am reflecting on is how we all complained about The Greatest Generation and their hording. In their minds the Great Depression never ended. And now we are seeing first hand how they became permanently traumatized by all of that. We laughed at the stuff they kept “just in case”. I am sure that many of us will have numerous bottles of rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer for years to come in our homes. Personally, I have added face masks to my list of must haves in my first aid cabinet. I might become my parents yet.

      1. Kiwi*

        They’ve started closing earlier so team members can dedicate more time to cleaning. Unfortunately this doesn’t affect my husband’s workload and the folks he comes into contact with lean towards thinking the virus is a hoax or that Jesus will protect them (yes, that’s actually been said, and reminds me of the anecdote of the woman whonturns down multiple rescue efforts in a flood saying God will protect me, and when she gets to heaven he says “I sent emergrncy services, a boat, and a helicopter, what more did you want?”)

      2. TurtleIScream*

        Shorter hours allows more time for cleaning, but compresses available shopping time, so there are more shoppers at once. It’s a trade off.

  30. AJ*

    Biotech worker here, so we are still open for business. We don’t have any direct coronavirus work yet, but it is probably coming our way soon (we’re develop, make and run diagnostics). We sent about a third of our staff to work from home but lab personnel are still coming in. We’ve spread out our desks and work areas as much as we can and have lots of sanitizer and cleaning supplies available. We’re feeling ok but stress levels are high just because of the amount of change at work and at home. I don’t think many of us are worried about getting infected at work. We are working on obtaining masks for us to wear. Commute went from 35-45 minutes to about 30, so that’s been nice. Our company has tightened our belts, but we’re looking forward to our Rosie the Riveter moment to help on the frontlines of testing.

    1. irene adler*

      The company I work for develops and manufactures testkits. But we don’t run any diagnostics for others.
      Just wanted to reach out and say HI ! to a fellow IVD industry professional.

    2. Violet Newstead*

      I’m in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Everyone who can WFH is doing so, but manufacturing and lab people are on a reduced, rotating schedule. In my group of six, we have to have at least one person on-site everyday. I’m going on-site more so that co-workers who have spouses in medical fields or have child care needs can be home permanently, since I’m single and live alone. We also are on a shifted schedule, so I work 5am to 12:30 pm and the next person comes in 12:30 pm to 7 pm.

      It’s been rough adapting to this. The amount and level of planning we have to do is crazy. Every week it’s a breakdown of precisely who will be where doing what task at specific time intervals. We donated a lot of our surplus PPE inventory to local EMS departments (yay!), but that means that we are limiting trips into the clean rooms. If you’re on clean room duty, you might be in there for hours at a time, so plan your food and liquid intake carefully. It’s a low risk, but I’m terrified of an accident occurring at work, both because there are so few people on-site to help handle it and the thought of going to an ER right now. Everything is slower to progress and we are making more careless mistakes since we’re all so stressed and have too much going on, which then take more time to correct.

      My commute is half what it used to be, though I don’t know what the drive was like at 4:30 am before all of this either.

    3. Bostonian*

      My mom also works for a biotech company that develops, makes, and runs diagnostics. Someone in her lab tested positive for the COVID-19, and I’m so worried for her and my dad, who is high risk for a number of reasons. The company has supposedly deep-cleaned the lab, and everyone in contact with the person is quarantining, and she’s doing all the handwashing/distancing/mask wearing that is possible.

      Sending you well wishes!

  31. TomorrowTheWorld*

    My job relates to providing health care for the homeless and other vulnerable people.
    Transit:
    Cons: Our buses were switched to a Sunday schedule, so they are not running as often nor as early, and then they get cancelled one after another, turning the end-of-day commute into One More Thing. Public transit is not making any accommodation for people who are not fully disabled but still have mobility issues. The buses are not being cleaned at all. If I don’t get corona, then I’ll probably get cholera.
    Pros: Fees are waived on the buses.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      I understand the limits on transit but when coupled with retail workers still having to work… how are they supposed to get to work if they don’t have a car? I rode my bike when I worked at a grocery store but like… minimum wage workers have to work and have no transportation

      1. TomorrowTheWorld*

        It’s not just minimum wage workers. I make well above minimum wage but don’t own a car nor know how to drive.
        Apparently one of the people who would get on at my morning stop works several cities over in a hospital and also doesn’t own a car. The schedule changes and completely unreliable service means he has to be up much earlier to make the connecting BART train and gets home rather later. So this decision is definitely causing frontline workers a huge amount of stress.
        Yesterday we had a bus finally show up and the driver insisted she couldn’t take more than 3 people (?) and then just drove off without opening the doors. Every time this happens, the next bus is going to be that much more crowded, with tired and angry essential workers who have no choice. It’s honestly making everything so much worse than it needs to be.

  32. Getmeouttahere!*

    It’s frustrating. So frustrating.
    I work in payment posting at a medical facility and they’ve made 85% of our group at home. Meanwhile my manager isn’t pushing for my team to go remote, so they won’t. 2/3 of our work is all electronic posting, we have to print reports each day AND THAT’S WHY WE CAN’T. I’ve made tons of suggestions, switching days of who comes in let us work remotely on days not. No is the answer. “because we’ve always done it this way”
    I’m sorry that’s not good enough. I don’t physically need to touch money to post it, we all read off paper EOBs anyways and every. single. Piece. Of. Paper. is scanned in. Nevermind we could all come in once a week and do it.
    They are not advocating for us either.

    1. Mary*

      I can absolutely relate. We are a law firm, 99% of everything my team does can be done from home, especially if we modified some internal procedures. However management decides that only the lawyers are allowed to WFH and the rest of us must come in. I’m in a whirlpool mix of frustration, guilt about going out into the community, guilt that I’m complaining about my job, worry that I might lose mine because they’ve started cutting hours for some staff. As for how I am handling it – the answer is badly. My work motivation is at an all time low, I’m on the edge of tears a lot of the day. Things that help a bit are the good news feeds on social media – not normally my thing but a saving grace right now. And I just have to wait and see what happens.

    2. Flustered*

      I am so sorry to hear you are dealing with this! I am in a similar situation and it is just infuriating! My healthcare facility’s excuse is that “all employees are essential.” Just because someone is essential doesn’t mean that their job can’t be done from home! My mind is seriously boggled that some of our providers are providing telehealth services IN our office. Why don’t they just save these employees the risk of contracting COVID on public transportation, in stairwells, from aerosolized fecal particles in the bathroom, etc. etc and let them work from home? We keep getting all these emails thanking everyone for being heroes. Half of us aren’t saving any lives by coming in the office…we’re risking lives (our own included). I don’t know what it will take my employer to understand that they need to allow telework if they want to keep the company functioning. Are they waiting for one of their employees to get sent to the ICU? It is disturbing that they aren’t taking action.

  33. Desichan*

    I work at a military installation and my husband is active duty so we are both still working and our toddler is still in daycare on base. I’m honestly fine, I think I wouldn’t function well at home. Many people I work with are teleworking and my husband’s job is working with minimal manning necessary to still accomplish the mission. I’m actually thankful because I don’t really want to telework at home with a 3 year old, and I don’t mind getting out of the house.

  34. GarlicMicrowaver*

    I want to thank the OP for requesting this thread. I, too, am in healthcare. I will say that I am in communications, so we did get approval (after a long process) to work from home. But we are tasked in large part with supporting staff who cannot. Our hospital has found the following resource helpful. It touches upon how clinical staff in caregiving roles can navigate difficult conversations with patients and their loved ones.

    https://www.vitaltalk.org/guides/covid-19-communication-skills/

  35. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I’ve cut back to 10 hours in the office and working from home the other time because there are some things I cannot do from home, naturally without massive overhauls and trucking of equipment to my dinky ass home setup.

    The whole production is still on full duty because of our demand and needs. What we’re doing is having cleaning “parties”, everyone is responsible for washing down areas regularly throughout the day. If anything it gives people a break from regular duties and is cathartic to many of us from what I’m hearing.

    Traffic is such a breeze, especially for those who were trucking in two hour commutes some days. Most people are just relieved to still be working and that we’ve always been extra spreadout so social distance is built into our every day practices.

    To everyone who has to deal with the public and that fear, I salute you and love you. My cashiers from my every 2-3 week grocery shopping trips have been in such excellent spirits and I don’t know how you do it. I went to Starbucks when I had to go into the office and everyone was still so upbeat when I know this isn’t easy and there’s still so much to fear. It’s a slice of “normalcy” that I wasn’t expecting, even when they’re wearing masks I can see their smiles in their eyes and you truly are doing something beautiful in a drab ugly and scary time. It’s okay not to smile. It’s okay to not be upbeat. I’m sorry if you’re being forced to put on a face but to those who are just naturally like that and I know there are lots of you, I’m thankful for your abilities right now.

  36. Sara*

    Thanks for this. I’m in healthcare operations. My job can be done completely from home but corporate’s decided we’re all essential. It’s ridiculous that I have to keep my staff (including one with lupus and one with sarcoidosis!) in the hospital when all of their jobs could be done remotely. We all have laptops already! I even offered to buy phones for us to work from home!!!

    My biggest pet peeve right now is I am over listening to people complain about working from home, or complaining about being stir crazy, or complaining about how to deal with their kids at home. Honestly, Alison, I took a break from your blog for a week because I couldn’t deal with it. Many of us have NO CHOICE, people. Stop complaining and appreciate that you’re able to stay home.

  37. Eleanor Rigby*

    I work in a hospital doing inpatient staffing coordination for the med/surg units. Think schedules, payroll, trying to backfill open shifts, random other things. It’s a smaller community hospital so our staffing is rough in good times. It’s been absolute hell for the last month. Nurses and Patient Care Techs have quit. Staff have gotten sick and whether they are positive or not, they still need to come off the schedule for a week or two. A few people have been fired as well for refusing to work. The staff that are healthy are working their shifts, but not picking up extra. Our per diem staff is basically refusing to work. So, I know there’s been a lot of news about people stepping up and volunteering for duty, we are seeing the opposite. People are burnt out and scared. Even if I offer an extra an $20 an hour to work. I spend most of my days texting staff begging for help. Plans are changing on a dime and I don’t know what I will walk into every morning. It sucks. It really sucks. I actually hate my job right now.

    Thankfully my spouse is able to be home with our child during this time. He has been tremendous and is doing schoolwork with our child every day. My days haven’t changed. I still get up and go to work. With a headache most days. When I’m home, I’m feeling stressed out and just exhausted. I am worried about getting sick and I’m just in administration–I’m not doing patient care, but I’m around people all day who are. My co-workers are great, but I’m seeing a lot from upper administration that I do not care for at all, particularly, my manager who was not who hired me.

    The thing is, I have realized that this is not the job for me long term and started looking and applying for jobs in February and into March. I’m actually a finalist for a job which I’m thrilled about, but the hiring process has been put on hold until they figure out when they are actually going to be back in their office. I’m applying elsewhere too. I’m really nervous about the economy now and wonder what the status will be of the jobs I applied for. I really don’t want to quit. Financially, we could hack it for a bit, but I do not want to be in a hole or tough spot where I can’t find a job later. I know resume gaps won’t matter as much right now, but still the conscientious part of me is like no, no, you can’t quit! It’s not responsible!

    I just know I need to leave here as soon as possible after this thing is over. There is no future for me here long term under the present conditions. But I still need to present and do my job and cover my butt every day. And hope it will be over soon. This has been the toughest part of my career that has spanned 20 years.

    Wishing everyone the best and glad this is a thread.

    1. Lana Kane*

      I’m in a hospital as well, a manager in ambulatory care. I’m so sorry your hospital is treating staff this way. Sending non-essential staff home should have been one of the first things they did. I don’t even want to think of that the PPE situation must be for patient-facing staff. Best of luck in your job search!

  38. kittymommy*

    I work in municipal government so almost everyone is essential, definitely everyone in my department and building. I work directly for the elected officials and in tandem with our legal and senior administration departments, and while I’m currently at home (asthma and heart) it’s still pretty business as usual in these offices. While social distancing is tried, in most places it’s just not physically possible – we still have meetings (public and private) and while a lot of the public meetings are done teleconferencing and we encourage all the public to watch online and call in with comments, there are still those who insist on coming in person. And we have to let them.

    1. Left Turn at Albuquerque*

      Municipal clerk here, and in the same boat. Some of my work could be done from home but not all of it – fortunately, our building is large enough and staff small enough that we can keep each other at a distance without much effort. Meanwhile, our legislators are squabbling over how to meet and generally ignoring the input of those on staff who would have to deal with the logistics of conducting virtual meetings when, truthfully, there is no business so urgent we have to have a meeting at all until June at the earliest.

    2. Anon from the Bronx*

      My town in suburban NY has shut down Town Hall & meetings are all by teleconference. Yet business is still being conducted, trash is still being collected, clean water still comes out of the faucets, police are still patrolling our community. Our Town Supervisor provides daily updates on conditions around town. So it CAN be done.

        1. Schnapps*

          I’m in the same sort of role (municipal clerk) in British Columbia. Our legislation is such that we had to have a special order from the Provincial government to have meetings by teleconference or have a place where the public can attend. Public Hearings (meetings specifically for rezonings of land) are currently on hold while we explore ways of getting public input because case law has always held that written submissions are not sufficient. Or we get another order from the Province.

          I also accelerated a Procedure Bylaw change so that if it happens again, we don’t have to wait for an order (but still have to have a place where the public can attend). Before we had to have a physical quorum in a room. At least this way we can keep the people in the room to a minimum.

          Yes, critical infrastructure (water, sewer, electricity) and trash collection are still being done. The people managing this are pulling at least 12 hour days regularly.

  39. LGC*

    I asked this in the open thread, but…most of my team is still in the office. I do want to show my appreciation in a safe way, and regularly! One idea was to buy everyone gift cards for lunch (which I’ll do next week), but are there any other ways?

    (I detailed a bit of their situation in last week’s open, but due to the nature of their work they cannot WFH. I can work from home, and while it’s awkward…I’ve been trying to make it work, and feeling guilty that I have that luxury.)

    1. DML*

      There’s a small business in our city that does gourmet popcorn. They are doing deliveries and shipping. I’ve ordered popcorn to be shipped to each of our remote employees. It’s small but something they can munch on while working remotely. It’s also inexpensive.

    2. kittymommy*

      I’m planning on ordering breakfast sandwiches next week from a restaurant that will deliver. I might include a french toast platter as well. They each serve 10.

    3. periwinkle*

      Speaking of lunch, could you order in food at the office? Not only would it support the folks who have to go in, it helps local restaurants who have had to switch to takeout/delivery in order to keep their crews employed.

      My husband and I are both WFH and we’ve never ordered as much takeout & delivery as we’re doing now.

      1. fposte*

        I also think it reduces the pressure a little on grocery staples so that more people who don’t have the takeout/delivery options can get supplies.

    4. Silence Will Fall*

      My office was able to convert about 85% of the staff to work from home. For those of us who still have to be in the office, management has done away with the dress code, ordered in boxed lunches 2x per week, and purchased hand sanitizer for everyone from a local distillery.

      They’re also offering maximum flexibility. For example, our IT, HR and accounting teams are rotating coverage for the bits that have to be done in house. Some people are working second or third shift hours (we’re normally 8-5) to make their family situations work.

    5. Mel*

      Earlier this week I ordered cookies for the 7 of us who still have to be in office. They were much appreciated!

    6. Animal worker*

      Probably too late for you to see this, but I did a huge order of snacks from Boxed.com for my team, and divvied up part of it now and will be bringing in more in a few weeks or so. I’m talking a kitchen trash can sized bag worth of mixed snacks for each of my teams. Hopefully they’ll enjoy it and it’ll put a little fun into the day.

  40. DML*

    Thanks for this opportunity. I’m going to admit now that I’m going to use it mostly to vent, word vomit. I’m overwhelmed with the responsibility of keeping this business a float, keeping my employees on salary, and keeping them alive and well.

    A wise person once told me “suffering is suffering,” no one’s is greater than another’s.

    We work primarily with the government and gigantic international defense contractors. We are a tiny business – less than 8 employees. Most of my workers are now working from home. Three of us are still coming to the office. I’m heartbroken to have had to send one of the three of us to a customer’s remote location. Airports, rent cars, hotels, eating on the road, are all part of the trips. He’s now on his second one. I HATE that he’s having to do this and I’m having to enforce it. I don’t have the technical knowledge or I’d go myself. Right now, we resent the customer who has deemed the work “mission critical.” This employee is KEY to our business. If he goes down we all go down. (I know, that’s an issue to be addressed another time.) So, I’ve made it clear to the employee that he is to spare no expense to keep himself safe and healthy. When he hesitates, I put the precautions in place myself. He is tremendously stressed. He’s spending 8-12 hrs each day in a manufacturing plant with lots of other workers. They are all at risk.

    Forgive me.

    Being in the office may be just as lonely and isolating as being home. I don’t know.

    Be well. And thank you for this platform.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Something from Carolyn Hax that resonated with me: We can give ourselves permission to not feel grateful right now. Yes, there is someone in worse shape than all of us. And for public bitching sessions it’s wise to remember that. But for our everyday coping, we can just admit that this is terrifying or exhausting or otherwise really really sucks and we are not grateful because, hey, I’m not typing this from a ventilator.

    2. ...not using my normal name for this*

      Right now, we resent the customer who has deemed the work “mission critical.”

      Pulling this out because I’m dealing with the same damn feelings. I’m honestly furious that our customer (a local government agency in a state that’s severely affected – 99% of the services we provide to them aren’t time-critical, I think) has deemed us “essential.” I’m pissed that my boss just went along with it and in fact tried to pressure me to stick to our regular schedule (I pushed back on this). A lot of employees are considered high-risk on my team. We can’t cross-train employees because of social distancing, and managing the workload when most of the employees who opted out were in two critical areas is…difficult. It’s a mess, and I’m not sure what to do.

      1. blackcat*

        Yup, this is the case for my husband, too. Fortunately he’s not going into the office a lot, but there is nothing “essential” about his work. His projects would not be impacted by a few month delay in these steps. It’s BS to force them to work in person right now.

        1. ...not using my normal name for this*

          That’s good that your husband isn’t going in every day, at least.

          And…okay, I can see that our work is valuable to the state, and in fact it is essential that it eventually gets done. (Technically, we have deadlines, but those have flown completely out the window in light of all this.) But the emphasis is on eventually – it can wait for a couple of months if we need it to! It can wait even longer than that! I’m glad that my team still has work to do insofar as it means they don’t have to contend with our utterly inept unemployment system right now (which was not designed to handle one person applying for unemployment, let alone this), but I literally spent two weeks terrified out of my minds for the people working in person – and the only thing that stopped me was that I physically couldn’t stress anymore.

      2. Flustered*

        Does anyone have a legal definition of what exactly essential is? In my research the only official definition I could find was pertaining to federal government employees. My workplaces insists I am essential, but I had nothing on my pre-hire paperwork indicating that I am classified as essential. Interestingly, we all just got a memo stating we were essential when my state went into lockdown. My job could be done from home, so if I could get my hands on an official definition of what essential is, that might give me some ammo (maybe).

        1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

          This should be outlined in your state’s governor’s Executive Order. (For instance, I’m in NY, so it’s easy to find.) It really defines essential *businesses* (types of, by industry), and not specifically job positions or titles. That said, even if your company is deemed ‘essential’, your particular job within the company may not necessarily be essential to the daily operations of the business. Good luck to you!

        2. Cat Meowmy Admin*

          I should add, “essential businesses” in this context, came about as a result of covid19.

          1. Flustered*

            I’ve worked for employers in the past that clearly indicated on the new hire paperwork something to the effect of “I acknowledge this is an essential position.” I wonder if my employer is just assuming everyone’s essential since our business is essential? I’ve poured through all our employee policies and don’t see anything indicating my department is essential. My governor hasn’t defined what an essential employee is, just what an essential business is. I think therein lies the problem – if he could issue an order clarifying this, it would protect the workers who fall through the cracks of working at an essential business, but not needing to be physically present during the pandemic.

  41. Yankee in Dixieland*

    I opened a breakfast food cart on February 28 and am stationed a few blocks from our major hospital and next to the medical school. My husband has a job at the hospital where he is paid a meager $15.50/hour. We cannot subsist on his income alone, so until this week (he was quarantined waiting for ultimately negative covid results), I’ve been going on every day. It’s awful.

    The customer base I was building has immediately been decimated by the stay-at-home order, and as much as I want to be a responsible shelter-in-place person, until stimulus or UI benefits come through, I have no real choice except to keep setting up shop to make that meager $20-30/day and watch the judgment on people’s faces as if I’m staying open for kicks. I need their business and wish I didn’t. We’re paying for essentials on credit because we used our savings to get open, having no idea what was waiting for us just a month after the health inspection.

    I get angry at news stories about people who have the luxury of being bored and of people whose biggest concern is their honeymoon being canceled, even though they have nothing to do with me and I know I’m only upset because I feel helpless and powerless and I’m watching a hard-fought dream crumbling before me.

    So, for this “essential” employee, I’m wallowing in my current pity party because it’s more satisfying than actually dealing with the financial ruin that’s coming like a freight train.

    1. txcalc*

      I’m so sorry – the timing is especially terrible for you.
      You might have considered this already, but could you apply for one of the small business loans the government is offering?

      1. Yankee in Dixieland*

        I applied for the EIDL over a week ago and have heard nothing from the SBA, even though it had been advertised as getting funds in 3 business days; I am not eligible to apply for PPP until tomorrow, but even then, the guidelines for what I need to use those funds for are unclear, as do not pay myself via payroll as a sole member LLC and have only had a business license since 2/13/20.

        I don’t qualify for state or city loans or grants, or even bank loans, because I have not been in business for 2 years.

        I am awaiting unemployment (filed more than 3 weeks ago) for the one-day-a-week service industry job I was laid off from last month. At $1500 a month, after health insurance and tax, we are barely covering our rent and utilities, much less anything else. Until actual money comes through for us in these relief bills, we can’t do much of anything.

        1. txcalc*

          You’re certainly very organized and on top of your options – my fingers are crossed that relief money pans out for you soon.

  42. sofar*

    My husband owns a business that supplies the restaurant industry, so he’s essential. I think the worst part of all this is that there’s so much social-distancing shaming going on right now (Stay the F*ck Home!). But, honestly, the “perfect” quarantine for us isn’t feasible due to his job.

    And when I talk to someone on the phone and they’re like, hey “Put [husband] on, I want to say hi.” And I say, “Well, he’s out delivering stuff right now for his job.” And people gasp and say, “Oh! He’s OUT THERE??? Oh my gosh! Aren’t you worried? I hope YOU aren’t taking unnecessary trips out because you’ve probably been exposed via him!” Not helpful.

    1. Blueberry*

      I am so sorry people aren’t pausing for a second to think before castigating you. I hope they wise up soon and stop doing this, and that you and your husband come through this unscathed.

  43. Grbtw*

    The emotional strain I have to ignore to do my job every day is causing physical reactions, my neck and face go numb and I’ve almost passed out a couple times. I will never choose to work in an essential service again because my body is breaking down.

    What you could do is to put social pressure on anyone who thinks this is fake or overblown. Seriously, yell at them for ignoring the six feet rule and clap for anyone doing this, be vocal because they are making our lives so much worse. They are jerks who choosing to go out and they come up close to those of us who have no choice.

    1. Flustered*

      I have been having a lot of psychosomatic symptoms as well. Prior to this I had a history of passing out from anxiety. In my field, most positions available to people without a Master’s are essential status. I *thought* I had gotten lucky by finding something that was more administrative in nature…it’s an important role, but the ship can float temporarily without it (or without us on site!). Nonetheless, I was notified during the COVID pandemic that my position is suddenly essential. I am trying to get a graduate degree so I can get more “cushy” jobs where I have more autonomy and workplace flexibility. But this pandemic and economic crisis will probably delay me from finishing and keep me locked in this cycle of essential positions.

    2. A Social Worker*

      Yup, I actually have had a rash all over my chest for weeks now because of stress, and my neck and back are killing me. Not to mention the pit in my stomach and panic on the days I have to go into the office. Stress takes such a toll on the body.

  44. Mimi Me*

    My husband is an essential worker right now – one of those weird jobs that goes on unnoticed in the background of life and would be 100% noticed if it was stopped. He says that for him a huge stress point is there are way more people than he’s comfortable with who don’t think that this is serious or a real threat. He visits different locations during the day and spends a lot of time washing his hands, sanitizing surfaces, etc. He says his day will be going really well with all the safety precautions and then he’ll run into a person who will try to shake his hand or violate the 6 foot spacing all because they don’t think this is real. It pisses him off that these people think that because they don’t think it’s real they feel like they can do whatever they want despite how others might feel about things. The sad thing he’s noticing is that a lot of the people who say this isn’t real all tend to be older folks who are at a greater risk.

    1. ReadingTheStoics*

      This is my husband – who is blue collar critical infrastructure (natural gas transport). His coworkers are still sending their children to church-run daycare, and of course these guys have to work together in physical proximity with the machines sometimes. Everyone is overweight, high blood pressure common, and he’s terrified that when COVID comes to his workplace, it will take the station down, and be fatal. The station has changed shifts to reduce the number of guys on site at once, so that’s longer days, but less of them. He has to go to stores for supplies, and is becoming growlier at folks not paying attention/caring. I am trying to help by covering more of his house responsibilities (he usually cooks most), and pointing out the safety nets: our state has plenty of ICU beds, and we’re not as short on ventilators as some. We’re eating lots of veggies, getting sunshine. We’re doing what we can do, and none of us knows truly what will come on any day.

  45. Veterinarian*

    I’m a house call veterinarian still going out and performing end of life care. To me it feels necessary since I don’t want to see animals suffer unnecessarily, but I’m not sure if gloves and a mask are enough especially since I have to reuse my mask every day. I’m just hoping I don’t get sick mostly because then my BF would also become ill while he has been working exclusively from home. It’s a little scary.

    1. Mama Bear*

      Having had to use a vet at home for end of life care for a pet (a few years back), I just wanted to thank you for continuing to do a job that is probably really hard under normal circumstances.

      1. Lyudie*

        Seconding this. We used a service like yours for our cat in February, and while I ultimately couldn’t bear to be there, I was grateful we did not have to traumatize him further by taking him to the vet’s office.

    2. aubrey*

      Thank you so much for continuing to do this work, I am so glad I was able to give my beloved cat a peaceful end when his time came.

    3. Blueberry*

      Is this a face shield type mask? This will sound weird but I know of a company that sells random things including face shields — you could get a couple and switch them out, cleaning each one after the day ends. The company is American Science and Surplus.

      For over-the-nose-and-mouth masks I know that people have started selling homemade cloth ones on Etsy, which come with no guarantees but might be better than nothing? Obviously, if these aren’t useful suggestions just ignore them.

    4. AnonoDoc*

      Thank you!

      We use a home-care vet and I was actually thinking about this the other day, wondering if our frail elderly cat needed it if she could come and leave the meds at the door, back up, and watch me administer them through the door.

    5. BellsaPoppin*

      I’ll be honest – this is one of my greatest fears, more than my parents getting sick far away. All of our vets have closed up shop (and I understand it), but the thought of my elderly cat being in pain and not being able to help her brings me more anxiety than anything else.

      The families you are helping are immeasurably grateful for the service you are providing.

  46. Anima*

    I work wholesale in southwestern Germany and am therefore not included in the shutdown order. I sell art supplies. Don’t get me wrong, art is important, but there is absolutely no reason for my workplace to be open right now. We do have indeed an online shop. I’m frankly a bit aggravated about us having to come to work.
    That said, we had the plague already. One of us caught it right at the beginning of this, and my whole workplace shut down for 14 days. But since we could not all get tested, we can still spread it while being asymptomatic – and selling unnecessary for survival items. It’s all very, very stupid.
    I can walk to work, which is nice. I have not been anywhere else than there, at two supermarkets and the bakery in the last 10 days. All by foot. But I’m still worried for my elderly customers and colleagues with vulnerable family. Currently it’s just a matter of time until the nex of us will be tested positive.
    (By the way, why do we even haaave customers?? If they would not come for shopping, we could just close! Stay home, people!)

  47. RadManCF*

    Law student/food delivery driver here. In MN, food delivery has been declared essential, and it’s become very lucrative. I’m able to make about $100 in four hours, and people seem very happy to see me. I also just accepted a job with MN DOC (long story there), and I start at MCF-Stillwater on the 29th. I’ve been told that I’ll be well supplied with masks, but for obvious reasons, social distancing will be impossible. As I write this, I’m killing time before my uniform fitting. Wonder how that will work…

    1. L Dub*

      Hey fellow Minnesotan! I’m also doing food delivery as well, and my day job is also essential.

    2. RadManCF*

      So the uniform fitting didn’t go too badly. I was basically put in a fitting room with an assortment of shirts, and told to find the right fit by trial and error. Here’s hoping I get shirts with a size 18 collar…

  48. King Friday XIII*

    Anybody else at the local bank/credit union checking in? We’re still here because sometimes people still need physical money, but we’re trying to do as much as we can over the phone.

    On the up side, I’ve never seen so many people suddenly interested in figuring out how to do their banking online!

    1. New Job So Much Better*

      Hubs works for a bank (mortgage company side) and their branches are all locked; customers must make an appointment if they need to come in.

      1. King Friday XIII*

        Yeah, that seems to be pretty common! It’s a good option for reducing unnecessary traffic.

    2. [insert witty user name here]*

      My husband works at a local bank branch – one that is pretty slow on a normal day, and thankfully, even slower now. They have gone down to drive-through only (with limited exceptions, like accessing a safe deposit box) however….. he has to be on the line with the two tellers so the three of them are sitting two feet apart. So much for social distancing. We wouldn’t be quite as concerned, but one of them is an absolute moron and we don’t trust that she’s not doing everything in her power outside of work to not get infected. And she touches her face and nose all day and doesn’t wash her hands/use sanitizer as often as the rest of them think she should. I told my husband that he, the other teller, and the other FSA (who sits at a desk nearby but not on the teller line) should be telling her to wash her hands more often, not touch her face, etc throughout the day. He’s so stressed and annoyed with her otherwise, he knows he would lose her cool, so he doesn’t want to go down that route.

      Is your branch having you wear masks around each other, since that’s now the CDC guidance? Or even allowing it?

      1. King Friday XIII*

        We’re being asked to mask up when we’re away from individual desks (so I can take it off when I’m on the phone) and one of my managers has an amazing gift for making hand sanitizer and clorox wipes appear from nowhere. We’ve also moved a lot of our front-line staff to taking phone calls, which means they’re off the teller line and easier to separate and sometimes working from home, and it means the folks on the line can have distance between them!

    3. Zephyr*

      I am a lending assistant at my branch and I’m exhausted! We’re overwhelmed with PPP loan processing and existing loan deferment requests. I can’t work from home on any of it, so I’m still coming in every day. It’s hard not to get frustrated/jealous of friends and family who are able work from home.
      Thankfully, we’re a really really small branch with a total of 5 employees. Our lobby is closed, and by appointment only. We’re disinfecting often and all of our desks/office spaces are really spread out!

      1. King Friday XIII*

        We don’t do SBA loans and I am simultaneously glad we don’t and wish we could help more members directly by doing them. I’m glad you’re in a small branch and able to stay spread out!

    4. KittyKai*

      I wish I could say the same about our members. While we are seeing an increase in online banking and direct deposit requests, we are still seeing a massive amount of traffic through our drive-through. Anyone else having a massive increase in large cash withdrawals?

      1. King Friday XIII*

        Geez I’ve heard so many places are having large cash withdrawals, while at the same time lots of businesses are only allowing cards. I don’t know where people are putting it all!

  49. Abogado Avocado*

    I am an attorney who exempt and tasked with maintaining continuity of government operations for our office while our boss is in an emergency operations center dealing with the ongoing pandemic. I have worked the last three weeks straight — and there is no down time. I’m constantly on my phone and laptop, even in those few hours I spend at home, and it is hard. I would love to be able to sleep in, to dress in my jammies, but instead I’m up before dawn, dressing professionally, and commuting into a government office building to hold down the fort, along with the security staff. So, I tell myself that,when things have calmed down, I’m going to take some sort of vacation. Because I’m going to need it!

  50. Sapphire*

    I’m in financial services. Despite absolutely being able to do my job from home, because I’m a temp, we aren’t allowed to, so I’m still going into the office every day. My coworkers are clueless and I constantly have to move away from them to maintain social distancing. A manager even gave me dirty looks when I asked her to move so I could get by. I don’t feel like I have any power to keep myself safe, I can’t afford to not work, and I don’t feel empowered to demand hazard pay or anything else that would make this worth it.

  51. Office Admin Liz*

    I’m doing an office & WFH mix. Some of the fears that others have aren’t as present for me, since no one else is coming into my office. So I’m not worried about getting sick or getting others sick outside of the stops I have to make at the gas station and the post office.

    BUT . . . because we want everyone else to continue to work remotely, it means that there are a lot of other tasks I’m taking on for them that still have to be done in the office. Frankly, it’s exhausting and I’m feeling incredibly burnt out. Having others take some of that on isn’t really an option, either, since I work in the non-profit sector and this is just a nightmarishly busy time of year for us. Even our WFH folks are feeling burnt out and overworked.

    When I’m at the office, I have my dog with me since it’s a pet friendly place, I usually play some music I normally wouldn’t, and I try to remind myself to breathe. But it’s hard. And because a lot of friends and family don’t fully understand the work that I do, they’re mad that I still need to go into the office at all when there’s no avoiding it. I’m having both my boss’s decisions and mine second-guessed by people who don’t have a clue, and that’s probably worse than the extra work. My husband is very understanding, at least . . . but oof.

  52. MedLibrarian*

    I work in a nonclinical position in a hospital, and I’m in a state that does not have shelter in place orders. As stressful as physically being at the hospital suddenly is, the harder part for me is that my teenage daughter is doing online learning with higher expectations than in-person high school, which doesn’t seem to be the norm for most school districts, and I’m only there in the evenings and on weekends to help her when most of her classmates have one or both parents there all of the time. I’m also the only support (getting groceries, bringing her books to read, etc.) for my 86-year-old mom, who lives alone. I feel like I’m on sandwich generation/working mom meltdown most of the time, but I have to keep going, regardless.

    Thank you, Alison. Just typing this makes me feel a little better.

    1. Silver Radicand*

      Know that you are appreciated, by us, and most likely by those you are serving! Also, maybe teenage daughter could help make sandwiches/cook/take some of that home burden from you?
      Regardless, thank you for helping take care of those in your sphere! We need more people like you.

  53. EnfysNest*

    I work for a medical facility, but on the engineering side, so I’m still coming in to the office, but my day-to-day hasn’t really changed much. They’re still having us come in because they are planning that my section might have to fill in for others if/when we get too low on staff because they’re all sick, but we’re not at that point yet, so we’re supposed to just keep plugging along with our normal projects. It’s really disconcerting to be working on approving bathroom finishes for a future renovation while I can hear my boss in the next office over working on finding ways to expand our isolation areas and our morgue.

    I was already wanting to start job searching because I felt a little useless and unfocused in my position anyway and didn’t feel like I was accomplishing as much as I’d like to, and now I feel more pointless than ever, but I feel like there’s nowhere to go now (and I don’t want to look like I’m running away when I might eventually be one of the last ones available to help out when if it comes to that).

    I’m one of only two in my section who isn’t in some sort of risk category. One person did get special permission to work from home and another is considering it, but our boss, who is high risk in multiple ways, has decided he’s staying to do as much as he can until he does get sick. Which is noble of him, and I understand his choices, but another coworker keeps bringing that up. Every other day he’s going to our boss and saying things like “Why are you still here?! If you catch this, you might DIE!!!” and basically freaking out and it freaks me out. And that same coworker keeps having to have different facets of the virus and our response to it explained, so he keeps going back and forth between “Okay, but why is this aspect really a big deal?” and “Oh my gosh, why is anyone still here? The sky is falling right now and it’s the literal end of the world!” (And, yes, that includes him bringing up that he has read about this being a sign of the actual apocalypse. *sigh*) Admittedly, I had a lot of problems with this coworker before all this started, too, so it’s not a surprise that he’s being like this, it’s just super stressing me out. My earbuds are my best friends at work when I need to drown him out.

    My facility finally this week started allowing us to wear masks from home if we want to (they are also now providing one paper mask per week for anyone who chooses to go get one.) I have been making fabric masks at home, and I’ve gotten enough done to provide to my whole section and a couple that I mailed off to family members who need them. I should be able to get a lot more done this weekend to donate, so I at least have that one thing that makes me feel like I’m contributing in some way, but I know that a couple dozen minimally effective masks aren’t really going to make any notable difference in the grand scheme of things. Thankfully for the time being, almost all of my work can be done from my office without having to go near anyone other than those in my immediate section, so my exposure risk is as low as it can be for now, but, yeah, it’s super weird.

    1. Blueberry*

      Hey, every bit helps. Every infection the masks you made prevents might prevent more infections down the line. I am cheering for you for makin them!

    2. Flustered*

      My facility is similar. Part of its argument for having people in office roles come in is that “everyone’s essential” and that office people might need to fill in for people on the frontlines. I think it’s foolish to expose the administrative employees to the virus (via stairwells, hard surfaces, dining facilities, large meetings etc etc). If we really are needed later on to fill in, it’s in their best interests to keep us safe and healthy for the time being. Have office people do a couple days of training for frontline roles, and let them stay home if there’s no current staff shortage. They are going to have a much worse staff shortage on hands due to not limiting the number of staff in the building!

  54. Sunshine Brite*

    Unable to work from home based on my job… but many of the decision-makers are. The Shrek quote seems to be the general mantra around here: “Some of you may die, but that is a sacrifice I’m willing to make.”

    It’s taken a laughably long time to get measures in place with questions still remaining. The higher ups didn’t want to shut things down “simply for health reasons” and we’re still running the majority of our programming. It’s scary – if they would’ve locked down too soon there could’ve been riots and it still seems like there could be due to lack of lockdown.

  55. Funeral service worker*

    I work in funeral service so I’m still going in to work every day. It’s honestly really weird – right now my workload has actually dropped a lot because we can’t hold services and I don’t feel outwardly stressed but I haven’t had a decent night of sleep since this whole thing started. They’re really making an effort to limit exposure and we’ve drastically cut down the number of people coming into the building, cleaning any surfaces they touch, etc, and I’m lucky enough to have my own office, but it still feels like a waiting game until I (or one of the other 3 people I live with who also work outside the house) get sick anyway.

  56. Mama Bear*

    Lack of traffic means there’s no rush hour and even accidents are having little impact. I’m saving money because gas prices are lower (mostly) and I can take the “long way” which is no longer the long way and avoid tolls. One of my problems is that I’m not able to best support my child’s online learning from here and that’s a daily frustration. I am fortunate to have an office to myself and have been keeping my trash next to the door so when the crew picks it up we can both maintain appropriate distance. So far I’m OK with the company’s response to this and am hopeful that we can come out jobs intact. I’m supporting extra family members who have been laid off and am grateful I’m in the position to do so. I am bringing food for lunch and not going out to many places even to get carry out. Trying to minimize all unnecessary contact. I keep wipes and gloves in my car. Part of my routine each night is to wipe down all the surfaces I touched after leaving work, including phone and keys.

    I’m not home, I’m not bored, I don’t have oodles of free time. I’m actually struggling to get out the door because I would rather be home. I would just like people to understand that working outside the home right now is not always a preference or first choice and can be hard on the employee. Be kind.

  57. Not Frequent Poster*

    I am in the law enforcement sector, but in the office. My section is split in teams every other week in the office, but we are working towards three teams so starting on Monday I will be at home for two weeks then work a week. I can only do very limited work from home, so I work for about two hours and then I am on Admin Leave for the other 6. I will get paid and will not loose my job so I know I am so lucky and privileged in this environment. The best part is my commute. Usually it is 55 minutes to an hour and 10 minutes each way. Right now it is about 45 minutes each way. It is so nice. Right now it is just me at my condo. Need to find some new book series to read.

  58. Pescadero*

    I’m technical staff (Electronic Engineer) at a large university research department.

    We’re rotating people through so we have at least one person in the building every day (for facilities reasons), and working from home the rest of the time.

    It is very , very strange being in a huge empty building with almost no one else. I get no technical work done on the day I’m in, just spend lots of time wandering the building keeping an eye out for building issues.

  59. EDK*

    I work in the headquarters of an essential industry and am still coming into the office every day. There are quite a few folks who are now working from home, but many in my department are not. I have conflicting feelings about it. I’m so grateful that I still have a job, while at the same time when I look out the window and see people walking/jogging/biking in the middle of the day, I can sense myself getting resentful. There is such a weird disconnect because, like the question stated, all the articles and advice seem to be geared towards the people who are working from home. I am definitely not bored and have been working 5-10 more hours per week since this started due to the fact that we have also furloughed several people. I think everyone’s situation is challenging in different ways, but I kind of feel forgotten and alone right now. By the end of the week, I am emotionally drained and then have to go through the ordeal of going to the grocery store and getting gas on top of it all. But, as I said, I’m truly grateful to still have a job and am trying to remind myself that this whole thing is hard for everybody.

  60. Court Worker*

    Here is what I want people to know: I’m not evil for leaving my home every day. I work at the court, so I’m dressed professionally and not in attire that would suggest that I am a healthcare worker. Court is an essential function, however; we have postponed all but the most critical cases. I am tired of getting evil looks as I drive by or get in my car, and I’m tired of the Facebook posts suggesting that I am killing people by going to work. The constitution and public safety matter, even during a pandemic. I am being careful, and we are taking precautions.

    1. fposte*

      I think a lot of people want concrete targets for their anger and anxiety, so it’s coming out in situations like this. (I think the post here yesterday about the Claude the co-worker was another example.) I’ve been stunned to see the reports of people assaulting health care workers, but I also think it’s illustrative at how illogical (you’re angry because you think they’re contagious so you want to get closer to them?) and primal these reactions really are.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      Eh.. don’t give the curtain twitchers any of your head space. You know if you are doing the responsible thing ignore the looks and totally ignore the facebook warriors.

      Related rant directed at those people making you feel bad: You… social distance warrior… you yes, I’m talking to you. You aren’t helping anything! You are the equivalent of someone who yells at or keys the car of somebody who parks in a handicap parking spot and doesn’t ‘look disabled’. You are only going to make the people who aren’t listening or paying attention dig in their heels just to be contrary or target people like Court Worker who are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Stop it!

    3. Sleepless*

      I had to stop at the pharmacy yesterday and I was still in my scrubs. I was hoping nobody was going to give me the side eye. I wanted to have a sign that said, “Vet! Not human doctor! No human germs here!” (the truth is that human germs are one of the main reasons I never wanted to treat humans.)

  61. Jess*

    People who give underpaid, uninsured essential workers a hard time about taking measures to protect their health are selfish ignoramuses. My husband works two jobs outside the home and every day he comes home with stories about customers giving him shit for wearing a mask or maintaining distance. It really makes you wonder what planet some people are on.

    1. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      It is so selfish of anyone to not wear a mask in public, even if it a tshirt on your face, it’s the polite thing to do to help everyone. Who do these customers think will wait on them if grocery workers get sick? Many stores near me don’t permit customers without some kind of face covering anymore, and I completely support it. Your husband’s managers are assholes for not making a simple sign for the door/entrance. If people need something, they’ll put on a bandana and deal with it.

  62. QCI*

    There’s only a handful of cases in my area, so half the population treats it like a shut down and lots of businesses are closed or reduced hours, but there’s still plenty of people going about their day like usual. Barely noticeable reduction in traffic. Hasn’t stopped people from clearing out the toilet paper isle.

  63. Laura H.*

    I just want to say thank you to you all.

    Is restaurant food delivery/ pick up necessarily essential? It’s a toss up, but I’m on the side of it’s a nice comfort to have, and it’s one way I can help my household have a little something of normalcy. (And help local joints- even if it’s 50/50 between them and a chain pizza joint)

    So thank y’all for what you do to provide others with a small sense of normalcy, I can’t state how much I appreciate that.

    1. Silver Radicand*

      So the best argument I’ve heard for restaurant pick-up/drive-thru’s being open is that it helps reduce the burden on grocery stores which are already a major danger area.

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        That’s the same argument I’ve heard — plus it’s also good support for people who are working extremely long hours either as healthcare or other frontline, or juggling WFH & dependent care (and therefore don’t have time/energy to cook for themselves), or have disabilities that make cooking on a regular basis difficult or costly.

    2. Elenna*

      Honestly, I’d argue it is essential, for a) people whose jobs have suddenly exploded and they just don’t have time to cook and b) people who literally had no idea how to cook before. Yes, set b could maybe learn now, but a lot of people are too stressed to add “learn new things” to their to-do list, and also learning to cook inevitable involves some mess-ups and wasted food, which is not great if you’re trying to go to the grocery store as little as possible.

    3. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

      There’s some disability-access and economic-access reasons to have restaurant take out open as well. Not only are some people facing major time crunch, others are simply incapable of cooking (disability or no kitchen or any of a number of other reasons) and they need to eat too

    4. QCI*

      Ordering takeout helps the restaurant and the driver. To those people, it’s their job, their source of income, not just someones convenience.

      1. Beth*

        We’re ordering meals for delivery a LOT, because my wife and I are both still going to work! We’ve always been generous tippers, but since this started we’ve been tipping truly massively. We get a LOT of quite passionate thank-you’s just for tipping at all.

        1. Robin Ellacott*

          Same! I am trying to keep my local restaurants afloat and staff working by ordering food in at least weekly, and I have been tipping much more. I’m a little sad at how surprising people find this.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I don’t have a car. My usual strategy for groceries is to go with friends that do. I have to do food delivery, or travel more times by public transport to bring home what I need, and because I’m working from home at least FT, I don’t have that time to give.

      Instacart is scheduling days in advance, if you even get a time slot. I’m trying to buy 2 weeks worth at a time to minimize trips. Take out helps my local businesses AND helps me wait out my groceries. I’m finding other local options too … a local restaurant supplier has been able to shift to home deliveries for some items, so that’s what I’m doing for this week.

    6. Lahey*

      I’ve been staying away from third-party delivery, especially Instacart. And my first go-to for carryout is a small restaurant where the couple who owns it are the ones on-site, rather than bigger places who have more people coming in and aren’t as likely to end up out-of-business.

      I think you have to consider it one a case-by-case basis, and try to find out how different restaurants and delivery services are handling things. If nothing else, don’t cross any picket lines.

  64. Tanja Pacific NW*

    I work the front desk in a very small physical therapy office. We are considered essential medical so are still allowed to operate. The staff all wear masks and I wish all the patients would wear masks or cover their faces, but many of them won’t. Some people who come in are still not taking this seriously. It really stresses me out.
    My boss said we can stay home if we want to (without pay). I thought long and hard about it, and decided to keep working because, ultimately, we are easing pressure on other medical personnel and keeping some patients out of the emergency room.
    I started wearing a mask before anyone else in the office. My boss was a bit slow in responding to the crisis (he kept saying “it’s just the flu”). He has an immunocompromised family member at home. Finally, he got on board and now the whole office is taking proper precautions.
    I don’t like being exposed to people all day, especially when some of them are careless. But for now, I am working.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      I cancelled my PT appointments once stuff started hitting the fan. I said “i kind of work with the public” and they said “we do too!”

      But i’m a 31 year old with a nagging hip injury that I can work through – your elderly and recent surgery patients don’t need more exposure!

    2. Oxford Comma*

      My PT office closed. I am in pain, but I am actually so relieved that they don’t have to come in and be exposed.

    3. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Can’t you require your patients to wear masks? Local ophthalmologist is doing that now with patients (only seeing urgent cases and emergencies) and projects doing so for quite a while even after they are able to do more routine care.

        1. Show Me the Money*

          What is his reason? Keep pushing on this, show him CDC guidance, OSHA guidance, etc. He is just an ass.

    4. Show Me the Money*

      Sure, the entire county closes down for the flu. Just ignorant and stupid.
      Clients without a some type of facial covering and gloves would be refused service, unless you have hand washing functionality in your office that clients can use and they thoroughly clean their hands before being seen. It’s one thing to choose to expose yourself to danger, and it’s another thing to expose others. So selfish.

  65. Mystykyn*

    UK local government. Some of the services we have to provide, by law, can only be provided from the office building. All of us doing that work are doing so from choice and many have mental health problems or difficult domestic situations that mean they are at more risk at home. We have swapped jobs and people round so some of those at work are not doing their usual job. We pick up the casualties of the lockdown, though – homelessness, family breakdown, public health, street services etc and we do it with very little money as we have to balance our books. The NHS – the monolithic UK socialised healthcare provider – is not under this obligation.

  66. crchtqn*

    Essential, construction, sales staff. Still going to the office, about 70% of our floor is working from home and our desk have walls plus more than six feet between everyone. It’s weird. I never realized how much I need to interact with people to keep a little sane. It definitely has convinced me I could not work from home with my current 1 bedroom apartment with my husband and cats. I only interact with about 4 people every day at work.

    Husband is also essential and works for a prison. He has preexisting conditions and I worry every day he will get it and be hospitalized.

    1. Spcepickle*

      I run one of those construction office you are selling too. Thank you for staying open. I am in my office every other day pushing all the paperwork through trying to keep our contractors on schedule, sending up all the hopeful vibes that we will get a construction season this year.

  67. Beth*

    I work in the investment industry. I’m not sure how essential I am, and I fret and feel guilty about that, although I don’t think my coming to work every day is putting anyone in danger — I’m doing my damnedest to keep it that way.

    Half our people, the most vulnerable staff, are working from home. We’re a small firm, everyone has their own office, and keeping separate while in the office is doable. The first couple of weeks, I resented coming in; now I’m mostly grateful. It keeps my days structured enough that I can still get some work done, although I’m stressed and distracted by the crisis. My focus is shot. I stress over this, because I’ve always had really high standards for myself and my work.

    I work an ordinary 40-hour week, and I’m not on the front lines. I’m not making life-and-death decisions. My commute is fast and smooth (used to take an hour, now takes 40 minutes), because the roads are half empty. I try to take time to appreciate this.

    I am so exhausted by the time I get home that my brain is mush. I’ve been trying to make masks at home (I’m an expert sewer), but most evenings, I don’t have the energy even for simple things. Just the underlying stress of keeping myself on guard during a more or less ordinary day seems to suck me dry. My wife is in the same situation, and comes home feeling the same exhaustion.

    I’m crazy grateful that we still have our full-time incomes, that we’re both still healthy so far, that we have a house that can’t be taken away easily, that we don’t have kids. We order out for dinner a lot and tip the delivery people like drunken sailors on a spree.

    1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      Hey, also investments. I understand why I’m essential — a lot of people are making investment account withdrawals to tide them over, or making changes to their investment accounts that mean that we need to have people ready and able to handle that — but it definitely doesn’t feel as vital as healthcare, grocery, sanitation, etc, and I think there’s a psychological cost to that sense of uncertainty too.

      1. Beth*

        *financial services remote fist bump*

        Yes, that’s it exactly. I know I’m making a difference (right now, we spend a lot of time trying to keep frightened people from making terrible decisions that will hurt them in the long term). But I’m four or five levels back from the front lines, and it feels self-indulgent to admit that yikes, this is hard, it’s stressful, it’s draining.

        I could do a lot of my job from home — but not as well. Over the long haul, I’m way more effective at my desk. By coming in, I’m making it workable for the more vulnerable people in my firm to go on working from home as effectively as possible. Our current setup is the best compromise we can make at this time. But man, I’m so tired.

        1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

          Oh my god, the bad decisions folks. I’ve been talking down so many panicky clients. And like, I understand! It’s scary! I took a look at my 401k the other day and wanted to punch the wall! I can only imagine how much worse that would feel at 60 than it does at 30. But the constant outlay of reassurance and empathy is so draining.

          1. Beth*

            As it happens, I’m a few months short of 60, and my 301(k), I mean 401(k), is down about 12%. But last week it was down 25%. I had to take my own advice and remember that, as long as I don’t capitulate and lock in my losses, it will grow back. I won’t need it for a good 5-8 years. I survived 2001 and 2008, and I will survive 2020.

    2. Elenna*

      I work in insurance, and yeah, one of my biggest frustrations in this whole thing is that my job doesn’t really feel essential (I get why insurance in general is essential, but like Count said, it definitely doesn’t feel as useful as stuff like healthcare, grocery store workers, etc) and yet it takes up enough of my time that it’s hard to find any volunteer work that feels more helpful. Especially because it also feels important to keep some leisure time to myself so it doesn’t turn into “all I do is work and sew masks” because burnout. At least I can work from home, though.

      1. Elenna*

        And yes, I realize that out of all the things that could be frustrating/upsetting to me in this situation, this is a pretty darn minor one. Overall I’ve been super lucky. But it’s still frustrating.

      2. Toothless*

        Insurance workers like you have been really helpful to me lately! I had a bad bike accident at the end of January (rear-ended by a car) before all the virus stuff became a big deal where I live, and I’ve had to spend a lot of time on the phone with insurance agents to get my hospital bills sent to the right people in the right places. Without you all, I would have had to deal with collections later or somehow figure out how to pay some pretty big ER and radiology bills on my own and get reimbursed later.

  68. Vique*

    I work in the hospitality industry in North Eastern Europe. I know that we are very lucky because currently there are not that many covid cases/deaths. I cover the job of three more people in addition to my own (reservations). The amount of people who have shouted at me in the last month because their stay got cancelled is just staggering, and it is taking a toll on my mental health. The constant worry leads me to being exhausted all the time.
    I am obsessive about hand washing and disinfecting every surface to the point of my hands being sore and puffy.
    I live close to work, usually under 10 minutes by bus, but haven’t been able to take it in the last month because of inconsiderate pensioners who are ignoring the quarantine/stay at home order and are just going somewhere all the time. I mentally couldn’t take the potential exposure to other people and now walk an hour each way.

  69. doreen*

    I work for an essential public agency. I’m angry at the people who continued to come to work after having symptoms/being tested, causing a number of other co-workers to also be quarantined and I’m angry at the people who have no symptoms and are still not coming to work* as both of these groups have caused the few of us who are working to be overburdened. I’m worried about being exposed and bringing it home to my husband – and just to make things better, he is an extrovert who is so starved for social interaction that I can’t even really relax when I am home. I have never been so stressed for so long in my life.

    * and I know this because when they call in they are telling me they aren’t sick and don’t have any symptoms. They don’t even have the decency to lie and say they’re sick.

  70. Glass half empty*

    Research lab employee here. We are classified as essential so I’ve been going in to work since this started. Our admin staff is working from home but lab work can’t be don’t from home. My husband normally works from home anyway so that part hasn’t changed but our 8 YO daughter is home and he’s handling most of the schooling. The rest of my extended family are either retired or able to work from home. A cousin sent a text “well since we’re all hunkered down let’s have a zoom call.” This really felt tone deaf to me. I’m not hunkered down. I’m still going to work everyday. I’m worried I’m going to bring bass one thing home to my family because so many people are still out and about when they have no need to be. If you can stay home, then stay home. Please. Don’t increase the risk to those of us who HAVE to be out.

    I also think state and local governments need to re-evaluate what is considered an essential business. In all reality restaurants are not essential, send those folks home. I’ve seen landscapers out working. Is that really necessary? And honestly gloves don’t work unless you use them correctly. You have to change them.

    Although gas is super cheap right now! Silver lining!

    1. Retail not Retail*

      I’ve seen 2 houses in my neighborhood hire tree companies to take down their huge ones.

      City park people need to cut the grass and keep the weeds under control.

      I don’t know what roles private companies play. There is also a belief that since we’re outside, we’re safer. (I work for a non profit park that has a grounds crew. It’s spring, stuff is growing!)

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, in my town landscapers are generally a dude and his truck. I don’t know whether I’d call them essential, but I also think they’re pretty low risk.

        1. Show Me the Money*

          Yeah, me too. I would hate to see my lawn or neighborhood in a month without my lawn care guy. I’m old with a huge yard and can’t do it myself. We have zero contact, communicating by phone and text, and I pay electronically. We need some semblance of normality, no need for things to look post-apocalyptic, not yet. Plus, it’s fewer people without income.

      2. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

        The company I work for would/could rent the lift that the tree companies use to trim those huge trees. And the chainsaws. And the climbing ropes.

      3. Lurking Gardener*

        “City park people need to cut the grass and keep the weeds under control.”

        This. I am one of those city park people (an assistant gardener) and the city says we’re essential. Our parks are still open (playgrounds and dog runs and athletic courts are closed, but people can still walk, jog, exercise, walk their dogs, all that). We’re supposed to keep social distancing with each other as much as we can and wear masks when we can’t, and social distance from all the park patrons as much as they’ll let us. Which they tend to be good about doing.

        Still, it’s impossible to keep that six foot distance 100% of the time, especially later in the day when there are more people in the park. It didn’t bother me so much at first, but the more this goes on, the more I worry. I’m also now getting sketched out whenever I have to use the restroom. The only restrooms available to us are the public ones that everyone in the park uses. They’re getting cleaned and sanitized several times a day now, but still….

        I’m glad to still have work, get to be outside, and talk to my coworkers (you can do that from six feet apart!). And keep my income, too. I feel very lucky. I’m also, always now, wondering how soon I’ll get infected, or if I am already.

        I think we really are safer outside than we would be in an indoor workspace, but it’s not 100%.

    2. Sleepless*

      I’m a veterinarian and I’m still going to work. What pretty much every animal hospital is doing is “curbside” service. We have the doors locked and a sign that says “Stay in your vehicle and call this number.” They call us, the receptionist checks them in, the nurse gets the history, and they go out in PPE and get the pet with as little contact with the owner as possible. We do our exam, I call the owner and discuss what we’re doing, more phone stuff is done as they get checked out, and the nurse takes the pet back to them. We’re wiping everything down and washing the hell out of our hands.

      The good: my mental health is so much better being at work. Heck, I’m just savoring spending time in the car. It’s good to see my coworkers. I’m incredibly thankful to be making an income. The pets are honestly a bit better behaved away from their owners.

      The bad: obviously we’re all worried about exposure. We’re having to adjust to a few things: the endless phone stuff is making the receptionists busier, for instance. I’ve found that the conversations I need to have with pet owners are much, much harder on the phone. The absolute worst of all has been how to handle euthanasias. We’re trying not to let clients into the building even for that. I did one on the front porch of our building, with less distancing and less PPE than I would have preferred.

    3. Elenna*

      Going out to eat is not essential for sure, but take-out probably is, because some people just don’t have the time or ability to cook. I guess they could theoretically survive on frozen food, instant noodles, etc, but take-out lets them have more variety which is useful for both mental and physical health, especially if this goes on for multiple months like it seems like it’s going to.
      (Ability to cook includes both people who physically can’t because of disabilities, and people who just have no idea how. The latter could maybe learn, but right now is probably not a great time to be wasting food on botched attempts at cooking.)

      Also, someone mentioned above that having take-out as an option lowers the number of people in grocery stores.

      1. anon24*

        Agreed. I know take-out isn’t essential and I feel bad for all the restaurant workers who have to go to work instead of staying home, but I don’t have time to cook every night (EMS, 12+ hour shifts) and being able to get take-out one or two nights a week is keeping me actually eating real food, which is helping me keep my immune system strong. I need that right now more than ever.

    4. Sleepless*

      I’m glad landscapers are still working. They can keep their distance pretty well, and when all this is over we’re going to have enough problems without dealing with a bunch of overgrown trees and lawns that have turned into hay fields.

      1. Filosofickle*

        It is controversial in my neighborhood — some believe it’s ok since landscapers can physically distance, others insist it’s only okay if the work being done is “essential” and not cosmetic. (Ex ok to hire to take care of a damaged/downed tree but not for a regular tree trimming.) My neighbors have someone working today to wrangle their yard full of foxtails. Some might consider that cosmetic but dang if you let those go they create a real hazard!

    5. TurtleIScream*

      In our area, landscapers are NOT essential and are force-closed. My husband and have severe outdoor allergies, and cannot tackle our yard ourselves. So, we stay inside, where I have severe indoor allergies. Landscapers are such low-risk, they are petitioning to be added as essential, and will likely be added back next week. I can’t wait.

  71. Essential Couple*

    My husband and I both work in essential industries and our work cannot be performed from home (not healthcare). Our day-to-day routines have not changed much. I know that everyone is struggling in their own ways, but sometimes I have to disconnect from social media because it can be hard to see people complaining about being home or engaging in fun “quarantine games” (I realize this is a me problem, but it doesn’t make me any less resentful if I’m having a rough day). It’s also hard to express some of these feelings at times because I know a lot of people who have been laid off/furloughed, and I know I should be grateful to still be working. But still, there are definitely days “essential” seems more like “sacrificial”- my industry specifically is one that always receives an *asterisk* after new executive orders saying we are “exempt” from them, which is frustrating.

  72. anon today*

    I’m in media and I’m not well. Two friends are in the hospital fighting and another has died. My job is 100% COVID-19 100% of the time. I have an appointment (via phone) with my psychiatrist today. I’m not in any danger of a breakdown or hurting myself or anything, just overwhelmed, in despair and next level exhausted. Thanks for letting me vent.

    1. Mama Bear*

      Vent away. You are understandably struggling and I hope that the appointment helps. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      I am so sorry you are going through this. I appreciate your efforts to keep us informed‒a functional democracy depends on a strong free press. Sending you some good thoughts.

    3. Working with me is PUNishment*

      Sending lots of positive thoughts your way. I work for an association that represents long-term care facilities so I am not an essential worker but basically I work for people who are obviously on the frontlines of this. It is incredibly draining to have your entire job be COVID-19-focused and having to talk to yet another person about infection and death rates and then try to unwind and call a friend and all they talk about is COVID-19 and then watch the news and all anyone is talking about is COVID-19. Draining is honestly the only word I can use to describe it.
      I am not sure if you have any activity that helps to “turn your brain off,” like for me it is crocheting. I am also doing a self care Friday and taking long bubble baths and doing face masks and the like.
      Good for you for seeking help when you knew you needed it. It takes a brave person to admit that.

    4. Lentils*

      My deepest sympathies and I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope being able to talk to your psychiatrist helps, even a little. I hope you’re able to be kind to yourself and that you have some way to help yourself unwind a little after work, even if it’s just taking a bath or watching cute/funny videos.

  73. LadyCop*

    The hardest part about not being home is that you have the worst parts of your routine unchanged, but are missing all the things and people that would brighten the day. That and how many people seem to take fot granted being able to work from home…or nap or enjoying the oddly pleasant April weather.

    I definitely prefer this to being home all day, but even if I were I’d still wash my hair and do my makeup instead of making it one big joke.

    I’m also tired of the opinion that working outside my house makes me wrong or guarantees I’m going to get sick. You want to sit in your basement hugging toilet paper and rocking back and forth, fine. I just don’t need other people’s paranoia, I have enough stress.

  74. EasyCheesy*

    I want to preface this by saying that I’m extremely grateful that I still have a job, and I’m also extremely grateful that my job does not involve interacting with the public. (I work in an essential healthcare business but in an administrative office setting, not clinical.)

    My workplace is open with a skeleton crew, only three of us here (interacting as little as possible), just to keep the gears in motion. The ones who were not chosen to keep working are still being paid. I will confess that there’s a part of me that is a little resentful that other people are being paid to not work while I’m here doing my job and parts of theirs as well. I know what I’m doing is vital, though, and people are grateful that we are still working.

    I do still worry about taking something home, though. I live with my elderly parents.

    Social media seems full of people who are fighting boredom or trying to figure out ways to fill all their free time while I’m working more than ever, and it’s a strange disconnect.

    The thing I’m really struggling with is that all my sources of stress are still in place, and new ones have been added, but all my forms of stress release have been taken from me. The gym and yoga studio are closed. The movie theaters are closed. The coffee shop is carry-out only. It was announced today the state parks are closing, so no more hiking. I don’t have a big enough space in my house to do workouts at home. I was using the deck as a workout space, but last night the mosquitos were already out and biting so that’s not going to be an option much longer. I guess I’ll just walk circles in my kitchen? I don’t know.

    I’m sick with worry, exhausted from working so much, suffering from back pain because I can’t exercise properly. Just all around misery. And I know I’ve still got it better than many others, so then I feel guilty on top of everything else, for being unhappy.

    1. fposte*

      “Social media seems full of people who are fighting boredom or trying to figure out ways to fill all their free time while I’m working more than ever, and it’s a strange disconnect.”

      I think that’s because the super-busy people aren’t posting on social media (or reading peppy articles about what to do during their free time), so it’s an illusory dominance.

    2. J.B.*

      I am at home and definitely not posting on social media. I’m sorry you are stressed, that sounds difficult. If you want outlets, Yoga with Adriene has some good free workouts on youtube, and some Pilates and Barre studios are doing online stuff. Not sure how small your space is but with those if you can fit a yoga mat somewhere you can probably do it.

  75. Keanu Reeves's Patchy Beard*

    I work in a state public health lab, but I’m not involved in Covid-19 testing. One thing that’s annoying to me is the fact that I go outside only to bike to and from work, and I encounter so many people on the shared walking/biking trail at 5-5:30 who could easily choose to walk at a different time of day! Please don’t go outside during “rush hour” if you can avoid it!

    1. SomebodyElse*

      Chances are those people are wfh so working during those same hours you are. I know my schedule has kept to normal business hours due to meetings and other activities. So really the only thing that has changed for me is that I don’t have commute time. Otherwise none of that fabled flexibility or lower production rates.

  76. Silver Radicand*

    I work as a manager in transportation/hospitality handling one particular client. I’ve had to furlough all my PT employees, several of my FT employees. All the rest of my staff are down to one shift per week.

    It’s been frustrating to feel like I can’t do anything about cuts which I know are affecting my employees. I’ve been trying to do my best to communicate clearly, and assist folks getting on to unemployment, and they couldn’t possibly miss the drop in available work, but still. It feels like I’m frantically trying to keep the ship from collapsing entirely while putting an encouraging face on for my employees.

    It’s lonely.

    Part of me wishes that the client would just close the location down so I could stop feeling responsible for it. Is that a bad way to view this? Anyone have suggestions on how to set aside that feeling of responsibility for things that I can’t control?

    1. RM*

      Im a restaurant manager and I had to furlough 50% of my staff. In one case, someone who has been working for me for almost 10 years. It was heartbreaking.

      And then on top of it all, just wondering if it’s safe to be open? Should we be open? And being told to “grow sales” when I don’t even know if we should be there.

      I know I should be grateful to still have work, so many people in my industry don’t right now. But it’s all very conflicting.

      And it’s awful deciding who to furlough, who to give shifts too and it sucks.

  77. Retail not Retail*

    I work for an organization you wouldn’t assume is essential because it’s not essential for you, people.

    We’re getting paid our regular pay even if we don’t work which is amazing, because otherwise needing money would outweigh health concerns. We have gloves and dust masks and most of our work gets done with space between us and at the very least happens outside.

    2 weeks ago my manager said i know you’ll work your regular hours blah blah blah. Well we got the announcement for the next 2 weeks and now we’re all working half days so someone got to him.

    Traffic has not been better – only good thing is not worrying about school zones.

    We can wear headphones and play music. We also get to leave our tools out and drive through the park again which means being laaaaazy. Only 2 bathrooms are open and we just swipe a golf cart and drive up there.

    I don’t know how essential our work is – grass still has to be cut, weeds attacked, poison ivy removed.

    1. Retail not Retail*

      I also took this week off because of the news of a positive employee followed by the news of the cats at the bronx zoo catching it.

      It feels realer when it happens at a workplace exactly like mine.

  78. Beth*

    Allison, please help! Those of us who are not working from home, and are posting in this thread, are getting judgey pushback in the comments to our posts. Please, we need a safe space to talk about what our lives are like. I would rather not be food for the jerks just now.

    1. Blueberry*

      IIRC Allison has said before that replying to a comment with a link helps her spot the comment, because she has to view and approve any cmment that has a link. You could reply to such comments with a link to the site rules, to both respond to people being awful and to flag the comment for her?

      *goes to get site rules link and follow my own advice*

      1. Beth*

        Thank holy hannah, she stepped in. And thanks for the tip — I will remember that another time! (Although I hope there won’t be one!)

  79. Nikara*

    I’m an emergency manager, so I’ve been doing 12+ hour days for most of the last month and a half. I’m grateful that they’ve figured out ways to schedule us so we have “on weeks”- where we fill a role in the physical Emergency Operations Center (a very large room with at least 40+ people in it at all times) alternating with “off weeks” where we can support the operations from our desks, which are a bit calmer. I’ve been “On” since February 27th, and just started my first “off week” on Wednesday, which is well timed, because I definitely hit a wall on Sunday/Monday.

    It’s been really, really weird. It feels like the rest of the of the world is having a collective “stay at home” experience, while most of my life is the same as any other disaster. The huge challenge for me is that most of the ways that I usually use to de-stress from disaster response work aren’t available, like getting a massage, or working out at the gym. Coming home each night and scrolling through social media feeds is surreal- everyone’s stay at home experiences are so different from what I’m living every day.

    Another challenge with working in government disaster response is a lot of the normal ways of managing anxiety don’t work for me. I saw a workbook yesterday that recommended looking at the things you can and can’t control, with “the government response” in the “can’t control” category. That’s not quite true for me- I can sort of affect that, and not being able to affect it more, when I really am “in the room” can be very frustrating. I’m also not allowed to unplug in traditional ways- it’s my job, literally, to know what is going on locally and elsewhere, and to try to bring best practices to my City. So I’ve got to keep an eye on things.

    Finally, I’m living life with the assumption that I’m sick all the time, and I’m spending time around people all the time. I’m doing everything I can to wear a mask whenever I speak to someone else in the room, and stay far away from people, but not everyone in the building is doing the same, which can just raise my anxiety. My biggest fear is actually getting sick- I interact with a lot of people every day, and try to be incredibly careful, but if one of us got sick, it would shut down a huge part of the operation. We’ve been moving towards being able to be virtual, but that’s really, really complicated with all of the government processes that need to take place.

    Here are the things that are working for us- we have re-designed our EOC to encourage social distancing, removing every other chair from the room and putting stop signs on every other computer station. We have lots of wipes, and play a silly video as we wipe down our workstation every 3 hours. We also do a group stretching session a couple of times a day- even our military liaisons and fire/police personnel join in. And this weekend, during my “off week”, I’m taking four continuous days off. Hopefully, part of the way through those days I’ll be able to detach from work enough to let my mind rest a bit.

  80. Raine*

    While I am not essential (started my home crafting business at the beginning of the year), nearly everyone else in my household is. My husband is the dairy buyer for a grocery store, one roommate works (customer service) for a biomedical facility, and another roomie is management at a local fast food chain. They’re all doing far more work than normal, but my husband is treated the best with extra salary, PTO guaranteed if he ends up with the virus, and double-pay overtime. The last roommate does private lessons and is doing them entirely online now, which while great for her, means that the rest of us can’t make any noise over a dull murmur for a solid third of the day. It’s getting a little maddening.

    For the most part, our lives have gone on as normal. But I see the frustration as the world around us ‘struggles’ with having so much ‘free time’, while we’re still working just as much always (if not more).

  81. dinoweeds*

    I manage a recreational dispensary in Colorado and we are considered an essential business, right up there with liquor stores and grocery stores. This may seem petty, but I have NOT ONCE seen a post or meme thanking budtenders and liquor store staff. In person we maybe get thanked once out of every twenty people in the shop. Please don’t forget about us. My staff and I risk ourselves and our families every day because this is to stressful to deal with sober.

  82. CAAmazonQueenVelociraptor*

    Good morning all! Essential worker/contractor for the US Navy. My command (i.e. customer, the Navy) and my company have been amazing at trying to ensure everyone is safe, keep people at home as necessary, cleaning on a daily basis, and communicating early (I know, a freaking miracle for the Navy!). I recognize how lucky I am that my team and I still have jobs, especially since our jobs don’t translate very well to WFH.

    With all that being said, I still find myself getting irritated and angry with individuals around me, because they are not following the regulations the state of California and Fed Gov’t has put out (no more than 10, 6ft apart, must wear masks while at work, yada yada). Not mad enough to tackle a bunch of teenage girls or fly to Guam to yell and swear at a bunch of Sailors, who just lost a beloved CO, but enough to talk with them and get the whole “too cool for school”…I get either willful ignorance or willful negligent responses. Everything from “mind your own business” to “I’m not going to let anyone take my rights away”. I’m not trying to be dramatic, but it’s because of these people that this whole disease and lockdown will last longer. It’s like vaccines, the herd mentality is what’s going to get us through this and enough people disregard the regulations (I’m not saying it has to be permanent after things get under control), it’s going to be a long summer.

  83. Free Meerkats*

    My group is mostly working from home, but there are things that need to be done that can’t be done from home. We have one person scheduled in the office each day. At home we’re able to do most of our paperwork and database maintenance, working on procedures and enforcement, and I’m rewriting our ordinances and Program Manual.

    We are in the middle of the Sampling Project That May Never End. So we are sampling in the sewer collection system every day. That involves two people for safety. So we take two trucks, stay as far apart from each other as possible around the manhole, do what we can to avoid creating wastewater aerosols, and use hand sanitizer before getting back in the trucks. Now that the guidance has changed, we are wearing masks as well. The person not scheduled to be in the office goes home after turning samples into the lab.

    The operators and maintenance staff at the sewer treatment plant now are working with staff divided into two alternating groups and staying as apart as possible. The lab staff is divided in two, working 2 weeks on/two weeks WFH. The plant and lab staff are mostly working on whatever remote training courses they can get, also working on writing and updating procedures.

    As far as cleaning up, last thing I do before leaving the office is changing to a clean uniform if I went sampling, and wash my hands. When I get home, first thing I do is wash, then change to sweats.

  84. Perpal*

    I’m an oncologist and I think the hardest thing is trying to figure out who needs to come in and who we can get away with delaying things (like surveillance scans; there is usually an acceptable range), and how to get some meds delivered at home (some injectables are pretty low risk but the mechanics of getting someone a specialty med at home that is usually administered by a nurse is… interesting, and the price varies wildly depending on the setting. because of the vagarities of insurance and billing, I often don’t know whether the price will be something outrageous or nothing until I actually try to order and do it!)
    Mostly we are sticking to guidelines and things are working, and I think the push for more remote stuff is in some ways actually quite positive, but who is available and what we can do keeps changing so much it’s… interesting.
    We are also planning for a surge though so far my area is ok.

    1. Sleepless*

      I’m a veterinarian and our veterinary oncologists are struggling with this too. One of them called me the other day because a patient of mine is due for her next staging and they are basically closed. Fortunately all she needs is chest films and an abdominal US. I’m not sure what we’ll do if she needs something I can’t do.

      1. Perpal*

        We appreciate all the primaries and other services who are helping us consolidate care, that is for sure!!! I am doing some tele new patient visits/consults, though am uncomfortable ordering anything for someone I haven’t seen in person; PCPs and others (radonc, surgons) have really stepped up.

  85. CupcakeCounter*

    What would be the most meaningful method of support right now? Both for the people who live with you and your loved ones you can’t physically connect with?

    (If this too far off the intent of the post, please delete)

    1. Retail not Retail*

      If you’re working from home and not high risk, you could offer to pick up stuff that can’t be delivered. Because it’s like great… 8 hours of exposure and now i gotta go to the store

      1. Perpal*

        I admit, since I’m the one out and about anyway, I figure I might as well be the one to go to the store.

  86. Valancy Snaith*

    I work at Starbucks (for a little while longer, at least). My store is closed and employees are receiving catastrophe pay, which is based on average hours worked. All cafe-only stores are closed and drive-thru stores are open on a district-by-district basis.

    However, on behalf of employees who are still going to work: be nice. Employees are under an immense amount of stress, worried about their health, their jobs, everything. Stores are requiring employees to wear masks, but not always providing them. It’s a scary situation and lots of people are not taking it seriously (hint: if you’re coming to Starbucks every single day with your four kids in the car and ordering a load of frappucinos, you’re not taking it seriously) and are taking out their stress and worry on baristas. They are doing their best. Please, please, please be nice. Tip if you can. Wash your hands or use sanitizer. Use tap and avoid using cash if you can possibly manage it. Just…be nice to them.

    1. Robin Ellacott*

      Love your username! That is one of my comfort food books.

      Needed to echo the “be nice.” Our clients at work who are usually very troubled have been more appreciative than usual, but a friend who manages a store has old me appalling stories of physical threats, customers making formal complaints about obviously precautionary policies, staff in tears, etc.. It seems this brings out the best and the worst in us, often dramatically in both directions.

  87. irene adler*

    I’m in IVD and am still reporting to work. I work in the lab. We’re very busy as we’ve experienced a surge in demand for testkits for flu-like diseases. So not COVID-19 directly. We’re keeping our social distancing and wiping down door handles, common surfaces and the like. We have also kept our calibration schedule and brought in vendors to achieve this. One vendor was most grateful as this was the first time in 4 weeks he’d had work. We made sure to pay him -by check- that day. He said that really helped. Wish we could do more for the guy.

    It’s spooky when I travel to and from work. No traffic. I’m in a business park where the parking lots and streets are nearly vacant. Never seen that before.

    Biggest issue: someone (a co-worker!) stole ALL the N95 masks and the gowns we had in our inventory. We use these to formulate certain reagents. Management very angry over this. Replacement inventory might arrive in late May. Meanwhile, we’re not able to produce these reagents.

    The thief left the boxes of masks and just stuffed cardboard into them. Made it look like inventory was all there. Someone happened to need a mask when they discovered the crime. All of the liquid soap supply in the janitor’s closet is gone as well. Management facing the unhappy realization that, as a company of 13 people, we are in close quarters with a thief.

    Part of me feels like I’d like to work from home or be furloughed for a bit. But I totally understand that I’m damn lucky to have a job. Not gonna complain. Just keep marching forward. I am paying my personal service providers (dog groomer, beautician) for missed appointments since I do have work. It’s only fair.

    1. Blueberry*

      Someone stole ALL the PPD and disguised the thefts? That’s horrible! May the fleas of a thousand camels infest their underwear drawer!

  88. Library Lady*

    I was going to work as normal until last week and it was hard (and its possible that this work from home thing isn’t going to last very long). I work in a library and we were closed to the public, but still coming in to answer phones, work on projects, etc. For me the hardest part was being on social media and seeing all my friends working from home and complaining about how hard it was. It was just very demoralizing for me when all I could think about was how much I wanted to be home and safe. So I limited the amount of social media scrolling I did, opting to send more emails, texts, and DMs to family and friends I wanted to keep in contact with (especially friends in my profession who are experiencing the same thing). Also, checking in with online groups for librarian where I could chat with others who were also in the same position (though I had to be careful because sometimes comments in the library groups can get very hostile). Also, doing what I could at home to distract myself from thinking about work (lots of TV show binges and novel reading).

    1. Paris Geller*

      Man, this is me now. I’m working in a library that is closed to the public but we’re still coming in. We’re also doing curbside service. I don’t think we should be doing either of those things, but it’s not my call or even my boss call or her boss’ boss call–it’s coming down from not just library administration, but city administration, and there’s no arguing with that. I would love SO MUCH to be home and doing what I can from home. Because of my position, most of my job is behind-the-scenes anyway. I could do 80% of it from home. I have a work laptop, for goodness’ sakes! But because we’re municipal employees, ALL departments are considered “essential”. . . even the ones that are closed, like the libraries and parks and recreation. I’m not handling it well at all, to be honest. I’m a nervous wreck when I’m in and I’m getting so little done when normally I’m a high performer.

      1. Library Lady*

        Yep we are all considered essential as well, and some of my staff are being sent to other departments in the county to work now, which is frustrating. And yes, its not my call or the directors call, but county administration. And when I’ve shared my story online, a lot of people don’t get that and want me to do something about it. I can advocate for my staff (I’m a manager), but I have no authority to assign work from home.

        I spent weeks being unable to sleep (and am still not sleeping all that well), so I completely get feeling like a nervous wreck. And my productivity has been in the toilet from the beginning.

        1. librarienne*

          Out of curiosity, are you both in states with looser stay at home/shelter in place orders? It seems that what is deemed essential varies a lot state by state. I’m so sorry that the city isn’t supporting you. My library closed mid-March, when our local schools closed (about a week ahead of our state-wide order). At first their plan was to still make us come in but by the next day they realized it was unsafe. Hope you both stay safe.

          1. Paris Geller*

            Thank you. My state (Texas) is under a stay-at-home order (though it took awhile), but all municipal governments are considered essential, despite that municipalities have so many different departments. I haven’t loved my city’s leadership in this case, as there decisions about who gets sent home and who doesn’t seems a bit. . . random. Obviously, street crews, water utilities, etc. are essential. Many of the departments that work at city hall were sent to work from home. Our biggest department is parks and recreation, with a lot of part-time workers, and that department is just . . . all over the place right now. Some working from home, some being diverted to other departments.

  89. Brigitte*

    I’m a welder for a company that provides structural steel to construction sites. It’s weird being considered essential but not front lines. All (or vast majority of) the company’s office workers are now WFH. It caused a lot of resentment among the workers in the plant who don’t have that option. The company is doing its best in the circumstances so thats good.
    Personally I have good days and bad days. Hardest part for me is actually the uncertainty of whether there will be layoffs. Constructions site are shutting down. So who knows.

  90. QuinleyThorne*

    Non-medical essential state worker here.

    Our agency is the regulating body for the alcohol industry, so we’re on the “other” front lines in that we’re still operating and working to provide assistance and guidance for all the small business owners, but our office closed to the public back in mid-March. I was given the option to work from home, but declined; my job is largely public-facing, answering and directing calls, scheduling appts., taking complaints, etc., but my given job class does not qualify for a work phone, or surface-pro. I would’ve had to take my work computer home, which is not an option for me: the apartment I share with my husband is older, not very large, with a limited number of power outlets…three of which are broken and won’t be fixed as the apartment has halted all non-emergency maintenance. My husband is a software developer for a 3rd party hospital billing office, and is working from home, utilizing the only feasible working space we have. Also while we don’t live in the hood proper, we hear distant gunfire on a regular enough basis that we’re at least hood-adjacent, so I didn’t feel comfortable taking state property home during this desperate and emotionally-fraught time. Thankfully, my supervisors were incredibly understanding, and did what they could to make sure I was safe while working. On the upside, I live close by–my commute is a mercifully short 10 minutes, so it’s not an inconvenience for me to just come to work. And with our offices closed to the public, a majority of staff are working from home, and there’s no foot traffic from walk-ins, so they instituted relaxed-dress, so I’ve been able to wear jeans every day. It’s not a huge perk given the circumstances, but with times like these, I’m taking my joy where I can get it.

    Like other states, the governor here barred dine-in for all locations–delivery and pick up only. The only locations that are allowed to continue operating are ones that have a permanent, on-site kitchen. In the immediate wake of the disaster declaration, the phones were ringing off the hook, mostly permittees asking what’s allowed, what to do if they can’t make/afford payment deadlines, etc. Some owners just cancelled their permits and closed permanently. Other calls have been from the public putting in complaints about locations that continue to operate for dine-in, or are only half compliant, etc. The phones have died down since the first week, and I only get about a handful of calls every day. I’m in enforcement, so we’re still processing complaints, but there are less cases, and we’ve had to temporarily relax the penalties given the circumstances. The office is mostly empty; I’m pretty sure there’s literally only 10 of us here at any given time, so it’s eerily quiet. We’re quarantining our mail for 48 hrs before opening it, washing our hands, wiping stuff down. Trying to keep busy, maintain some sense of normalcy. They let me bring my Switch to work, so I’ve been playing Animal Crossing.

    Work-wise, I have it pretty good all things considered, but outside of the work routine, things are hard. I’ve spent a lot of days angry, afraid, and tired. My husband struggles with mental illness too, and he’s going absolutely stir-crazy, walking to the corner store is pretty much the only way he can get outside right now. We’re both continuing our respective therapy sessions remotely, smiling when we can, venting when we’re frustrated, crying if we need to, and just generally trying to afford each other grace, patience and space.

  91. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

    We haven’t changed one thing around here. Well, the guys at the front counter and the shop guys have been given masks and gloves, but myself and the other accountant haven’t been given diddly (and we are both in high-risk categories, mine is higher risk than hers). The boss does NOT adhere to the 6 foot rule and constantly hovers about 18 inches off of our shoulders, multiple times per day.

    I wake up every morning and swallow, first thing, to make sure things are the same as they were (i.e., no signs of COVID). I worry every day that I’m going to get it. My employer has done NOTHING to make me more comfortable. There has been no commiseration that I’m in a high-risk category (he did tell me if I hadn’t started smoking 35 years ago I wouldn’t be in a high-risk category so….yay me I guess?) and no offer to make any of it better for me.

    My boss has done some amazing mental gymnastics to classify us under one of the “essential” employers and he walks around here acting like everything is just fine.

    Because of all of this, I feel like I’m slowly dying. I go home every night scared. I make sure to clean my house up really well just in case I end up in the hospital and someone else has to come in and feed the cats for me. Of course, if I get the ‘rona, I won’t survive it (major pulmonary issues…asthma, COPD, emphysema, bronchiectasis) so I’m not sure why I care how the house looks……

    1. Jamie*

      I am so sorry you’re going through this additional stress …please take care of yourself.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Did they straight up deny you PPE?! I’d go and snatch some up and say “naturally this is for all staff who has to come into work today, right?” if someone gave you a side eye.

      But I’ll help myself to anything in the shop I feel like, I’ve never asked before, won’t start now.

      And YUCK the victim blaming twist of “You did this to yourself”. Heaven forbid you have respect for someone and understanding of basic addiction knowledge.

  92. spockface*

    Maybe not quite on topic, but this seems like the most applicable place to post this: I work for an essential government agency in a capacity they have officially admitted is non-critical, and my official request to work at home was denied because I don’t have an agency-issued laptop (they’re in short supply because management historically doesn’t like to let people telework). I’m high risk, so was given 2 weeks paid leave, but now that’s expired and I have to be physically in the building again. (My state is under a statewide stay-at-home order until the end of April.)

    Most of my unit has been moved to another part of the building, and the supervisors are in the process of ordering cloth masks for everyone, but I still have people coming to my cube (within 6 feet of me, contradicting guidelines from management) to give me stuff or ask me questions, there’s no sanitizing wipes to be had, the soap dispensers don’t always work, and it’s stressful as hell to know that this risk I have to take is non-essential and could have been avoided if people further up the chain than me had made different choices.

    I’m continuing to make sure that my supervisor and manager know I’m high risk, I have continuing concerns, and I would far prefer to work from home, but it feels a bit like spitting into the wind — none of the choices available to me feel great.

    1. Yes Anastasia*

      Ugh, I’m so sorry. I work for state government and we have been behind the curve as far as teleworking goes, but everyone high-risk has been allowed to telework since last month. Seriously, they can’t order you a laptop?

      1. spockface*

        I have a meeting with my supervisor today to ask that question (in the politest terms possible, natch — it’s not her fault my request was denied, and her request was denied too). I figure that way, at least she has backup for continuing to pressure people up the chain.

  93. KittyKai*

    Credit union employee here. As a financial services employee I’m considered essential, so I’ll be working in with the public for the foreseeable future. Upper management has adopted a policy of increasing social distancing, but not restricting services to our members if possible. We finally shut down our lobby in the end of March and are conducting transactions through the drive up only. We probably were the last credit union in the area to do so. However the lobby is still open by appointment only.

    My coworkers and I are exhausted. We’re having to deal with so much more emotional labor than we are used to with helping our members. The state of the economy has had people freaking out since March. Everyone wants to withdrawal their live savings in cash and are slamming us as hard as grocery stores are for toilet paper.  We’ve had to set withdrawal limits because we can’t keep up with our cash shipments. Since my state has issued a stay at home order people haven’t been in as much to wipe out their savings, but its still happening. We’ve also had to witness our regulars come in with their last paychecks after being laid off which is hard to see. We’ve started an emergency loan deferral program and the wait-list to work with members on their application is also depressingly long. The cherry on top has been the amount of people not obeying the stay at home order, and have been coming through the drive up for unessential transactions that could have been done another way. It’s ridiculous to come by with a $20 check when I can see by the state of their account that they don’t need those funds immediately. They could have mobile deposited that check, or mailed it in, or left it in the night drop box! They have many options other than waiting in a 30 minute line during a pandemic for an instant release of funds.

    So my advice for how everyone can make our lives easier:
    1 Don’t go to your financial institution if you can avoid it, use other remote options if possible.
    2 Avoid using cash, its always filthy. There are no options to sanitize it.
    3 Your funds are federally insured up to 250K, so please don’t empty your accounts in a panic! If financial institutions crash you will still have your money!
    4 And please, please be patient, we know wait times are long, so many people need help right now, and we are trying our best to help everyone.

    1. King Friday XIII*

      This is such a mood; I’m talking to so many people who are having a hard time right now and we’re doing what we can but it feels like such a drop in the bucket.

    2. Granger*

      5 For the love of Pete, please check your account via online banking to see if your stimulus payment is in (PLEASE DON’T CALL US).

  94. Miss V*

    I work for a company that manufactures PPE. I do prototyping and small scale production for things like masks and precaution gowns for doctors. While probably 90% of people in our office can work from home I can not. I’m proud of the work my company is doing but I’m exhausted everyday when I leave.

    I completely agree about feeling disconnected from other people. I pretty much had to disconnect from social media, because I couldn’t help but be resentful of people posting pictures of the beautiful dinners they’re making, and all the household projects they’re tackling with their extra time, meanwhile I’m taking on so many duties that are in no way part of my job because no one else is there to do them that all I have energy for when I get home is watching a tv show I’ve already watched six times before until it’s no longer too early for me to go to bed.

    I’ve also had to field so many requests from friends and family asking if I can get them things like masks and I feel so guilty when I tell them I can’t but the reality is that no, I absolutely can’t. It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s that these are medical grade supplies that need to go to doctors and nurses so they can stay alive to keep everyone else alive.

    I’ve cried several times driving home from work from being overwhelmed, and I’ve just given myself permission to not be my best. I am doing what I have to do at work but everything else is falling by the wayside. My partner is also considered essential and in a similar boat exhaustion wise, so we’ve just accepted that until this is over our house is going to be a mess, it’s sandwiches for dinner, and there’s no shame in falling asleep on the couch (Or at the dinner table. The desk chair. Standing up. Whatever.)

    1. Red Stapler*

      I see you! I see your feelings! I feel overwhelmed too. I’ve started eating a lot of fast food as dinner, which I never used to do. I feel ya on the dinner and home being a hot mess lately. Whatever it takes to get to the other side!

  95. Texas Public Servant*

    I’m considered essential, so I’m at work every day (50+ hrs a week); my employees are alternating between WFH and here. My 83-yr old mom lives with me; my daughter provides hospice care, so she’s definitely essential and is working full time+.

    We are still having church services and daily Bible readings, via Facebook and Zoom, which is definitely a blessing/support. My mom starting out sewing masks for our family members and is now giving them away as fast as she makes them (I’m the scrounger for materials). I run most of the essential errands on my way home in order to keep her safer; cleaning supplies and TP are still impossible to find.

    I’ve set up all doctors’ appointments for videoconferencing, which has been really helpful in keeping Mom safer, and Zoom ‘meetings’ for Mom to visit with the rest of the family – she loves that!

    There IS a noticeable lack of energy at the end of the day and it is vital to find positive things to smile and laugh about. Most of the people I see/talk to are being very cautious and courteous and it seems like almost everyone is trying to be helpful. We mask and glove at work and in the field, to protect our coworkers, family and the public – and it seems as though the social distancing and precautions are helping, although most people out in the public are still not masking.

    Remember that it’s okay to find things to laugh about – it’s okay to listen to/watch comedies, go out in the backyard and scream (or scream in your car/closet), eat chocolate/ice cream, run in place/exercise/yoga/dance – almost anything is okay if it helps you keep your sanity and isn’t harmful to yourself or others. Embrace your inner “Anne Frank” – remember, she spent two years in an attic with family and friends – we’re looking at a much shorter span of time. This, too, shall eventually pass and we will, hopefully, come out better people for the trials.

    1. QuinleyThorne*

      “scream (or scream in your car/closet)”

      One thing that has brought me and my husband a lot of laughs is the “Scream-o-Vision” bit from Freakazoid. When things get too tense or anxious, one of us just goes “screeeeeeam” and we always burst out laughing.

      Also, hello to a fellow Texas public servant! Sending good vibes your way

  96. Yes Anastasia*

    I am a librarian working for state government. Our state has a stay at home order, but state government offices are expected to remain operational. So I am still in the office, providing remote reference services via phone and email. Just a few days ago I got permission to telework, but in order to maintain staffing levels I still have to report to work 3 days a week.

    Obviously I’m anxious about being in the office, but it’s the cognitive dissonance that’s been most frustrating. I am not anyone’s definition of an “essential employee,” and I feel completely overlooked. The state hasn’t really updated its guidance to our agency since they asked us to close to the public last month.

    I know many librarians in my shoes – their jobs don’t lend themselves to telework, so they are still in the office at least part-time. State and local governments don’t want the perception that public-facing workers are at home “doing nothing.” Others are furloughing their workers in order to make up for impending budget shortfalls. By that measure I’m lucky – I’m pretty sure my job and salary are safe. Still, it’s a discouraging situation.

    One thing I’m working on is being more assertive about maintaining social distancing at work – we’re expected to socially distance, but people are still sharing elevators, holding doors for each other, etc. I’m absolutely guilty of this – it’s habit! So I’m going to try to start politely pushing back when people are doing things I find unsafe.

  97. Sled dog mama*

    I’m in healthcare but 80% of my job can be done remotely. We did a huge software upgrade March 21-22, I had to be onsite to supervise that the first two live days, then a day for those physically present things at my secondary site. Finally got to WFH March 26, that morning I got a call from my supervisor “hospital network is down, will let you know when it’s back up”.
    Friends, we are still down. Turns out we got hit with a ransomware attack. We were able to get the vendor to help in getting our treatment machine running so we can continue to treat (did I mention this is a cancer center) that is a whole other very, very long story.
    Our network is still down (and IT has removed all workstations) so we are doing all documentation on paper which means that we have to have everyone in the office.
    We’re hoping that by the end of next week we’ll be able to have systems back but don’t have any date for remote access being restored.
    Yes, IT sucks and we’re waiting to see who is in the hot seat after this.

  98. Sleepless*

    I accidentally nested my comment above, so by golly, I’m doing it again down here! I’m a veterinarian and I’m still going to work. What pretty much every animal hospital is doing is “curbside” service. We have the doors locked and a sign that says “Stay in your vehicle and call this number.” They call us, the receptionist checks them in, the nurse gets the history, and they go out in PPE and get the pet with as little contact with the owner as possible. We do our exam, I call the owner and discuss what we’re doing, more phone stuff is done as they get checked out, and the nurse takes the pet back to them. We’re wiping everything down and washing the hell out of our hands.

    The good: my mental health is so much better being at work. Heck, I’m just savoring spending time in the car. It’s good to see my coworkers. I’m incredibly thankful to be making an income. The pets are honestly a bit better behaved away from their owners.

    The bad: obviously we’re all worried about exposure. We’re having to adjust to a few things: the endless phone stuff is making the receptionists busier, for instance. I’ve found that the conversations I need to have with pet owners are much, much harder on the phone. The absolute worst of all has been how to handle euthanasias. We’re trying not to let clients into the building even for that. I did one on the front porch of our building, with less distancing and less PPE than I would have preferred.

    Other things: I wear scrubs every day instead of just surgery days. I’ve stopped wearing any jewelry because nobody new is seeing me and it’s just one more thing to worry about keeping clean. (I put in earrings at home every few days so my holes don’t close up!) I’m still fixing my hair because it makes me feel human.

    1. Miss V*

      I just want to thank you for what you’re doing. I had to take my cat to the vet last night because I was worried he might have a blocked urethra. My vet handled everything exactly as you’d described and while I hated having to sit in my car and not be with him I was so glad to know I was able to get him looked at. Thankfully it ended up being nothing but I am so so grateful my vet was able to check him out.

      I know you’re putting yourself at risk every day and I know no thanks in the world is enough but this cat mom is forever grateful people like you keep showing up despite your personal risk.

      1. Sleepless*

        Aw, thank you! I have to say that almost 100% of our pet parents have been completely understanding and kind. It definitely helps.

    2. A. Ham*

      I want to echo the BIG thanks for doing what you are doing. My dog has been totally fine during this time (thankfully! Knock on wood!), but she is a senior and has had some health issues in the past year or so, and i don’t know what i would do if something were to pop up again and i couldn’t take her in.
      THANK YOU.

    3. Lahey*

      Reading this breaks my heart. I know vet’s offices can by emotionally difficult in the best of times, adding the stress of worrying about your health must demand a high level of resilience. I hope you’re getting plenty of support from those around you.

      I lost my own dog a month ago, and while it was far too soon, I’m thankful I never had to put her through chemo when during a time where I couldn’t be with her in the waiting room and be right there as soon as she was done. Not to mention the anxiety of maybe passing the virus the emergency vet staff and the only vet oncologist in the area.

      For the euthanasias, are you staying with them the whole time? I think it would good if you could give people time alone with their pet before and after, and using PPE as much as possible when administering the shot.

  99. AKchic*

    For me, it feels like it’s working late at night during the summer on a holiday weekend.

    The sun is still out (because it’s Alaska), the roads are pretty bare (because most people are already at their destinations), and the office is boring (hey, no change there!).

    There *are* some changes in my routine at work, though. What little person-to-person contact I used to have is cut down. We get notifications of what buildings we aren’t allowed in anymore (usually it’s reminders of which ones are still off-limits, once in a while it’s a new building), all of my morning paperwork is brought in at once if at all possible, and the bosses told us that we aren’t allowed to carpool anymore (my mom and I are the only two workers in our department, so if one of us gets sick, because of carpooling, the other automatically has to quarantine is their thought process).

    On top of all of that, I have three kids still at home (two high schoolers and an elementary schooler) and a husband who just started new medication and is out of work (and I’m using our only vehicle)

  100. Jh*

    I’m working from home but hubby isn’t. He’s in emergency communications, so a first… First responder. Luckily he just switched to days due to a promotion so whenever he is off we go for a nice long morning walk.

    When he gets home I make sure the kitchen is clean and house is tidy so he can relax when he gets back. Our life is not usually this way lol! Until he has to go to bed at around 930. So we both get a nice early night and he is up around 5am for work.

    So we’re mixing routine with daily exercise. Once a week or so we drive locally and get dine out pickup from a local place to add some excitement to our lives

    I am also managing online grocery shops for pickup a week in advance. Something he would usually do when I was at work. Plus, I just subscribed to a biweekly local produce delivery. We wonder why we didn’t do this before? It’s less tempting, cheaper and so convenient!

    They are planning to split his shift between two locations soon. So far no internal infections but just in case they need to split them up. Most days social distancing is easy to achieve but there are days where it has been tight so they are planning on moving half his shift to a police building a mile or so away from their current workplace.

    They are being taken care of. I am so grateful to his new boss for being so thoughtful about their health. Making sure they have cleaning supplies as they share desks… ack.

    And now with online shopping there is no reason he should be going anywhere else except work, daily exercise, and the gas station biweekly.

    I know his job is secure and I hope I can keep mine. So glad he got promoted just as this began. Gives me peace of mind to have a little more cash. I am feverishly saving just in case.

  101. Red Stapler*

    Hi. I just need a place to vent safely and anonymously. Thank you SO much to the person who wrote in asking for this space and to Alison and the AAM group for providing the space.

    I am a physician and I work in the laboratory. We are very busy, in a different pivoted way (confirmatory SARS-CoV-2 RNA testing! that’s us!). I also manage lab staff and other doctors, so I spend a lot of time reading up on the CDC, [my state]’s Department of Public Health, and WHO guidelines for best practices. I have had way more conversations about swabs and viricides than I ever thought I would as a medical student. I am busy! But many of my friends and family are at home and they are alternately: scared, bored, defiant, scared, sad, angry, bored, and scared again. I have had SEVERAL Come To Jesus Talks with my family about the importance of staying home and distancing. I end my days basically racing home to join in on Zoom/FaceTime/Hangouts chats with people who have been safe at home all day and now are bored and want to chat. People who I haven’t spoken with in YEARS want to call and share feelings. I about lost it earlier this week when somebody told me to download House Party so we could play games together. YOU GUYS, I spend my days doing clinical work and personnel management and filtering information to be a source of reliable medical knowledge to my staff and my family; I don’t have time to play Heads Up?!?!?! [pant pant pant]

    I thought I was just annoyed and handling it ok, but then last Friday I read the Elmo vignette on Vulture’s If I Wrote A Coronavirus Episode (https://www.vulture.com/2020/04/if-i-wrote-a-coronavirus-episode.html) and started crying. And my chin broke out in massive zits. And I started my period 2 weeks early. And I have really bizarre vivid dreams. So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m not handling it as well as I thought. But mostly, I need people to let me do my job and let me process. I’ve asked people just to text me support instead of asking for face time or phone time. I don’t have that to give right now. Thanks for listening.

    1. LQ*

      I feel you on all of this. The people who are bored and needing and wanting support are kind of on my last nerve. I’ve sort of stopped responding to them. I did sort of tag someone else in on one person. (I can’t be the support for Cousin, Other Cousin the best way to support me is to support Cousin. Ok!)

      Texting is so much better. I can basically only handle talking to my sister, everyone else is too much work right now.

      So busy!

  102. CrazyEight*

    I’m in the category of still going to work in an office every day because my employer hasn’t given me an option to work from home. Therefore I’m also the only person going to the grocery store etc when needed. It’s an odd position because when I go home I feel like I should be distancing myself from my family when I’m at home. It in no way compares to a lot of other people who’s jobs are putting them greatly at risk going home to their families but i feel it’s silly for my family to be at home for their safety but I’m coming and going every day.
    I’m also struck by how the assumption is that everyone is home. My children’s teachers, church groups, my friends. So while everyone else (it seems) is at home overseeing their kids online learning, I’m calling and texting my children (5th & 6th grade) to make sure they are doing ok getting onto their class video calls checking their homework in the evening (although that’s not different from before, but there’s more of it). Friend groups are doing zoom group calls in the middle of the day, same with a womans group at church I’m a part of, they recently did a group video call at 2:00 on a Friday, last night for Easter Week they did a “drive thru Easter goodie bag handout” since they had all this stuff for Easter but now there’s no in person service but they did it from 4:00-6:00 (prior to this there were Wed night groups that met at 6:30), I don’t get home until 6:00 so I couldn’t take my kids, and can’t ask a grandparent….
    I know this is very small in terms of what a lot of people are going thru and I am not complaining, I’m truly not, just stating what my experiences have been

  103. Third or Nothing!*

    All y’all on the front lines of this mess: There’s not a lot I can do to support you as a random Internet stranger, but what I can do is run..in my rural-ish neighborhood, far away from other people. Anyone who wants me to dedicate a mile to you, comment and I’ll reply once I’m finished. (Unless comments close before I get the chance, which is a likely scenario if I get a ton of responses.)

    It’s not much, but it’s a little bit of connection in these increasingly isolating and scary times and I hope it gives you a little ray of sunshine.

    1. Beth*

      Okay, I’ll take you up on that! Please pick a mile with some nice lovely trees in it, if you can, and take some lovely deep breaths full of delicious rural-ish air.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Done! I hiked 1.3 miles in a breathtakingly beautiful (and weirdly deserted) nature preserve not too far from my house. Stopped to let my toddler explore the super shallow creek and had a picnic. It was good.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Got 1.14 mile in the neighborhood while my toddler freaked the heck out at being left behind…after she said she didn’t want to come. So your quick mile is dedicated to teaching my kid to mean what she says.

        We went back out together to putter around the alley and that was an extra half a mile.

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        I gave you 2.75! The weather yesterday was far too beautiful to do any less. I pushed my daughter in her stroller around the rural-ish neighborhood we live near. It’s such an odd little enclave in the middle of a booming metropolis – country lanes, horse and cattle pastures, huge plots of land with big farmhouses. It’s like I cross the street and I’m back home in the farming/ranching community where I grew up (minus the meth houses).

  104. a*

    I am just here to complain. We were told last month that we would be rotating to have staff on hand for emergencies (I work in a crime lab). There are 3 people in my section, and they wanted 2 in at a time. After 2 weeks, they decided since we (just in my section – other sections have some limited ability to do a minimal amount of work) couldn’t work from home at all, we all needed to go in. Guess who is the 1 person in our whole lab…and probably the whole state…who did not get at least 1 free paid week at home. MEEEEEE!!!! The best part about this is that all of the time off is off the books, and my boss could have just told me to stay home.

    Generally, I would say that we don’t really need to be here…except that there have been 3 cases in which our services were legitimately required in the last 2 weeks. But, we could be on call.

    Oh well – I am a week away from my 25th anniversary here, so that means I have lots of vacation time. Doesn’t look like I’m going anywhere this year, so I’ll have to use it otherwise. Tomorrow looks like a good day to stay home!

    1. LQ*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who is a little annoyed about other people getting paid time at home while I’m busting my butt. I know I know it’s for the good and all that. But most of those people get paid a whole lot more than me and to do a WHOLE lot less normally and now nothing. I’m trying hard to not care, but some days it really grates.

  105. H.C.*

    Government healthcare admin here – still working on job site, though 80% of staff here have transitioned to telework (so I guess there’s distancing in that I’m one of the few still in off.)

    I’m not particularly upset about coming to office (def helps prevent the cabin fevers many of my always-at-home colleagues & friends are experiencing), but there are definitely growing pains in working with teleworking staff, partly with staff who are less tech savvy (esp when they make that known AFTER missing a deadline), partly with everyone just having less patience & venting frustrations due to the crisis & adjustments we all have to make, partly with management’s “be thankful you still have a job” attitude while making not-quite reasonable expectations of an already-reduced workforce (I don’t mind tackling extra duties and covering extra hours, but things definitely won’t be at its usual pace, let alone “fast-tracked” – if everything’s a priority, nothing really is.)

    But yeah, trying to keep my cool in the meantime as we ride this out.

  106. Admininja*

    Local government worker here. While some of my colleagues can work from home, my department can’t due to the nature of our work. My husband is also an essential worker, though most of his work can be done from our couch (which was true pre-COVID-19). We’re both stressed about who I’ll encounter, especially since I have health conditions that put me at added risk. It doesn’t help that my brother, who lives far away, has the virus & is now using an inhaler. The best thing I’ve found to relive some of the stress is for us to help. I sew, & my husband has a 3D printer. We’re making masks as fast as we can go. It’s enjoyable work that expands our understanding of our respective crafts & makes us feel better about being part of the solution. There’s something calming about using that nervous energy to be productive instead of just fretting. My advice for all of us worriers is to do all you can to protect yourself, & then see what you can do for others, even if it doesn’t feel like much. It pays dividends to all involved.

  107. Jennifer*

    My husband is an “essential worker” and has to work everyday. He was given a mask that we have to figure out how to disinfect and reuse everyday, gloves, and minimal “hazard pay” that I think should be more. He is in good spirits, and the extra money helps, but I just have the feeling that the company really doesn’t care about the frontline workers. All the corporate employees are home. He has no sick leave so staying home isn’t an option for us, though the employees were told they could stay home without pay.

  108. What does essential really mean?*

    I work in construction and while I don’t consider what we do essential services, our governor does and therefore we are continuing to operate. I am grateful that my office is small, as well as continuing to have a job and income, but I feel immense guilt for going out in the world and possibly exposing my family. I am taking precautions as much as possible, but nonetheless, I am the wildcard. I am out in the world. As a single mom it is very hard to know that I might be the source of exposure for my child or my parents, with whom my child spends most days of the week since school is cancelled. Everybody has their own experience in this strange new world none more valid than others. The ennui of social distancing/isolating has its challenges. Going out in the world to continue to provide also has its challenges. We are not disregarding the need to distance – we are between a rock and a hard place.

    1. Tathren*

      I’m in a construction-adjacent field and in a similar position to you – I don’t think my job is “essential” but the company has been classified that way so I’m still working, albeit on limited hours because we have fewer new jobs coming in.

      I feel lucky that I live alone and the only place I leave my house to go is work, where I have limited contact with my coworkers, so my odds of exposure or exposing others is probably fairly low. But I’ve gotten several comments from people outside this field expressing disbelief that I’m still working or judging me for going into the office when I don’t have a choice in the matter if I want to keep my job.

      “Between a rock and a hard place” is the perfect way to put it. I can’t afford to not work, but I still feel guilty every time I have to come into the office.

      1. Aiani*

        I really feel you on this. I feel guilt for going to work but if I don’t go to work they will fire me. I need my job.

  109. Sigrid*

    ER doctor. My schedule hasn’t changed, except all our non-clinical meetings are Zoom now (but we still have far too many). Emergency medicine right now is a weird combination of stressful, because every patient you see has a contagious disease that might kill you and we don’t have enough PPE, and boring, because every patient you see has the same thing. No one goes into EM because they want to see the same thing all the time. I also constantly worry about the people with non-COVID emergencies who are staying home because they’re afraid to come into the ER, and how many are going to die or end up with serious morbidity as a result. In the meantime I’m sending person after person upstairs knowing they’re very unlikely to leave the hospital alive and trying not to think about it. Pronouncing people over the phone that EMS has found dead at home and trying not to think about it. Watching the number of available vents at my hospital creep ever downward and trying not to think about it. Reusing gowns and masks and trying not to think about it.

    Traffic is a lot better, though. That’s nice.

    1. TurtleIScream*

      Thank you! I made an ER trip last night for uncontrolled asthma. My doctor has virtual visits, but couldn’t assess my lungs to call in a prescription. I was scared to death that I would not be considered critical enough to be seen, or that I would catch something from someone else. I really have no idea what to do for you actual frontline workers keeping us alive. Somehow, a basket of homemade goodies a few months from now doesn’t seem to convey how much we appreciate you now.

    2. Susan*

      I am so grateful for what you are doing. The only thing I can think of to help is to try to stay out of your way, which also feels selfish, and to pray .

  110. FedEx Spouse*

    My husband is your FedEx guy. They are working very long hours worth the increase in shipping and are being treated like they are the virus incarnate. Businesses do not let them in and they have to bang on the door or call to have someone come get the package. Homeowners won’t open the door and will yell to him through it. He is thankfully now able/required to sign for you so you don’t touch his pen, but it’s been rough. Be nice to your delivery people. They are the reason you don’t have to go out and they are the reason the medical supplies get where they are needed.

    1. LilPinkSock*

      That breaks my heart. Kindness is what’ll get our society through this and I’m beyond upset that some people are SIPping in style and abusing the ones who make that possible.

    2. anon24*

      Tell your husband thank you so much from this EMT. I have been staying home except for work and am so, so grateful for my delivery people right now.

  111. Aiani*

    I work in an industry that I wouldn’t have necessarily considered essential but the state government decided to consider them essential. I want to say more about what they make but then I feel like my comment becomes too identifiable. I feel weird about the whole thing, on the one hand I’m grateful to still have a job and on the other hand I sort of feel like we should be shut down. It makes me think a lot about finding a new job whenever things get back to some semblance of normal. I feel like this pandemic really highlights dysfunctional work places, they can’t hide the dysfunction in their response and employees notice.

    My husband is a truck driver so he is definitely still working. The good thing is that he is not even going inside of truck stops, he gets all his food at home on the weekend and then he stays totally isolated in his truck all week.

    My brother in law is a fire fighter so he is of course, still working as well. He and my sister pretty much assume that they will eventually get the virus because of his work so they are being very careful not to see anyone outside of his going to work, trying not to go into grocery stores or anything. Really that is true for my husband and I as well, we fear we might get sick because of my job.

  112. The WH chick*

    I work in food distribution… we’ve got warehouses full of just about everything… we’re working around the clock to get the products out to the stores.. we are tired! But – we keep going. It’s just who we are. I’m proud if Everyone I work with. They’re true warriors

    1. Katurah-Ari*

      I work as a third party vendor in a ‘big box store’. So I’m there almost everyday putting up signs and stocking products for clients (bet u didn’t know employees aren’t the only ones stocking shelves). The most distressing part if my job is to see how CROWDED and GREEDY pple can be. How can I practice social distancing when the stores are just as crowded as any other day? Do you really need 6 rolls of toilet paper? Why are you reaching over that lady in a wheelchair to take the last lysol? Please don’t drop your used gloves in the parking lot.

      It’s also a mind trip bc I suffer from sinus and allergies. So is that a covid cough or just a regular sneeze? Lol

      My husband is a firefighter too. So we’re both out the house trying to stay safe.

      OH and I have major fomo bc my friends schedule afternoon zoom calls, wine down Fridays, and workout parties. And here I am putting out more diapers lol

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Thank you for the diapers & incontinence products. I noticed that gap at big box store and can’t imagine the horror for people who have no idea what to do without them.

  113. MeredithMcT*

    My husband is deemed essential by Massachusetts; he owns a funeral home. I work full-time (now at home) and manage his back office. He is exposed to risk daily and I am as well. I am accomplishing all tasks from home while he has to be in and out (the funeral home is not part of our home so at least there is that …). He has protective gear but there is still so much to be learned about this virus. His approach is to assume anyone he interacts with has the virus. The business remains ‘open’ simply because we feel we cannot abandon the community during this time.
    My dad and his wife live across the street from us and we’ve cut all contact with them out of fear of spreading the virus. Sadly, we’re assuming we will get it and we refuse to spread it to anyone.
    And so wait, take each day very carefully, and try to manage the stress.

    1. Robin Ellacott*

      I just listened to a podcast this morning that interviewed a funeral director and I felt like he was a hero for the work he was doing under horrible, busy, stressful circumstances. I hadn’t considered it before… so many people affected in so many ways right now. I wish you and your husband the best.

  114. Lizy*

    I feel guilty complaining because I’m very blessed, in many ways. I’m essential in that I’m an admin/customer service for a fuel company – if I don’t do my job, farmers don’t get fuel, they can’t plant, and then it’s a whole ‘nuther issue because food. I’m still working in the office, but it’s locked and I rarely actually see anyone. So it’s not like I’m really putting myself at risk like grocery store workers or nurses/doctors or even my drivers that deliver the fuel.

    But…I want to be able to go to the store without worrying and/or somewhat freaking out. I’ve been going a lot less, mainly because both my husband and I are worried about what happens if I do get it – I’m pregnant and due in about 6-7 weeks. I want to be able to go get a freakin’ sandwich across the street without thinking twice about “well maybe I shouldn’t”. I want to have a better answer for my kids when they ask if they are going back to school or if baseball season will happen. It sucks. Being stuck sucks.

  115. Cog in the Machine*

    We’re business as usual, but with only one person in the office at a time. Since I just switched locations and got voluntold to be the bitty-boss for a few months, I’ve been going into the office a lot. I haven’t been able to go to the other two offices in our team yet, and that’s frustrating.
    For most of us, WFH is OK for the short term but not long term. We have connectivity issues all the time, and home offices either don’t exist or are taken up by the existing computer and what not that people use for their personal business.

  116. Emily*

    I’m in back end banking and its crazy how busy we are. With everyone else being home they have the time to call us and ask about all the government programs, bank programs, or just plain worry at us. You have no idea how many people have called just to double check we are still FDIC insured. I’m pulling 12 hour days and weekends and still drowning in work. They want us to work from home since we are not customer facing but there is such a run on equipment right now it has not been possible yet. I am grateful my job has extended us all free lunches and some bonus pay, but I am also a little jealous of everyone I see complaining they are bored at home. I’d love to be bored right now!!

    1. Hopeful*

      I also work in the back office of a credit union and it’s incredibly busy right now. We’re in the main office, but departments (including mine) have been split up and spread out between working from home and working at other locations. The two other people I work really closely with deal with documents, so we are still in the main office, but we are insanely busy as well because we have to send out documents to those in other locations and do tasks that typically wouldn’t be our responsibility. I only started at the job about a month ago and I was only there for about 2 weeks before everyone was split up, so it’s been an enormous learning curve.

      It’s a weird feeling because I was unemployed for about 4 months before I got this job, so basically my life started going back to somewhat normal (in terms of having a routine and a regular schedule) when everyone else’s lives got turned upside down. (I am still incredibly grateful to have a job and not taking it for granted at all.) I am still self-isolating when not at work and only going out for the essentials.

  117. Mama Bear*

    Something that came up on a community listerv – don’t assume you know where people are going and shame them. I have been deemed essential and am going to work and for various reasons I cannot pivot to WFH. Some days I am wearing a fleece and jeans, because we have no visitors right now and I can get away with it. Just because I’m not in scrubs doesn’t mean I don’t have a job at the end of the drive. There’s lots of reasons people are legitimately out and about. Be kind.

    1. Red Stapler*

      Also, most people are not commuting in scrubs! I wear scrubs in the lab, and I commute to work in athleisure and change at work.

    2. LQ*

      Yes, I still wear the same business wear I have always worn and the attitude when I’m walking to and from work is getting weirder by the day. You are outside too! Why are you sneering and sometimes harrassing me?

  118. TurtleIScream*

    I work in a grocery store. I can take precautions, and feel generally safe, because I have access to masks, sanitizer, and hand-washing facilities. But, I am exposed constantly to people shopping in groups, and I am not allowed to say anything to the offenders. Online discussions are full of “sorry, not sorry” people who tell me to just stay home if I am bothered by them flouting the guidelines. People who shop in groups, even if they maintain 6ft distance, talk to each other more, and studies have shown that speaking (or yelling down the aisle) spread droplets farther and more concentrated. So, just STOP! Disclaimer: I am not talking to single parents of young kids, but that’s not who I’ve seen out and about anyway. It’s the husband who doesn’t trust his wife’s impulse shopping, or the wife who doesn’t trust her husband’s judgement. Suck it up and deal.

    My mental health is shot. I don’t trust anyone. I am always on guard. My asthma treatments don’t work as effectively because I’m also on the edge of panic attacks, but medical access is limited.

    1. J.B.*

      I’m sorry. You should definitely be making more than you do, and I don’t get why people go in groups. SO completely unnecessary.

  119. CatLadyInTraining*

    I am an admin at a car dealership (a big one, not a small used one). Originally our showroom was open, but we had to limit the number of customers who were in the showroom at one time and we would only have 3 salespeople working each day. Now we’ve had to close our showroom and were just doing online and curbside sales. Our service and parts departments are still open (with shorter hours and closed on weekends), because obviously people still need to get their cars fixed. We had a nurse in here getting her car fixed yesterday. Our collision center is open as well, though with shorter hours. I am still working part time. We are practicing social distancing and sanitizing everything thoroughly.

  120. letmeoffthistrain*

    I hate this. I am considered essential, but we could work from home if we had the equipment. We just don’t have it (yet?)

    I feel useless because we are so incredibly swamped, but I cannot help most people who call because I work in an adjacent area than the main area. They are having trouble getting through to the main area and end up with us while trying different extensions.

    As more time goes on, people are getting more and more upset, and I don’t blame them, but there’s nothing I can do.

    The worst part is that I used to work in the main area, so I could answer questions if I was allowed to (and had access to a program given back to me).

    I go home exhausted and depressed.

  121. VALCSW*

    I work in healthcare & everyone at work is so stressed. There’s anger about needing to be here, & lots of fear. What doesn’t help is the concern that our leaders aren’t being as transparent as they could be. They’re working from home while front-line staff have to come to work. Though logically, we need as many people as possible to SIP, I think the optics of it just look bad. It’s created some bitterness & a lot of mistrust, so much so that I am concerned that professional relationships may never recover. I hope I’m wrong.

    And let me say THANK YOU to other essential workers outside of healthcare. You’re truly putting yourselves at high risk without enough remuneration, & dealing with angry, fearful customers to boot. Thank you & everyone, please stay safe & well.

  122. bananaboat*

    Teaching Assistant for Kids with special Needs here!
    Schools are still in for the kids of key workers (inc other teacherS) and for some vulnerable kids. My SEN kids are very shaken by whats going on and are often melting down. It’s impossible to keep social distancing with them they’ll grab onto you for comfort. It’s breaking my heart to be honest

  123. I'm About to Run Out of Tea*

    I work at a public library, so we aren’t essential in the way food and healthcare and law enforcement are essential, but because of state and local politics, if we don’t work, we don’t get paid or we have to use leave. We are closed to the public and can maintain social distancing between co-workers, but I think it’s wearing on all of us to hear “everyone” talk about the challenges of staying at home when we’re still slogging into the office day after day. My job hasn’t changed significantly, but the customer service staff are now spending days with mind-numbing tasks like dusting the tops of bookcases that haven’t been cleaned in 20 years. Sometimes, it feels like everyone is on a holiday while we are stuck working. I know that’s not true and I’m grateful for a steady paycheck, but emotionally, it’s hard to come to work some days.

    There is also the challenge of patrons who e-mail me saying “another library is doing X” but I know that our situation is different, even if that difference is that I can’t get staff buy-in for X and I don’t think it would be good leadership to force them to do something they feel is unsafe. Being respectful of staff who have different views of what is safe than I do, from the person who keeps eating hand-food without washing their hands to the person who thinks touching a returned book carries as much risk as going to the grocery store, is also challenging when I’m trying to treat them like adults, but still create a safe workplace and fulfill our obligations to the public.

    1. Lovecraft Beauty*

      I’m so grateful for my public library, whose ebook collection has been saving my sanity.

    2. Library Lady*

      – “There is also the challenge of patrons who e-mail me saying “another library is doing X” but I know that our situation is different, even if that difference is that I can’t get staff buy-in for X and I don’t think it would be good leadership to force them to do something they feel is unsafe.”

      This^ We are getting this not only from patrons but county administration. Yes I would love to try new and creative ways to serve our patrons, but we don’t serve them well by putting them in danger, as well as the staff. We are trying to be as creative as possible in moving programs and resources online, which I know doesn’t reach everyone, but is still something.

  124. NDawn90*

    Healthcare worker here. I am a Medical Assistant at a Pediatric office.

    Things have been… chaotic.

    Our schedules have changed so much, and now we’re at the point where we are going to start working in teams and rotating days (3-4 days on, 1 week off) so if one member of the team gets sick, we won’t have to quarantine the entire office.

    My fiance is a HVAC technician, so he is also still working outside of the home. It’s just the two of us, so right now things don’t feel very different, except for the fact that things are very different. We have been taking time, especially on the weekends, to check in with one another and just be together, and that has been helpful.

    Otherwise, I’m pretty sure that next week (which will be the first time in all of this that I’ve had more than 2 days off in a row) is when this will all hit me emotionally. I’m the kind of person who is freakishly calm in a crisis (not intentionally, my brain just goes into “work mode” and I can’t help it), but I always pay for it later when the crisis is over. I’m already starting to feel it a little.

    The one thing that is definitely going to make me lose my s*!& is when people say this is all a hoax or dismiss rules and protocols. Aka, my fiance’s family. His brother recently came back from an international trip and had a layover in JFK, and he refuses to self-quarantine even for 2 weeks. He said that “someone” told him that he would develop symptoms within 48 hours if he was sick, which as a healthcare worker and someone with a basic understanding of virology I know for a fact is not true. So he’s exposed pretty much everyone in my fiance’s family, including my fiance, a man who has asthma and was a smoker for 15+ years before quitting a few years ago. His dad posted this ridiculous YouTube video by a flat-earther channel, then got all pissy when I told him it was debunked.

    I told my fiance that I can’t deal with them anymore right now. I am wearing PPE my entire shift that chafes my face, hurts my ears, and gives me a headache. I’m doing laundry daily to make sure we both have clean clothes to wear after being exposed all day. I’m wiping down light switches and doorknobs in our entire house daily. I’m mentally and emotionally drained from trying to keep both of us safe, and his family thinks that if they ignore it or call it a hoax, then it isn’t real. And I can’t deal with that. So, I put up a wall of communication – I don’t want to hear about them right now.

    I’ve stocked up on craft supplies and I’ve finished our home gym, so once I am home for a week at a time, I should be entertained. Right now, though, I feel like I could sleep for a week straight.

    1. Blueberry*

      I am so sorry that atop all else you have to deal with denialists. I hope you and your fiancé get through this unscathed and that his denialist family members catch a clue.

    2. Wrench Turner*

      Fellow HVAC & asthma person here. You have my sympathies and appreciation. It’s wild how much science-denial there is in our trade, which is based on specific physical sciences. I’ve got some coworkers that can quote science for how the machines work but for other stuff there’s that one guy on youtube who says…
      I also want to sleep for a week straight. My first day off was today, alarm turned off, but still woke up promptly on time.

    3. NicoleK*

      I’m sorry that you’re going through this. It is frustrating to have extended family members who don’t take this seriously. My MIL lives with us. She’s in her early 70’s. While she’s not a denialist, she definitely minimizes COVID-19. If I said, “more people are wearing masks”. She’ll counter with, “alot people aren’t”. She’ll watch the news (probably Fox) and comments, “where are all the sick people? There’s no lines at the hospital”. She gets on my nerves occasionally and I can’t escape it. Good for you for ignoring your fiance’s family and take care of yourself.

  125. K*

    I work at a pet store, technically considered essential because people need dog food, but it’s a small boutique store and I really don’t know if we should be open. I’m currently in a 14 day self-isolation because I had cold/flu symptoms, but Im starting to wonder if it’s worth it to ever go back. I’m lucky that my spouse has a decent income so we could get by for now. But with so many unemployed the idea of throwing away a job right now seems foolish. On the other hand, having daily panic attacks and risking my life for a part time minimum wage gig I planned to leave anyways feels stupid too. I know I’m privileged to even have the option to consider this, but it still feels like I’m stuck with nothing but bad options.

  126. irene*

    i just started my job in senior services/healthcare, so i’m going into the office. a lot of us are doing WFH or partial WFH if possible, but being brand new, it’s more helpful for me to be here in person while i figure out my job. maybe in a few weeks, when i’ve got my rhythms down and don’t need access to phyiscal files or archives as much, i can shift to partial WFH. (i’m in a support role for our caseworkers and health aide staff, so i’m also filling in when a physical body is needed, for example to shift since on any particular day about 75% are out of the office.)

    to be honest, i think i’ve kind of disassociated the whole thing. i hadn’t been working the first part of the year, and now i am working in an office, so it’s almost like my patterns have gone opposite of most people’s. i don’t go anywhere but the office, home, and places that are required for work, and every 2 weeks to the grocery store. we have masks and gloves here when doing public-facing things, but in our individual offices, we mainly try to keep distant and wash our hands/use sanitizer regularly. we often forget about the outside world, even though just about everything we’re doing at the moment is because of the pandemic (which i’m sure isn’t helping with the disassociation).

    a lot of this feels like the days before a hurricane. we’re in hurricane country with evacuations the last few years. you work and do what you have to do, but half of your mind (or more!) is on keeping safe and prepared and how to do grocery store runs, and a chunk of your coworkers aren’t in the office because they’re doing stormprep or in long meetings to make sure the business is prepared. it’s work as usual…except work isn’t usual.

    it helps a lot to take time to go outside during the day, and to remember that just like when a hurricane is getting close, we can’t be expected to be normal. it’s frustrating that i want to be able to stay home, sew masks, do the extensive cleaning regimens, but i just don’t have time. it’s also frustrating that my parents are only doing half measures, but since i’m not at home, i don’t have the bandwidth to cajole them or put together care packages with things they need.

    it’s really, really hard that i’m mostly back to being on a “normal” schedule, but i can’t do any of the things i normally do to keep my morale up. no visiting my sister and her kids, no going to my parents’ for dinner (or to borrow their recycling pick-up service), no biking to the local park to enjoy the woods. (the park was closed to discourage people from driving and having to stop at gas stations or for picnic foods, and from a worry about the lack of social distance space in the washrooms)

    1. Sleepless*

      I totally get your comparison to a hurricane! I live in an area that is notorious for completely shutting down when it snows, and at the beginning of this it felt like we were all getting ready for snow.

  127. Essential for now*

    I work as cashier at a tool store, now considered essential. There are a few things that I want people to know.
    1) We are open for essential purposes. We sell items used by plumbers, construction workers, and other infrastructure. We are not open for people to just look around.
    2) Right now, please be understanding if we don’t have everything in stock. We can’t tell when our next truck will come in and if a particular item will be on it. We will write people a rain check, and we have online shopping. Please don’t tell at the cashiers becuase we don’t have the llama comb 3000 available.
    3) We are trying our best to protect our customers. We wear gloves and masks. We sanitize all of our carts and baskets. We made makeshift counters to put distance in between us and the customers. All we ask is for the customers to practice social distancing. It’s incredibly frustrating to watch people read signs to stay 6 ft away, see marked lines on the floor and still choose to crowd against one another.
    4) Lastly, I know not everyone believes in the measures taken. I get to hear about how it’s all overreaction, I have heard plenty of conspiracy theories, and it is uncomfortable. Please don’t use cashiers as sounding boards. We have our own beliefs, and if we don’t agree with you, we can’t tell you.

  128. Residential School*

    I work at a residential school for boys with mental and emotional disabilities. It is not possible for our boys to be sent home for the duration of this, so it is not possible for our staff to be sent home as most of our work is hands on. I work in the office, so technically some, but not all, of my work could be done from home. There are three people in the office and one opted to work from home because of health issues. Our job is to support the campus as well as the worker who is home but needs contact with information and people on campus. As for how we’re making it work – mostly by having a sense of humor. We all wear masks when we’re out of our offices and the sillier the better. We carefully monitor all staff and students (temperatures daily, following CDC guidelines) and practice the 6′ rule. We have meetings over zoom and phone conferencing so that we can all stay in our offices. The rule here is you go to work, and go home and that’s all. It’s hard, and some times I really envy people who get to stay home, but for the most part, I’m glad I’m able to be here and do my part to keep our kids safe.

    1. bananaboat*

      hi person witha vaguely adjacent job to you (I work with boys with SEN needS) And just from one SEN worker to the other our kids may not understand exactly whats going on an may not be their usual selves but you keeping them safe and everyone is going to be keeping them ticking on as well as possible. It’s a hard job sometimes one that is really hard to leave at work and not take home.

      1. Residential School*

        It is hard to leave it at work – but it’s also really important to enforce boundaries (spoken like a true social worker.) Keep up the good fight!

  129. Admiral Thrawn is Still Blue*

    I’m still at work. I do have the option to work from home, but I have chosen to stay here. I’ve weighed all the risks and will start WFH if my risk assesment changes. At the moment we have 72 cases in my county. I work for an insurance carrier, so essential services. Most people here are at home now, so we are very spread out.

    I make mortgage changes but also back up reception. For three weeks I’ve been the only receptionist; the other two are not available, so I stepped in for the duration. Someone still has to let in the FEDEX, UPS and mail man, and answer phones. I’m coming up for my yearly review and raise discussion in August; I really need to get one, and am hoping that this will influence them heavily in my favor. I’m still building my rep here, and need all the good work karma I can get. I admit it was strange at first, but we are all used to it now.

    1. B*

      This is no dis to you, more a sad reality of our society…but it’s pretty messed up that risking exposure to a pandemic factors into yearly reviews. I’m sorry that you have to factor that into your decision making process.

    2. Admiral Thrawn is Still Blue*

      B, you are absolutely right, these shouldn’t be factors. but they are. Especially with the economy crashing so badly. Employers will have their pick of people soon. I need every advantage I can get. I’ve already been through my own economic and employment crisis last July.

  130. Archaeopteryx*

    Healthcare here; it’s been pretty disorienting. We’ve whipsawed between being inhumanly busy to the point where the thought of having to speak to one more human makes you cry (day after day for weeks on end) to having days with very little to do. We’re good on PPE and the possible Covid patients are being sent to a different location, so it’s not that scary. But there have been some heartbreaking issues with some patients to the point where yesterday I was furiously dabbing my eyes (to keep my mask dry) worrying about this one guy.

    Commute is rough though. They’ve made the buses free to protect drivers, but cut back on frequency, so the buses can be still crowded. And having fewer people on the street (and cutbacks to social services) means there’s a definite uptick in imbalanced or leery creepers. Even if you’re a couple blocks away, he can spot and follow you shouting because there’s no one else nearby. Probably not ~actually dangerous but definitely stressful at the end of a long day.

    On the bright side, patients are a lot nicer to us in general, and one even sent us a bunch of fancy pizzas! :)

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      (Enough people complained about creepers on the bus that our work tried to negotiate a one-month discounted parking rate with somewhere, but apparently all the parking garages in our area that aren’t closed down would rather stay empty than give a discount to some health workes so whomp whompp)

  131. Marie James*

    I’m struggling with the “Use this time to _____ while you are home,” and with the steady stream of scolding memes for people who are leaving the house for any reason. My job can’t close and I’m essential, and yes, I’m terrified every single day of catching it or (worse) bringing it home and getting my family sick. I’ve stayed off of FB to give my psyche a break.

    1. Blueberry*

      Staying off FB is a very good idea. I’m hoping for the best for you, that you make it through this unscathed.

  132. Ciela*

    Husband and I are still working at work.

    Traffic is almost gone entirely. Ride home takes half the time it normally does.

    Work is in split shifts, 6 am – noon, and then 12:30 pm – 6:30 pm. We’re losing bunch of hours that way, but if someone does get it, the whole company ought not get sick.
    With so few people, it is easy to have the ability to stay 6 ft apart, but I do still have to remind one particular person about that almost every day.
    Showroom is closed to customers, no exceptions.
    We have enough rubbing alcohol and Lysol, so if we’re not sure who touched something last, we can disinfect it.
    Lots of co-workers used to go out 2+ times a day for fast food, not anymore. Someone might eat a granola bar, but that’s it as far as eating at work.

    We’ve had about a 90% drop in new orders, so we’ve switched to mostly making PPE (plastic face guards) and donating them to local hospitals.
    Boss has applied for one of the SBA loans, so hopefully that gets approved sooner rather than later.

    I’m actually surprised that I can still manage to leave the house during all this. I’ve struggled with agoraphobia for as long as I can remember, and I was worried that there would come a day where I would no longer be able to bring myself to leave the house. But maybe that day won’t come? Maybe my stress level has just been at such a high baseline for so long that this isn’t enough to push me over the edge?

    I want to be able to touch things again. I want to have my husband be able to leave the house without be freaking out that he’s going to get sick again and end up back in the ICU.

    Everyone be safe, wear a mask, wash your hands.

  133. Tired*

    I’m a secretary at a construction company. We’ve remained open the entire time. Last week, I convinced management to let me work from home half the week but it was a struggle. My boss, who is the CEO, routinely comes to my desk (or calls me when I’m WFH) to demand that I put in orders for surgical masks, gloves, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, and lysol wipes and then gets condescending, angry, and sometimes downright verbally abusive when I explain that I cannot find these items in stock anywhere. His favorite argument is “I don’t think you understand that our company needs to provide protective gear to stay open, if you can’t learn how to order it then we can’t stay open and no one will get a paycheck.” Super great having 30+ people’s livelihood thrust on me, the lowest-ranking and lowest-paid employee, because stores are out of stock. No one in the office is sticking up for me, either. They all call my extension (or cell phone) at least once a day, each, asking for PPE/disinfectant and then get very angry with me when I say we don’t have any and that I can’t order it because no stores have it in stock.

    Earlier in the week, I found one store that said it had disinfectant wipes in stock for in-store purchase only, so I drove far out of my way to the store only to find that the website was wrong and they were out. I had to intensely meditate in my car for at least 10 minutes to keep from crying because I knew I was going to get yelled at again.

    And now the CEO is demanding that I register everyone in the company for a coronavirus test even though the city is limiting them to people who are in medical quarantine or who have symptoms. He’s going to yell at me again when I tell him I can’t do that. I am so numb at this point. I have no emotional energy to spend anymore.

    1. Spcepickle*

      So many hugs to you. I run a state construction office and I feel your pain. We are demanding so much from our contractors in terms of health and safety and things are changing so fast, it is impossible to keep up. Also your boss is a jerk and i wish I could kick him for you.

    2. Robin Ellacott*

      Good lord! I’m sorry you are apparently surrounded by idiots. Who hasn’t heard about shortages by now??

    3. Red Stapler*

      WHAT is wrong with people?! I’m so sorry. Your CEO sounds terrible and needs a swift kick. Not much else to say but I’m sorry and I’m sorry people are pushing their crap onto you. (I would have just cried in the car after that disinfectant wipes story, tbh.)

    4. Emily Elizabeth*

      I am so sorry for everything you’re going through and the lack of support you have. I know this is the most “easier said than done” things ever, but try to remember how much their reactions are about them and their ignorance and not about any actual failure on your part. You’re doing the best you can and their inability to see that doesn’t in any way reflect on the job you’re doing.

    5. Rob aka Mediancat*

      Apparently your job description included “Must be able to pull things out of thin air when needed.” Good grief. It takes weeks to get POLLEN MASKS through Amazon. My sympathies on your unrealistic colleagues.

  134. Thanks for letting me vent*

    I work for the state government in a prison (mental health field). The prison is of course an ‘essential business’ for public safety but in my department (and many others) we were not considered essential employees of the prison until a memo about a week ago came out, reclassifying all employees as essential. This means that even if we could find a way to make it feasible for us to telework (something my department EASILY did before we were told this) we are no longer allowed.

    They are taking some precautions (all of them a few days to a week behind the curve) but it has been SO frustrating and miserable to continue to come in to a trapped population that has so many more underlying health conditions than the community population and know that one of US (staff) is going to be the disease vector that brings the virus in and ends up killing a bunch of our guys. Plus my prison is a dorm, so it will spread, and fast.

    It is infuriating everyday to know that the people in charge of these life and death decisions are not the people who actually work in these prisons or with these guys, and are making their decisions on money or fear of lawsuits or god-knows-what instead of the very simple reality that we are in charge of protecting these people and and we are failing because our leadership can’t wrap their heads around the concept of telework or just sending the people who now have no work to do home without any work (but still pay, our budget is still good for this year) because that’s the safest thing to do. I’m trying not to take it personally, but it feels like a betrayal- of our staff and our offenders.

    On a personal note, it has also been terrifying to have to go to work with other staff who aren’t taking the virus seriously in their own lives and could be spreading it to me. Both of my parents are extremely immuno-compromised- my dad already has terminal brain cancer. I used to work 4 10 hour days to spend one day a week with him, now I don’t know when I’ll be able to see him in person again since I can’t quarantine myself for 2 weeks, which has been devastating. My partner is working from home, and I’m so worried I’ll give it him- all of his family live in another country, another large worry. I had to have my own mental health meds adjusted because I felt like I was drowning in my anger, and the new ones have helped, thank goodness.

    Now it’s just one anxious day at a time, facetiming my parents and hoping against hope they stay well until I can see them in person again

    1. Flustered*

      Sounds like we’re in a similar situation. I’m sorry to hear that your facility also isn’t taking this as seriously as they should. I’m also in healthcare and can do my job remotely, but my employer is still making us come in. Many patients are immune-compromised and are at high risk in the event an asymptomatic or presymptomatic employee spreads the virus. We’ve tried explaining to them that even the office employees who don’t work directly with the patients could transmit the virus. There are so many opportunities – doorknobs, passing patients in cramped hallways, elevators, the communal coffee maker handles, or via interactions with direct care staff, etc. In addition to insisting that we are essential employees so therefore we can’t telework, they are also saying it is an inconvenience to acquire the laptops. Aren’t the lives of our patients worth more than the $200 they could spend on a Chromebook? Aren’t the lives of their employees worth more than that? It’s infuriating and is saddening. I just want them to wake up and realize how reckless this is.

      I likewise am sorry to hear about your dad. Anyone who has an immune-compromised family member should be accommodated as much as possible. I think rather than having blanket policies that everyone needs to come in, facilities need to take more of a case-by-case approach. You are absolutely deserving of the opportunity to self-quarantine so you can safely spend time with him.

      I am about to ask my psychiatrist for a med increase. I feel like I am on the verge of exploding (or imploding). I am trying to ramp up self-care as much as possible, but with all the other things on my plate it’s been hard.

    2. On a pale mouse*

      I don’t understand this concept (and you’re not the only one who’s said it) that “essential” means “cannot work from home.” “Essential” should mean “is authorized to go to work if work can’t be done at home.” Any other interpretation is ridiculous and I’m sorry your employer and others are handling it this way.

      To be honest, I suspect that some of what’s happening at high levels is that being kind to incarcerated people is not a good political strategy for some politicians, depending on who they think their voting base is. I have ethical issues with that in all circumstances, plus there’s a lot of evidence that harsh treatment doesn’t benefit society as a whole long term — but it’s totally illogical in the current situation. If inmates get sick, staff are going to get sick too, and then what happens? Correctional workers don’t get enough credit for doing a hard job for not enough pay (I don’t think you could pay me enough to do it) and with not enough resources even in normal times. I hope things get better for you soon.

  135. Pharmacy Anon*

    It’s been a weird time to start a job in a pharmacy!

    Stress levels amongst the customers are very high. Everyone has been panic-ordering their medication in advance due to the lockdown, the fear of shortages and the upcoming Easter weekend. There’s 6+ staff working full-time in the dispensary and still can’t get through the backlog, and it takes longer to find the customer’s script because there’s literally about twice as many as normal. Queues are out the door, round the corner and down the road several hundred metres. It took one customer almost an hour and a half to get into the shop on a day last week.

    We’re helping some of the most vulnerable people in society, so people who are more likely to have babies or kids with them, or to be elderly (ignoring all the lockdown guidance!), or to have complex medical needs or difficulty understanding. People generally have higher stress and anxiety anyway, so they are having more difficulty following instructions or remembering information. People are getting cross.

    Other people are very grateful, underneath all the fear, and we’ve had chocolates and alcohol and all sorts of gifts. I feel safe and protected at work, as much as I can do, and just wish the elderly customers would stay home like we’re asking them to. There is a fantastic local voluntary group delivering medicine to anyone who needs it; we are telling all our customers about it. I just want them to stay safe.

  136. LabRat*

    Research animal care in academia here. While new research is disallowed, there are still lots of animals here who need regular care.

    My frustration is that we’ve drastically decreased our non-rodent population, but our department is still requiring all the staff who would care for those animals to come in daily. The building is attached to a medical center, it’s an open office plan, and the desks are ~4 feet apart.

    My own job has been particularly pointless, and the stress and anxiety and guilt of going of potentially spreading COVID is excruciating. Fortunately my workplace made parking free, so I no longer have to take transit in, both reducing my exposure and commute time.

    I’m mostly frustrated because my department is framing their response as in reaction to people not coming in, rather than “how do we reduce the number of people who have to come in”. I’ve also had to do a lot of cross training, which means I’m around more people than I normally would be in a day.

    If I weren’t already looking for a job, their behavior definitely would have pushed me into it

  137. X. Trapnel*

    I’m a dairy farm worker, so life has gone on much the same.
    What’s (mildly) irksome is being unable to get off the farm on my days off – I’d usually go into the town for a coffee and a charity shop trawl with my friend and I can’t do that now. But it’s no biggie. The cows are good company lol.

    1. On a pale mouse*

      LOL. I, too, haven’t changed daily life much since I work at the grocery store and was already an introvert; I just don’t go out to eat as much now. While I’ve only spent a little time around cows, they seem nice enough, and that would put them ahead of some of the customers I deal with at work.

  138. Mel*

    I work in a healthcare lab that is not doing Covid testing yet but hopes to start next week. Typically we do drug testing.
    I’m the manager for the department that handles the physical paperwork for samples so someone has to come in. Last week we furloughed 3/4 of my team’s hours between people going 100% furlough and 50%. I’m still here full time though. Between the other furloughs and the people who can work from home there’s probably 7 people in my building right now and my remaining team can keep a big distance. I know I’m lucky to still have a job. I like that my 45 minute commute is 20 minutes now. I’m still so worried that I’ll catch it because I grabbed an envelope or something and bring it home. I feel super guilty because my husband (academic libararian) is working from home but also taking care of our pre-k daughter who’s out of school. When I get home I know he needs me to take over so he can get something done or just be by himself for 5 minutes but i’m just so tired from worry and anxiety. And yeah, the posts about how bored people are do drive me bonkers.

  139. Elwing*

    I’m a healthcare worker in a hospital so obviously I still need to come to work. The epidemic (luckily) hasn’t hit our area very hard yet. But that means we have entire wards emptied to receive COVID patients, and there are now 1 or 2 patients in every ward. We’re really concerned that other people who need care are avoiding the hospital right now, we’re hardly seeing patients with other emergencies but heart attacks and the like can’t have ceased all of a sudden.

    So because all non emergency care has been canceled I have almost nothing to do. It’s a new job to me so I really want to be useful ASAP but it’s simply not possible because there is no work to learn the ropes. We all have been taking paid days off because it’s no use to risk exposure at work when you’ve got nothing to do. And we’re all bracing ourselves for the wave that may still be coming. We just have no idea.

    1. Wordnerd*

      Almost nothing to do? I hear you. I am a lab technologist in a hospital. All routine lab work is cancelled (with a few exceptions). I know I should be grateful to have a job and PPE, but it is difficult to go in every day and have not enough work. Ive been working on documentation, we have been working ahead of our annual required reading. Yesterday my co-worker spent an hour creating a contest for the staff. I’m tempted to take holidays, but I don’t want them all used up when this is over, we are crazy busy and I need a vacation.

  140. My Brain Is Exploding*

    Clearly I won’t have time to answer every post here, although I want to. So I want to say to all of you: I hear you. I’m so sorry. I appreciate you. Thank you. Hang in there – do what you need to do for yourself. You are right. You are brave. You are my hero.

  141. Destroyer of Typos*

    I echo others – I feel like I’m missing out on a big shared experience and really wish I could be baking bread all day. Baking is my stress relief!

    I’m THE client bookkeeper for a small (<20) fiduciary. We act as financial guardian for at risk elders and disabled folks, among other things. I cut the checks for their rent and medical bills. I can’t print checks from home, really. Our mail still comes in by paper, and must be scanned to our staff for processing. We can’t deposit checks for clients from home.

    I am grateful that:
    -we’ve sent most staff home, and operate with just 4-5 of us actually in office.
    -our director is all on the “new all digital systems! Let’s go paperless!” bandwagon.
    -my commute is way short now (30 instead of 75 minutes)
    -director agreed to pay for my expensive downtown parking so I don’t have to take the bus
    -dressing down
    -more sleep!
    -time for walks between work and dinner
    – Incredibly grateful for basically guaranteed paychecks
    -we are newlyweds and have no kids, so sudden homeschool isn’t a factor for us and we don’t have recurring fights (yet?)

    But things that are hard:
    -my stress makes it hard to focus
    -new systems have to be created by me
    -I was already behind in work
    -staff aren’t used to digital and require help making PDFs and saving documents
    -staff pushing back on new systems because they don’t understand why I asked for oh, a file to be named a certain way
    -I still have to make dinner when I get home
    -stress eating. Pants don’t fit.
    -my stress relievers are baking desserts and sedentary hobbies
    -husband is also essential and not working from home, so neither of us got vast amounts of time
    -jealous of my friends who get time for new hobbies

    Coping is the name of the game.

    We got this!!

  142. jack*

    I don’t have much to say beyond that I’m tired – just all the time. We are not meant to deal with this constant level of stress for so long.

    1. TomorrowTheWorld*

      I hear you. My own work has the least responsibility and I work the fewest hours and I’m just so tired all the time.

  143. Platypus*

    I work part-time (as needed) in a bakery, where my SO works as head of production. Since my college classes only started out this week and we experienced panic-buying-related record orders (seriously, it’s bread. What are you doing with it, using it as replacement toilet paper?), so I’ve been working a lot.
    And while our jobs aren’t super dangerous – no direct customer contact – we still have contact with the drivers, deliveries, the occasional idiot ignoring signs and waltzing into production, some of our coworkers take the train and I’m starting to get irrationally sick of driving to work while every five minutes the radio goes “oh, we’re all staying at home, that’s so great, thank you for staying at home.” while I’m driving into the sunrise, will spend my day working and come home to the last rays of sun, while people around me do home remodeling and barbecue and so on.

    And that’s as a part-time baker. I can’t imagine how medical workers or caretakers must feel about the constant barrage of “oh, we’re all so nice for staying home”. I mean, staying home when you don’t really want to is hard, too, and at least we don’t have to worry about our jobs, but in my country it’s really weird right now.

  144. Luke*

    From my wife, who works for Wal-mart:

    “Please keep in mind that due to the robot shortage, some of the staff you will encounter here are actual flesh-and-blood humans, who can sometimes react unpredictably when mistreated. Please do not berate us for being out of toilet paper, etc., or demand that we go “check the back” for you. There is no “back”. There is a truck that brings more stuff nightly, which goes directly from the truck to the shelves. We were sold out of TP within an hour of opening this morning. I know that frustrates you. Please go take it out on someone who can tell you to ____ off without getting fired. Please do not walk up to us and cough in our face, or come up from behind and grab our shoulder.”

    1. Archaeopteryx*

      Oh my gosh the Back haha. I so remember “the back” from my retail days. There is no back.

      1. On a pale mouse*

        We have a back, and there is backstock there, but there is no toilet paper there, or hand sanitizer, or disinfectant, rubbing alcohol, gloves, masks, or thermometers, because if we had them, we already sold them. Yes, you can speak to the manager, but she does not have the magical power to produce hand sanitizer out of thin air, so I’m not sure why you want to waste her time.

  145. Chrissy*

    I am so grateful for this thread, I have been feeling so alone in trying to carry on with life as normal, both my husband and I are essential workers and it is terrifying to think that we could bring this home to our kids. I am also feeling so guilty because now 3 days a week I am asking my 13 year old to step up and take care of his 2 younger sisters for 12 hour days as both of us are working. I am reading all of these posts about everyone feeling the same way and feeling less alone. Thank you all.

    1. Blueberry*

      I am hoping for you that you and your family get through this as well as possible, and I’m very impressed with your son.

    2. drivesmenuts*

      I hear you! My 9 year old has had to have a lot more responsibility now that I work evening shift. She has to take care of our small farm and do evening chores. She also has to work with her dad on jobs when he needs to work in the afternoons while I am at work. He works as a logger/forester so there are times when our kid is out stacking firewood or helping dad on jobs. Luckily she is a good kid and doesn’t mind. I am so grateful I can rely on her!!

  146. MommyMD*

    Why does Covid make me think I can eat without calories? I am unreasonably famished after my shifts. Like never before. H1N1 didn’t trigger this appetite and we were swamped.

  147. noahwynn*

    I work for an airline, specifically airport ops. I’m doing admin stuff at home, but obviously I have to be at the airport for the majority of the work. Flights are empty, maybe 10% full at most. Airports are also empty and most restaurants are shut down. Where I work it is only a Caribou Coffee and a Subway open, and they have limited hours.

    We’re trying our best. The aircraft are crazy clean and fully wiped down with disinfectant spray between each flight and fogged nightly. The airport is cleaning all surfaces throughout the day. We’re cleaning all check-in kiosk touchscreens and surfaces every 30-45 minutes. We spend time at the gate before boarding rearranging passenger seats to try and spread everyone out as much as possible.

    For the most part passengers have been decent, but there have been some terrible ones. I’ve learned you can’t win on wearing a mask or not. If you’re wearing one people will roll their eyes and make statements that you’re overreacting. If you’re not wearing one people will complain that you should be, even though there is definitely not enough to go around. We can wear gloves if we want, but I don’t unless I’m cleaning because coming from the medical field previously as a paramedic I know they’re pretty much worthless unless you change them between each passenger or task. Just wash my hands often and use hand sanitizer in between.

    My employer has been awesome and supportive. They know it is a difficult time for everyone and communication has been excellent. We’re all worried, but we also know we’re all working as a team to get through it at the moment.

    The worst part for me is that I live alone. So I go to work or home and that’s it. I never get to see anyone besides my coworkers or passengers. I miss my friends and family, talking on the phone or even Facetime/Zoom isn’t the same. I had a neighbor yesterday who yelled across the parking lot asking why I wasn’t staying home and told me I shouldn’t be working. My house cleaner is obviously not working right now, so I added that on my plate as well. Shopping is a nightmare because all the stores are set up for one-way traffic and you can’t just quickly breeze through and grab what you need and leave. Plus I seem to always forget something and then have to try and backtrack to grab it. Thankfully Target isn’t this way yet, so that’s become my go-to for everything and I can be in and out in 15 minutes or so because of how organized they have the checkout now. Makes that once or twice a week shopping trip that much easier.

    I can’t complain too much though. I’m still employed and healthy. I live in Minnesota, and so far things are not too bad here. The airline I work for has only had one employee test positive, although they’ve also said there are other presumed cases that cannot be confirmed due to lack of testing. None have required hospitalization though. The hardest part is obviously the same thing the rest of the world is dealing with, just the emotionally draining aspect of everything changing and the uncertainty.

  148. ainnnymouse*

    I work at a large pizza chain. It feels to weird to go to work with hardly anybody on the streets. I feel guilty going to work like I’m breaking a law or something. I just wish they would provide us with more gloves and some masks. I work in the back and don’t deal with customers. The Subway next door to us has closed down. We are getting their business. It’s not too bad since I only work 4 hours a week. I can take on projects and other things. I don’t have the luxury in forgetting which day of the week it is.

  149. SuperBananaRama8*

    On one hand I feel like I should feel extremely grateful that I still have a job, but on the other hand I don’t feel as essential as my job would like me to be. I work at a healthcare organization but on the administrative side and my role rarely if ever interacts with people who need our services. My job was already mostly a “warm body” type position and with just about all other non-medical staff able to WFH or rotating days with 1-2 people in their teams, it just feels pointless and tiring to come in everyday to a mostly empty building, just so someone is there for the daily mail and packages.

    What really kicks me in the gut is the few meaningful things I was doing were reassigned to my WFH team mates, and if they need something from me in the office they’re bombarding me with e-mails because micromanging/boredom. My WFH teammates are annoyed that they’re stuck home with little to do but to catch up with online training and job relevant educational materials and I’d honestly would like to swap with them if I could.

    I apologize it’s a bit of a rant. I’m tired and feeling somehow burnout by my “essential” role that IMO could have been paired down to at least part-time duties.

    On the positive side after work social time with friends, using video or voice chat, has been pretty great. Most are WFH and it’s improved their morale so our group chats are less everyone venting work stress and more about lighthearted moments at home. It has really helped me get away from how I feel about work right now, and lets me decompress.

    1. Sam*

      Glad to hear I’m not the only whose WFH colleagues are driving them insane! Hang in there!

  150. Mail Carrier*

    I’m a mail carrier in Canada. Canada Post is saying all the right things and has put policies in place to allow us to social distance, but in my depot most people are only half-heartedly observing social distancing guidelines, and the supervisors are the worst at it. It’s frustrating.

    We’re busier than ever – we are processing as many parcels as we do in the weeks before Christmas. I don’t really mind because I’m grateful I still have a job.

    The thing that is really driving me up the wall is the public. I’ve reminded dozens of people to keep 2m away from me and the majority of them just roll their eyes. I deliver mail to a lot of apartment buildings, so I can’t really move away easily. It’s gotten to the point where if someone doesn’t give me space when I ask for it, I just leave the building. Mo mail for you!

    Please, please give your delivery people space! Don’t try to take things from our hands and don’t try to share elevators with us!

    1. Robin Ellacott*

      I’m in Canada – thanks so much for keeping our mail moving! Every connection is so important right now. I’m sorry people aren’t being mindful.

      1. On a pale mouse*

        Same, though I’m in US. Took me a minute the first time to realize why the postal carrier didn’t want us to sign for our package (it was postage for us to sell, so definitely an essential delivery, as a ton of people rely on us in various ways for getting their bills paid). Actually makes it nice since the other day everyone at the counter was busy and I was rushing by on the way to do something else and told her “yes, sign my name for that” and reminded her of my last name and she left the package on the counter and we could both move on, instead of her having to wait for someone to be free or me having to stop and sign on her handheld.

  151. Sam*

    I’m an essential government employee – we access classified systems and thus cannot work from home. We have structured the office so that 75% can work from home to do non-classified work, and 25% come in to do the classified portion. The 25% who come in are working 12 hour days (4 days/week) to ensure 24/7 coverage. My managers are continuously sending articles office-wide about the struggles of working at home and balancing childcare/etc. They also have mentioned several times that the people at home are sacrificing just as much as those coming in. I in no way want to take away from anyone’s struggle- but this messaging has been really harmful to the people who are risking their lives to come in and work. The in-office folks aren’t saying that they have it harder, but when we constantly hear messaging about how difficult it is to telework, it really wrecks morale. If it’s so difficult, let’s swap! (nobody has taken us up on this yet). Thanks for letting me rant! :)

    1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      This kind of thing really pisses me off on your behalf! How thoughtless and cluelessly obtuse of them! It’s the kind of -“our situation is harder than yours!”- type of divisiveness which is something I see alot of as a result of this, sadly. A crisis brings out the best and the worst in people. In my head, I imagine you and your teammates on site could send a link to this entire AAM thread to those who keep emailing articles to you! (Maybe do so anyway lol – like “let’s be supportive of each other”!) All the best to you.

  152. On a pale mouse*

    Grocery store employee. A lot of the things I want to say have already been covered, but here’s a couple I haven’t seen:
    1. Stop bringing extra people to the store! I know everyone’s bored but that doesn’t mean the grocery store is a nice place for a family excursion. I realize some people have childcare issues or other reasons to bring another person but I’ve seen multiple groups of 3+ adults/older teenagers. Only have the minimum number of people you need!
    2. Do you really need lottery tickets at this time? Even if you’re already there for groceries, don’t come stand in another line and expose more people.
    3. If it’s at all possible for you, maybe just shop once a week? We have a ton of regulars who come in daily and it’s not the time.
    4. If I have to help you at the self-checkout, please step back! Some things I have to do from the screen.

    1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      Thank you for your dedication, patience and courage!! Totally agree! My husband does the grocery shopping once a week, and stops at local delis in between times if absolutely necessary. He follows all precautions and also reminds other shoppers. (He doesn’t GAF lol) Not so much for their sake (“is that wrong?” Lol) but for the sake of the store employees. Stay well, sending you best wishes!

    2. On a pale mouse*

      5. And a new one from this evening: for the love of god stop trying to lean AROUND the plexiglass barrier to talk to me that’s what it’s there for people!

  153. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    My workplace went from 14 people to 4. I’m considered essential, the work has to be done at the workplace because we provide food and other services to students who cannot or will not go home. Most are understanding about reduced hours and limited choices but a few need constant handholding which we don’t have the time to provide. One co-worker comes in whenever they can, it depends on childcare, they have to tag team with their working spouse. The ones who are here cover almost all functions now because of the shortage. I go from work to home and stop for groceries or errands before or after work. It’s actually better than it was when this started because now we have clear protocols in place for everything according to the govt. medical office.
    I was uncertain about working but now I’m glad because I’m so tired at the end of the day, I don’t have time to worry about the What Ifs.

  154. Robin Ellacott*

    I work for a company that runs mental health programs and we’re considered essential. We moved as many team members as we could to working from home, and each person remaining was moved to their own office. Personally, I’m still in my usual office every weekday with no change to my actual routine except working longer hours as we transition our services to remote formats.

    While my ROUTINE is similar, my actual workday is entirely playing whack-a-mole with virus related issues and changes, so it’s crisis management mode all the time. I have lost all sense of the passage of time or how long ago anything happened. My worklife is both the same and wildly changed, and it’s somehow very unsettling. On the plus side, I have had no time to worry about it.

    Because I walk to work and have a very pleasant office with a great view (mountains, cherry blossom, a gold course, bald eagles – far better than I have from home), I’m actually happy to be continuing to come in and keep my work and home life separate. If I didn’t work I wouldn’t see other humans at all most days, because I live alone (happily, but total solitude doesn’t sound healthy). Also, I really don’t want to blur work/home lines – my job is generally quite heavy and currently very much so. There’s a lot of decision and change fatigue due to hastily reworking all the policies and processes. And to do this I need to stay updated with the news all day, so it’s a bit of an overload. I want home to feel like a haven.

    My usual relaxation stuff – walks on the shore, movies or theatre, going downtown to the seawall, dinners with friends, etc. are all out of bounds now so I am either at work or at home. As others have said grocery shopping is hard as I am stuck going at peak times or trying to rush it into a lunch break, but it is a slow process. I could order delivery but feel that should be left for those who really need it – I am healthy and fairly young. And I just heard they are about to close the local beach park, which was devastating news as there are many remote trails and I felt very safe, virus wise, going there alone and walking outside, which is something I miss in an apartment.

    I agree with those who said it’s odd and excluding feeling when the whole world is seemingly experiencing things very differently from you. Overall I know I am so lucky to have no interruption of my income or work, and not work somewhere where I feel at all unsafe, but everything feels so weird. And then there is the feeling that I have no business feeling bad about anything when I have a good income, a comfortable home, and my health. I’m rigidly isolating but that is only because I don’t want to be Typhoid Mary to others. So it feels both like a crisis and NOT like a crisis at the same time.

    What has worked for me:
    -embracing the boundary between work and home – I came back to the office last weekend to send an email rather than trying to do it from home, and I deliberately don’t follow the daily pandemic news updates and try not to think out work issues on the weekends. I consider Coronavirus a work thing not a home thing.
    -Doing something that feels like a treat every Friday night – ordering dinner from a local restaurant, watching a newly released movie, etc – because I am alone at home and can’t do ANY of my regular social activities or see my friends.
    -Really making home special – I have been getting flowers when I can, lighting tealights, keeping it tidy, drinking the good scotch, etc. Somehow coming home from work and being relaxed feels more significant right now.

    Thanks for this thread – it’s great to read about others sharing some of my experiences!

    1. J.B.*

      Some of the grocery stores bring it to your car. We have been ordering it that way as a general risk reduction thing – one fewer person shopping in the store, and I tip the person who brings out the groceries. They tend to be out of plenty of things so I will need to make another trip this weekend, but will wear a mask and do my best.

  155. Front Desk*

    I work for a financial broker-dealer, and if the stock market is open, we have to be open. Our office is on the first floor of a bank, inside the bank lobby. Meaning when I come in in the morning, I have to unlock the bank door, lock it behind me, turn off the alarm, then go into our locked office. The bank has completely closed their lobby to anyone who doesn’t have a face-to-face meeting with their staff, so if a client comes in, I have to get up, unlock the bank door, let the client in, and lock the bank door behind me. Same for letting them out.
    We have a lot less foot traffic than normal, which is nice. We’ve stopped all face-to-face meetings with clients unless absolutely necessary, and we pretty much just keep to ourselves.
    Our town is small, and we only have one confirmed COVID-19 case here. There are 5 in our county.
    We’re in Wyoming, and a lot of people here aren’t taking this seriously. I hear all sorts of crap from clients about how it’s all a government hoax, how we’re screwing them over with the stock market on purpose, blah blah blah.
    It’s hard to describe how it feels. This has become a ramble, but it’s just a confusing time.

  156. limoncello day*

    Just comiserating. Thanks for this thread : )

    I’m a receptionist for a construction company, so essential business.
    Part of my duties are to keep the building stocked with normal office supplies, like toilet paper, cleaning products, and hand sanitizer – which are pretty hard to come by. I placed an order for hand sanitizers in late March… that we expect sometime in May. We hope. It’s a three week window, so we’ll see. But when is it going to be looked at as “my fault” for not being able to find soap? Will the company shut down then, because they can’t guarantee a safe and clean working environment? Will I get fired for not being able to find these items?

    I wish the company could/would upgrade technologically to let me transfer calls from home, maybe with a computer program, but there are other things I need to be in the office for. Plus, my boyfriend WFH permanently, as his company is in another state, and he is in IT, on call pretty much 24/7, so we couldn’t share that much internet data as would be necessary.

    His hours are more flexible than mine, and he makes a great deal more than I do, but we still split everything evenly as a personal arrangement. If I needed to not work for a short while, we could rely on his income, but due to some other issues a few years ago, I am still paying off a small debt to him, so increasing that isn’t a comfortable solution for me, though it may very well be inevitable.

    Oh, non COVID related, but we may be breaking up. It’d be a 13 year relationship, this fall. When I try to talk about what his/our plans are when our lease is up in June, he doesn’t want to talk about it, so it’s tough to plan ahead. We’ve talked about going to a relationship counselor before deciding for sure to end it, but that doesn’t seem likely or like a good idea even if possible right now, to risk unnecessary exposure. He thinks he could talk our apt into letting us stay a few more months, since we make on-time payments always, but I’m not so sure they would extend that to us regardless. We’ll find out!

    Part of his hours being more flexible makes me wish he would take over grocery shopping; he can go during hours where there are little to no lines, whereas if I go after work it is a nightmare. I could conceivably skip lunch for a day – with permission, as my state is pretty strict about hourly employees – and take 2 hours to grocery shop during the day, but that means skipping lunch for two days. Only today did I finally get a cloth mask made by a coworker, so I guess we’ll give that a try when I go to the store after work today. Anyway, I don’t know if it’s fair to ask him to “split” the risk of exposure, or have one of us, arguably the one who makes way less money, take on all the risk alone. Of course, he would pitch in for my solo grocery trips, but I since I don’t normally pitch in on his (he doesn’t make a plan, and comes from a way bigger family so he’s used to having fully stocked everything, whereas I would plan each slice of bread before buying it before we moved in together), this also doesn’t seem a fair ask.

    Like many others on this thread, I find it frustrating to hear others complain about WFH, or it being boring, or – in my company’s case, certain people refusing to use the services the company has set up to facilitate WFH, like zoom phone numbers instead of their cell. Yeah, they just refuse to do it. Let alone the nightmare it was to get those systems set up in the first place, now you just refuse to take phone calls? AND have spotty internet service?
    Like WFH-ers, I would also like to trade my commute time for some self care, social media time, or cooking challenges. I realize this isn’t everyone’s reality, but it’s such an overwhelming topic you see right now, it is pretty tough not to feel left out, and penalized for my place in my career right now. Like, if I made more, if I was worth more, I’d be able to WFH. Why don’t I make more/am worth more? Cue the anxiety and depression.

    Part of our normal business is walk-in sales; well, all the salespeople are WFH, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to come by. And even though the door is locked, I am unclear on how to turn these people away – or if I should. My company is treating everything on a case-by-case basis, but for the most part I think they are genuinely doing everything possible to keep the majority safe. It just feels awful to have such a replaceable role, but be required to come in. Yesterday, I had a man come to the front door with a check to pay. Well how do you sanitize a check? What do you wipe down when they leave? At what point have you done enough to clean?

    And like others have said, I have been feeling more and more drained by everything. I don’t want to do ANYTHING when I get home, not even take a walk, even with the weather finally getting nicer. I just want to sit and not think. I’ve been doing laundry, but the clean laundry lives in the basket. Even putting it away feels emotionally draining. I definitely feel depression and anxiety – things I’ve dealt with in the past – creeping up closer. I have a good handle on my triggers, and even though my boyfriend and I have virtually no friends/family in this side of the country, I have a great family that I believe could help me financially before I’d have to lean on my bf, so that is a huge weight off.

    Ok, this ended up WAY longer than intended. I actually started writing a diary again this morning, to celebrate some small good occurrences – a coworker brought me homemade limoncello and refused any compensation; then another coworker brought in the handmade cloth masks, so I now have four to split with my partner. The weather is nice; I can change out of heavy layers and have more choices in my closet again. Oh, before everything went NUTS, a coworker and I split a box of TP from the source I use to stock our company; I now am sitting on like 40 freaking rolls of TP at home : D My apt has a communication service between residents, so if anyone gets desperate, I plan on donating some TP.

    Thanks again for this thread; my fellow essentials, my heart goes out to you. I’ll keep helping build hospitals; you guys keep helping the sick people who need them. One day at a time, we’ll get through it together. <3

    1. Robin Ellacott*

      Sorry for all the stress… especially being stuck in an uncomfortable relationship situation at the worst possible time. I had a 14-year relationship end and even if the fact that it’s ending is ok it is a huge upheaval, and all the decisions were hard. If you’re wanting to try something now, telecounselling is a growing industry and lots of counsellors with a private practice (at least the ones I deal with at work) have time now because in person appointments are cancelled. I’m not sure if you’d want to bring all your relationship stuff to the surface right now, but if you need support it might be out there. Take care!

      1. limoncello day*

        Thanks! We’ve actually got a pretty good relationship, all things considered. Not that I know how it would/will look in the future, but there’s no animosity or fear at present, on either side. But you’re right, it’s another huge unknown, so definitely stressful. I know in THAT regard, everything will eventually work out ok.
        We will look into the telecounselling idea; can’t hurt! Having stuff brought to the surface in a supportive environment would probably be in both of our best interests.
        Thanks again – wishing you and yours the best : )

      1. limoncello day*

        Thanks! that’s so thoughtful : )
        I am super excited to try my coworkers’ version.. me made me promise, hand in the air, to only drink it ice cold. So it’s just sitting there, looking at me all room temperature. Do you make cocktails or drink yours straight? I know it’s an after-dinner drink, but I haven’t looked anything up yet.

        1. Blueberry*

          You have a great written voice. :) I love all things lemon, so I drink it chilled from a shotglass, put it in lemonade, sprinkle lemon cake with it, and so on. To be precise mine is citroncello made from a Buddha’s Hand Citron my sweetie gave me back in February, which is part of why I had enough zest to make so much limoncello.

          1. limoncello day*

            Thank you so much! I am trying to get back into writing, privately for now. I think I’m a better editor than writer. My voice/energy in person comes across like a weird cat – which, fine. Others can only wish they were as emotionally nimble.

            And I am excited to report, that the limoncello was pretty great! Very well balanced, not too sweet. Definitely strong, haha! And my boyfriend seemed to love it as well.. asked for more of my “lemon drink” – and he’s Italian!
            Oh wow, that citroncello sounds good, with Buddha’s Hand. My first google result for citroncello was Buddhacello : ) I’ve made a couple of simple syrups, I bet I could make this as well!

    2. Princess Zelda*

      Part of our normal business is walk-in sales; well, all the salespeople are WFH, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to come by. And even though the door is locked, I am unclear on how to turn these people away – or if I should. My company is treating everything on a case-by-case basis, but for the most part I think they are genuinely doing everything possible to keep the majority safe. It just feels awful to have such a replaceable role, but be required to come in. Yesterday, I had a man come to the front door with a check to pay. Well how do you sanitize a check? What do you wipe down when they leave? At what point have you done enough to clean?

      If you don’t mind, do you have signage on the door? Does it address the situation and have clear instructions for the common situations people would be coming to your office for?
      For example, it could say “We’re sorry; Wakeen’s Teapot Emporium Sales Office is currently closed to visitors. If you need to speak to a sales representative, please call (555) 555-5555 to make an appointment. If you need to pay an outstanding balance, please pay online at Teapots Dot Com or mail a check to 123 North St, Townsville, Alaska 88888.”

      I hope everything turns out well for you — it all sounds very stressful and sucky. (Jedi hugs)

      1. limoncello day*

        Short answer : I am very much stuck between doing what I think is safest for myself, and what my company will allow. I am not at this time allowed to make a sign that expresses the front office door is officially closed/locked.

        Longer answer :
        We’re not officially closed to the public. (we are still doing walk-in sales! but that’s another vent) For one, my GM is very laissez faire in his management approach; overall, this works for the most of the people here. For another, my company has a very “make it work” mentality, and asking someone to mail in their check would have been seen as too rigid of me, and anti- (my company’s view of) customer service. We don’t do online payments (side note: I have to juggle taking payment over the phone while being the only person answering phones). We have a form that salespeople can send out or fill out themselves with customer payment info, but overwhelmingly, no one uses it. Mass attempts to “get” salespeople to use it would either be ignored, also seen as too rigid and/or ignorant of the culture. It would push people away, when I’m still new and earning social/political capital.

        I did make a sign for the door, when we started locking it – mostly so people wouldn’t crash through it like normal. However, my sign was replaced by two others; one is a general guideline poster that we are placing around various jobsites (wash your hands, keep 6′ apart, etc). The other is the same as in our will-call area (where you pick up your order), and it asks that visitors stay in the will-call area. Well having THAT sign on the front office door makes it sound like the front-office IS the will-call area, especially since a lot of customers normally come to the front office to get connected with a salesperson. And of course.. there are parts of the population that don’t believe COVID is even a real threat, and disagreeing with them about safety concerns without my bosses’ express say-so (which they won’t give) could (probably would) be seen as ostracizing those customers. I cannot emphasize enough the premium, at a lot of costs, my company places on customer interaction – that’s not to say we have the most welcoming sales team, which leaves me picking up the pieces to keep customers happy a good bit of the time.
        (another side note: This literally just happened. The guy who part-owns our building sent someone to get some keys made. I CAN’T turn this person away. The person who came up to handle the keys did it wrong the first time, because he didn’t listen to the customer. However, I kept the customer cool, and they were very pleasant, and I used this as an opportunity to keep up on my professional small-talk.)

    3. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      Hi :) I’m an Admin at a local construction company (in a borough of NYC), 4 days/week. In solidarity with you! You wrote eloquently, btw. I can totally relate. (Regarding your relationship, not to step on boundaries, you might be interested in a recent post on Captain Awkward.) We’re here for each other and I wish you all the best!

      1. limoncello day*

        Hello fellow industry person! : )
        And thanks! These compliments on my writing are making my day – I am super rusty, but starting to write again, privately for now.
        I will def check out Captain Awkward – I see it mentioned here a lot, but haven’t actually looked into it.

        All the best to you and yours!

    4. Lahey*

      If you’re living together, then if you get sick going to the grocery store, he’s likely to catch it from you anyway. Having him shop at less busy time could low risk the of exposure for both of you. I really hope you can delegate some task to him rather than drive yourself to exhaustion.

      1. limoncello day*

        Ugh I know.. you are preaching to the choir. However, I think I am getting through to him a bit, and he did go grocery shopping this morning! (said he went overboard after being inspired by recently watched movie Uncorked.. so I have no idea what level of fancy I am coming home to) I love your wording about how when he goes when it’s less busy, it means less exposure for both of us. THAT would really work on him, haha; he is ALL about limiting exposure right now – which is great! he just can be a little comically fanatic, for someone who doesn’t go out much and is permanently healthy.

        As for delegating chores/tasks, this is actually a thing between us already. We’re just super different when it comes to home maintenance. I would prefer to have the expectations for both sides written somewhere (maybe not a chore wheel, per se, but something), while he thinks that is extra work that shouldn’t be necessary. I can see his point, but don’t understand why he can’t try the suggestion out or meet me halfway with his own. Watch out for that spot of TMI I just spilled ; )

  157. Kat M2*

    I like being essential. I do not have the personality that lends itself to staying in all the time and I like that I feel I’m helping in some way (I work in a direct service NGO). The downside is that I’m tired all the time. And I actually am becoming less social because I can’t stand having to do yet another remote gathering when I get home. My home is the space to put on my PJs, have a glass of wine, and relax. If I am logging into a virtual hangout, I still feel I have to be “on”. Funny enough, I just wouldn’t feel that way going to a bar or a coffeeshop right after work.

  158. cwhf*

    Pediatric infectious disease physician (and also infection prevention medical director) at a large academic hospital. Never been so popular in my life and I hope I never am this popular ever again. It’s been hard; we are putting in 90+ hour weeks for going on 6 weeks with no days off to be ready and we won’t peak here for another 3-4 weeks likely. I go to work and I go home. I feel even worse for my husband who is trapped at home, suffering with depression that is generally greatly relieved by going to hang out with his friends and he can’t do that so that is hard on both of us. Yay for psychiatry telehealth visits. I am just struggling to get through each day but compared to many I’m really lucky and I recognize that.

    Folks are always asking what they can do; honestly all I want folks to do is stay home and be safe so we can decrease cases as soon as possible and have the resources to care safely for the patients that truly need the care. Answering texts, messages, emails is just beyond my capacity right now so I hope folks understand; I had one friend chastise me for not getting back to her and I just cried; my emotional reserve is just nothing right now. I can usually just get home, shove food (a lot of food) in my face and then veg on the couch between the continuous pages and phone calls. But it will all be worth it when we are ready and are HCWs are safe and our patients recovering. But it’s not easy. And I am so tired.

    1. Blueberry*

      I am so sorry your friend wasn’t understanding. Just from your job description I wouldn’t expect to hear from you on anything right now. I send you and your husband all strength and good hopes.

    2. RedinSC*

      I so know this feeling. I am maxed out. I have people reaching out to me and it just ONE MORE THING, and I can’t. I literally cannot face one more thing that needs my attention or focus.

  159. J Kate*

    I work in home care for the elderly and individuals with disabilities. This is very needed right now (being cared for at home rather than a facility setting reduces their risk) and fortunately because of the isolated home environment is relatively low risk as far as jobs go. But it’s still not working from home, and because I’m in management I still have to interact quite a bit with the public. I’m not scared but we do have all kinds of new precautions in place for the safety of our employees and our clients. We have a great team and we all support each other to cope with the stress.

  160. Lentils*

    My company is private security and I’m on the billing/invoicing team – there’s no real reason we *couldn’t* WFH except that our CEO isn’t taking this seriously at all and only cares about money (he works in California and my office is in Seattle, for context). A few people on our team have gotten WFH permission because they or family members are high-risk, and a couple of people took unpaid LOA, but most of us are still here. The office is a bizarre mix of people who seem to think this is all a big joke and people who are actually taking it seriously (upper management mostly falls into the former category). As I was typing this, I got an office-wide chat invite to a “root beer float social” they’re having in the office kitchenette downstairs. Those of us who are taking it seriously are stressed, livid at having to be here, and pretty transparent about our plans to leave ASAP. (I had a cathartic angry-chat with one of the lowest-tier managers this morning, she is just as done with this place as I am.)

    I send invoices to three huge retail clients, all of whom have closed and 2/3 of which can’t be billed anymore. The third client has sent all of its retail employees home with pay AND is still paying us for standard guard hours, which means I have some work to do, but no one is sure how it’ll be moving forward. I had been behind since I stayed home without pay for a week in mid-March, when I thought I might be sick (false alarm, luckily), and should be totally back on track by EOD tomorrow. I probably sound pretty calm but I’m about five minutes from throwing a toddler-style tantrum at any given moment. I extremely do not want to be here, do not think this job is “essential,” and am counting the days until I can leave this shitty place behind and never look back.

    Good things…I have a car, so I can drive to/from work, and traffic’s been nonexistent. I spent last week binging a very good show (Halt and Catch Fire) because if I didn’t have other people’s problems to focus on I was going to start screaming and never stop. I noticed a few of my coworkers wearing graphic tees so I have started doing that when finding a real shirt is too much effort. At this point I take pleasure in tiny rebellions because it’s all I have.

  161. mockingbird2081*

    Healthcare administrator here. I am over five of my companies primary care locations…think Family Medicine/Urgent Care. I can work from home 1-2 days a week but other than that I am in the clinics. I go into the clinics (multiple locations) for a variety of reasons but also because the staff need to hear me tell them the plan the company has in place to keep them safe, they need to hear that I am doing all I can to keep all of them on the payroll even though we have had to cut hours for everyone. As much as I could send an email with that information they need to see that I haven’t left them, that I’m not hiding in my house all safe while they are at risk. I need to check in so I can look an employee in the eye and make sure they are okay. Because I am going into the clinics I make sure the only places I am going are home and the office. I live alone so that keeps me more isolated than some.

    The isolation is hard. I miss spending time in person with my family. I was taking a painting class before all of this that helped me with my stress level. I miss the gym, my friends, going to dinner, the movies. There isn’t anything big to look forward to and I admit that I have gotten emotional (on my drive into work) as I think about how many hours I have cut for employees. I also worry that out of all the employees that work with me directly (about 100) that one of them may get it and not make it and that paralyses me.

    BUT, I am reconnecting with old friends by making at least three phone calls to old friends each week. I am spending time away from media and the news and am catching up on good books. I am trying to grab take out at least three times a week so I can support local restaurants. I want to do more.

  162. Essential_in_San_Diego*

    I’m not medical but considered essential personnel supporting the military. Honestly its been weird, and hard. I am in the handful who spends 6 hours at work and 2 teleworking, its nice that it has been SO SO SO much quieter. I’m doing inputs and I never realized how the noise impacted my concentration. The hard part is that with limited hours I am still expected to give my data inputs as if I would work normal hours. (WHAT!!!!?????!!!) If I was on a time critical project I could extend out 12 hours and flex my hours during the week. I keep getting emails emphasizing to only be at work as needed, then get another set specifically stating the work needs to be done ASAP. My hours are dictated by who can unlock our work space and how long they can stay. Then all the extra emails for out telework check-in and check-out then another two emails for physical work check-in and check-out and of course daily emails for COVID-19 exposure that has to be reported prior to entering any DOD installation. Frankly, I’ve had enough. I wish people who didn’t need to be out would stay put so we can all get on with our lives. I’m so frazzled by this who ordeal, and the extra time I need to take to ensure that when I get back home I sanitize before going back to my family. By the time I get off from the shift assigned, because the hours can’t over lap, and de-covid-19 my outfit and body I am just EXHAUSTED… I told my lead the other day, they should really considered a back end off time for those supporting while others aren’t. Did I mention the expectation of completing things for people because they know we are in the building. Oh, and Thanks AAM because I don’t have any issue with stating very firmly, sorry but my work has a priority and I have to focus on that. The space is open feel free to come in and perform X function as needed, but only stay as long as you absolutely have to. I digress, I am very happy to be getting paid, and I do get to see the outside everyday rain or shine.

  163. drivesmenuts*

    I am still reporting to work on-site, Monday – Friday. My company was quick to enact some COVID-19 prevention measures, like splitting shifts so some people work in the morning and others work in the afternoon, asking anyone who could to work from home, asking anyone with a serious medical condition who was high risk for infection to stay home, providing lots of cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer, and pushing the 6 feet apart rule by encouraging email communications and rearranging workstations. The part where my company has dropped the ball is where they provide the absolute bare minimum as required by law for sick time and other leave policies. We are in the medical field so we are exempt from the new federal sick time laws. We are also in a county that does not perform COVID-19 testing, so the one person who was out with the virus so far has not been given any extra leave time and has been required to use all her existing sick leave and PTO to compensate for mandatory quarantine because she didn’t get tested, even though her doctor diagnosed her over the phone with the virus. Also, my company is very “business first, people last” so all employees are being pushed to perform and everyone is getting burnt out. I know that as soon as the economy picks up again, lots of people from this company will be looking for new jobs. This situation is a great way to tell a good employer from a crappy one.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      Tell the good from the bad is a good way to look at it. I heard someone say that they will ask in interviews from now on, “What did your company do during the pandemic? What were your policies? How did people react?” and I think that’s a great question.

  164. Wrench Turner*

    I’m an HVAC technician and finally furloughed myself. I couldn’t stand it anymore. We were only given PPE last week, and it was just a sandwich bag with a few pairs of thin latex type gloves, 4 or 5 wipes, a tiny bottle of sanitizer and a couple of light surgical masks. They were telling the customers that we were following CDC guidelines (without ever telling US what to do) and telling US to “stretch out” the gloves and masks – IE reuse them between customers- as much as possible. Our emergency policy was “business as usual until we’re forced to close” and I was visiting dozens of houses a week. Other HVAC company techs I talked to were only running emergency calls at least.

    My customers weren’t much better, knowing there is a major emergency but still having us go out to their house exposing everyone for non-emergency routine work. (If your AC system breaks it’s an emergency, I’m here for you. If you just need the filters changed, it’s not. 90% of my work this time of year is not). More than half of my customers are retired or elderly, and I even had one man already wheezing on oxygen! try to come up and shake my hand. The gloves are usually destroyed by the end of 1 visit with a customer because they’re not meant to deal with the heavy work we do so I ran out fast. The mask I would wear 1 all day knowing it wasn’t right but better than nothing.

    My job is already difficult and sometimes dangerous on average days but this made it so much worse. I couldn’t sleep, started getting panic attacks on the road and progressively more afraid for myself AND my customers. I was miserable at home, too, thinking that someone might get horribly sick and die, and maybe it’s me.

    It took 4 or 5 rewrites of my time off request to finally get something that was as professional and impersonal as possible without accusing management of all kinds of things (Years of AAM “What Would Allison Do?”). I finally just said “I am not knowingly sick right now but asymptomatic transmission is happening a lot and chronic asthma puts me at increased risk of complications if I do get sick.” and that I was going to take the next 3 weeks off, stretching my PTO out every other day so as not to take too big a pay cut.

    I was told to call immediately (thinking I’m fired) but the boss said that a better option would be to furlough me for up to 2 months and apply for unemployment, so I keep my benefits and don’t lose any PTO. Apparently *5 other technicians* already did this and nobody told anybody else.

    So, starting Monday I file for unemployment for the first time ever. I’ve *always* worked. I’ve been homeless and hungry but never had asked for any kind of assistance because I’ve been able to somehow hustle back, no matter what. Now.. this is all so surreal. It’s been a terrible year and I was already starting to seriously burn out, but I’ve been trying to get back in to therapy and then all of a sudden… all this.

    My partner is alternately working from home and their downtown office because their very old-school small family company hasn’t quite figured out the technology and logistics, even though the boss is trying and means well. They’ve stopped taking public transit and drive in, which is its own complication. They were also sick for a while and stayed home, and we think their Covid test was botched because they were JUST starting to set it up in my area. Then I got sick, but it was mild, and because of my asthma and usual seasonal allergies we just didn’t know if this was “regular can’t breathe” or “new can’t breathe.”

    They said they are jealous of my time off, which is understandable in some ways, but this is not a vacation, and I’m still quietly very stressed about it. I have a lot of new paperwork and decisions to make, and ‘survival brain’ isn’t the best tool to use. At least I’m safer for the moment now? I guess?

    2019 was bad; 2020 can stuff it, too. I’m going back to bed.
    Be safe out there, y’all. I worry about each and every one of you.
    Yes, really.

    1. RedinSC*

      Hi WT, OMG, just OMG.

      BUT I also want to point out that unemployment is something that you pay into with every single paycheck, so be kind to yourself. You’re not taking assistance, you’re leveraging a benefit that you and your employer have been paying into the whole time you’ve been working.

    2. J.B.*

      I’m glad you prioritized your help, and absolutely take unemployment. Please be patient with the workers processing it, but it exists for a reason and can help you get through this time. Best wishes.

  165. RedinSC*

    I’m glad to see this thread. I work in an essential business – A Food Bank. We’re a non profit and the need for our services has more than doubled in 2 weeks, and this is going to be a sustained effort minimally through the end of the calendar year.
    We’re exhausted, and a woman’s group I’m part of had a Zoom meeting, and they were all talking about how they’re taking time to do X, Y and Z that they’d never gotten to. How nice this slow pace was, etc. I nearly burst into tears because I’m pulling 10-12 hour days as part of a team of people making sure that food is getting out there to the people who have no other resources
    We’re lucky, we got national guard help. But the stress here for our employees is tremendous. When anyone coughs or goes out on a sick day, etc the rest of the office wonders if this is when the virus gets into our building.
    I will say, our community is great. A shoe line has decided to donate a pair of shoes to us and our volunteers, each. AMAZING. Restaurants (who are also really suffering right now) are bringing lunches to our food distributions for the volunteers, our donors are amazing. There are two ladies in our community sewing face coverings for all our staff and volunteers. This is amazing support. It makes me tear up to think about it.
    Then you have the other side – if we’re on the news, someone will write in and say… “at second 4 of this, a person was touching their hair….blah blah blah, it’s unsanitary, you’re going to spread the virus!…”
    Thank you all who continue to work, either from home or not, for all who have volunteered in a way to help. For all who are staying home so that when we’re out here, there’s the space for us to be 6 feet away from each other. And thank you for letting me vent here.

    1. Wrench Turner*

      Feeding the hungry is righteous, holy work. Thank you and all your peers for keeping on.

  166. Ace in the hole*

    Garbage worker here! I oversee health and safety stuff at a county waste transfer station – needless to say we’re not shutting down come hell or high water. (Figuratively at least. We’re at sea level so high water is kind of a dealbreaker)

    I’m…actually doing just fine. To be honest I’m glad I still “get” to go to work – I’d go nuts if I was stuck at home all the time. However, I’m also in a really good position: I’m young and healthy, everyone in my household is low-risk, and our job allows for very strict social distancing from the general public. I have a lot of compassion for my colleagues who are at higher risk, or live with vulnerable people, or have other burdens right now like childcare or an out-of-work partner.

    We’re trying to take care of them by letting people who really need to stay home have the leave time they need even though it means we’re running a skeleton crew and bare-bones operations (for example, we’ve shut down the recycling facility but kept garbage service running). My big worry right now is what we’ll do if any of our staff get sick. We’re a small agency with only 30 employees… it would only take 1-2 shift crews getting sick before we’d be in a major bind. So far there hasn’t been much community spread in this region so I’ll cross that bridge if we get to it.

    The other rough part is reconciling what people *think* keeps them safe with what actually works and is practical. It’s very disheartening when you have to explain to every single manager why forcing everyone to wear latex gloves for everything will make things worse, only to have them ignore you and tell everyone to wear gloves. Same deal with masks: yes N95’s are protective, yes we can obtain them, but it’s actually illegal for us to tell employees to wear them unless we do certain things that are really not feasible right now. On the other hand, washing hands and staying the hell away from people is very effective and we can totally do that! But some people get very upset when they see you “falling short” of what they think ideal protective measures are (regardless of how practical or factually-supported those measures are).

    1. Greasy Turtle*

      Just want to say thank you to you and everyone that picks up the garbage. It seems like it would be nasty nasty job.

  167. Fluff*

    Frontline here (medical). What does not work? Watching the news and hearing only about the healthy people who died. Worrying about seeing co workers (and me, family) get sick and not doing well. Seeing friends, and I mean smart people spread untruths and bad science. Especially those that think we made this up – the whole lack of PPE. Constantly vigilant – leaving the “cootie shoes” and clothes outside the house – tired. Doing the whole allocation thing. Yeah, that is what it means. Politicizing a virus. It does not have a passport. Knowing that this is far worse for folks already affected by health and many other inequities. Wish the hoarding would stop. And all the bad mouthing of China. Makes me sad that we don’t understand a virus. It’s a cold packet of genetic material – that’s it. We all had to cut our hours earlier because prepping for COVID19 has been financially devastating to the hospital. Then we had to increase hours – was hard to tell people that your hours are cut but be available because it is coming…

    What helps?
    1. I get more social connection that a lot of folks at home with fellow workers, even in our bunny outfits.
    2. I am sometimes jealous of the folks who stay at home – then I look at that I have a paycheck. That is way more than many folks have right now.
    3. Pretending to be the Tick in my bunny suit on the COVID floor. My nurse is Moth. No hugs for this Tick though. Once this passes, lots of hugs. Occasionally a patient gets the reference and that is a good laugh.
    4. Somebody writes in chalk, fun and hopeful messages to us at the hospital entrances. They must sneak out in the middle of the night because we never see them, but new messages appear. It is really sweet.
    5. People trying to get us PPE. Lots of people trying to help. It is nice to be liked. A few months ago it was often “docs/NPs/APPs/nurses just want to over charge us.” Now we aren’t the bad guys anymore and many want to help. That is nice.
    6. Amazon. Mail. UPS. Has helped me get supplies to make stuff like intubation boxes for the team, etc.
    7. Working together – new openess from the admin (CEO, etc.). We all learning about what the other does and how it ties together. All the MacGyver ways people figure out to help. People are geniuses.
    8. Watching some of my stay at home friends get educated about the important stuff: watching Star Wars in the proper order, Star Trek, and having more folks to talk to about that. :-)
    9. Sometimes I can walk to work. Music and boogie.
    10. Hope that once this gets better (it will) that we will build a better more equitable healthcare system in the US. There is actually a lot of hope about that in the hospital where I work.

    1. nep*

      Thank you so much for this, and for you and your team’s dedication and work.
      These two give me life:
      Working together – new openess from the admin (CEO, etc.). We all learning about what the other does and how it ties together. All the MacGyver ways people figure out to help. People are geniuses.
      Hope that once this gets better (it will) that we will build a better more equitable healthcare system in the US. There is actually a lot of hope about that in the hospital where I work.

  168. PeanutButterJar*

    I work in records at a law firm on the west coast. Apparently I’m essential, so I’m still commuting and going to work everyday. Some of my coworkers were furloughed but hopefully can come back soon. It is nice because there are only 3-5 people in the office now and we are able to get free parking in the building, but it still sucks having to leave the house everyday. I am grateful for my job and cannot do most of my workload from home, so I guess I have to compromise. I’m also grateful for the attorneys and staff who are staying home and not exposing me or my coworkers.

  169. OTRex*

    I’m in health care and I still have to go to work at my hospital. I am in a clinical role, though I don’t treat acute patients, so I don’t really have patients right now, but I still have to go. We are farmed out to other parts of the labor pool, or can work on department projects, call families and update home therapy programs, etc. I am unmarried and live alone. So I go to work, hope I don’t get coronavirus, and then go home to no one. Every day I wake up healthy is like resetting the timer on a bomb. I can’t see my family who lives nearby and I am missing out on things with my young niece and nephew. We Facetime but it’s not the same. I can’t see my parents who are in their late 60s, so are at more risk and my father insists on going golfing no matter how many times I’ve yelled at him. I’m losing weight from not eating because of stress and every little thing I feel in my body freaks me out. I am grateful that my hospital is still paying me even though I’m not treating and therefore not billing, but if I had a husband to help pay the bills, I’d use up all of my PTO and then take an unpaid leave of absence until things returned to normal. All I want to do is stay at home and ride this thing out.

  170. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

    On the plus side, traffic is absolutely gorgeous. My commute was already pretty easy, now it’s an absolute breeze.

  171. Greasy turtle burger*

    Im a me mechanic for the local water utility.I have 30 out of over 200 water and sewer pumping stations to take care of so clean water gets to the customers and the sewerage doesn’t dump into the area rivers, lakes and streams.Im not at risk as much as some others because I usually don’t interact with many folks and with so many staying at home, theres almost no traffic keeping me from getting to my stations. But with more folks staying home, and with so much extra cleaning being done,I’ve noticed an increase in the amount of cleaning wipes being used.
    Folks,I know its convenient, and they do work really well, please please please don’t flush them down the toilet.Just because it says flushable on the box doesnt mean they should be.If you dropped the key to your home in the toilet,I bet they would flush on down just like a wipe,but that doesnt mean it should be.;) So please,help us out.No wipes and no grease down the drain.

  172. Kezi*

    Private child care here. I am essential for essential workers, which my clients are so I still work.

    I think the hardest thing for me is that I have had to completely change how I do my job. No playgrounds or pools. No bike rides to parks. No magnet fishing or trail tag or water balloon battleship with the neighbors. I have always been an active nanny in all seasons . One of the things I talk about in interviews is that I am NOT a screens-sitter. So now, even though I still have my job…I kind of feel like I don’t. What makes me, ME at work isn’t there. And I feel like I can’t complain bc I’m still working.

    1. Emily Elizabeth*

      I empathize so much Kezi! I am a laid off daycare teacher currently nannying for one of my families. It’s so hard to feel like I’m doing my job well when so many of my traditional resources and activities are limited. We’re making the best of it and I think I’m doing an okay job of not letting it affect their days too much, but I completely understand what you mean by rethinking how to do the job. And it’s really hard to motivate myself to make the days still special and exciting for the kids when I feel like all of my mental capacity is consumed by anxiety.

  173. Veterinary Nurse*

    It’s so weird, because while we don’t have the same issues as human healthcare, we’re running into a lot of the same issues. Insanely long shifts, because everywhere else is closed. Lack of PPE (we don’t have masks for surgeries! We have had to make our own masks!) for everything from surgery to trauma cases. Constant exposure to the public. One thing our hospital has noticed is that far fewer people are willing to treat their pet’s illnesses. They are choosing to euthanize because they can’t handle treatment financially right now. We’re around so much more death than normal lately and it’s exhausting.

    1. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      I’m heartbroken for you and the staff, the families and their beloved pets – as pet parents ourselves (with close relationships with our veterinarians and staff). Not only do you have to provide a peaceful transition for these pets (although deeply regretable even in the most “normal” humane instances) – but also providing emotional support for the families who never imagined having to make that decision under these devastating circumstances.
      Sending huge hugs with overwhelming gratitude to you and your colleagues for truly being angels on earth, for both animals and humans.

  174. Exhausted Frontline OP*

    Alison! Thank you so much for posting my comment–what a pleasant surprise!! I’m super late to the party because…ya know, being at work all day, and working late. I work in homeless services, which many people may not realize is an essential service, but we absolutely are (if you ever want to do an interview about the world’s best/weirdest job, I’m your gal). I’ll respond to individual comments over the weekend, but here’s a bunch of thoughts in no particular order:

    1. One of the first things I was tasked with during this outbreak was how to provide health education to people who literally lack housing and access to running water when everyone from the WHO to our local health authority has told us to wash our hands and stay home as much as possible. Culturally competent health education is extremely lacking. And yes, I’m in an HCOL city in the U.S. Inequity exists everywhere.

    2. I’m selfishly thankful to still have a job that’s secure and keeping me busy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly stressful being at work, especially without adequate PPE, but in some ways it’s better than being alone all day with my thoughts. I’m in my 20s, have no health conditions that make me high-risk, and live alone, so luckily my decision to keep going into work really only affects me, but many essential workers are not in the same position. I realize I’m not invincible, but the odds are on my side, so I’m willing to gamble. I empathize with people who are deemed essential and making more difficult decisions than I am about whether or not they should continue to go into work.

    3. I can’t even imagine working 40+ hours on the frontlines right now. I was moved to WFH 2 days/week a few weeks ago, so I can do all my admin work/planning phone calls from home, since those don’t need to be done from the office. (I will never be caught up on case notes #socialservices). I’m STILL exhausted. So shout out to anyone who’s still full-time work from work, and please schedule some well-deserved PTO as soon as humanly possible.

    4. ADVOCATE ADVOCATE ADVOCATE for essential workers to get protections like paid sick leave and health insurance!! My salary is laughably low, especially compared to many of my friends who have similar amounts of experience/less education (I have a master’s, most of my close friends have bachelor’s), but I’m fortunate to have fully employer-funded health insurance, a measly per diem for days I’m not WFH, and my agency extended ten days of emergency leave a few weeks before it became law. And we’re making accommodations for anyone who is high risk/lives with someone who is high risk to become fully WFH even though our job is not normally set up for that, which I fully agree with, even though it puts more strain on us still in the field. My agency is the exception in my field, not the norm, and if this pandemic hit a few years ago when I was working at another agency in my city, I’d be a lot more scared about both my health and my financial well-being and health. I think I can speak for most essential workers when I say that we love your applause and care packages, but what we really want right now are good benefits, a living wage and employment protections. I love my doctor friends, but most of us make nowhere near a doctor’s salary. Check in on your essential friends/relatives, and ask what you can do to make their lives easier right now.

    5. Donate to your local social services agency if you can. People experiencing homelessness, food insecurity, in domestic violence situations, people with disabilities, etc. are in particularly precarious situations right now. And/or donate to health care organizations for obvious reasons. If you’re not in a position to donate, there’s absolutely no judgment! I understand that lots of people have either been thrown into precarious situations by the pandemic, or were navigating precarious situations beforehand.

    6. Building off point 5, there’s absolutely no shame in seeking help from social services right now if you need it, even if you never have before! We’re more overwhelmed than usual, but we’re still here and doing our best to help! Also, seeking help right now (especially in these exceptional times) doesn’t mean you’ll be dependent on social services forever (although no shame in that either). It’s okay not to be okay right now. Repeat ad nauseam. But I promise it won’t be like this forever <3

    7. DON'T HOARD PPE YOU DON'T NEED. If you're practicing good social distancing, you really don't need more than a very small amount of hand sanitizer/gloves/masks–and you don't need an N-95 mask at all. Donate your excess to excess to an essential employer, preferably health care, but other essential employees could benefit too. If I run out of hand sanitizer, I will be pulled from doing my job. And I'm running low on sanitizer; I don't even have enough to distribute to clients who lack access to running water. I provide food, water, health screening and connection to medical services to about 200 people experiencing homelessness PER WEEK. Currently, we only have enough PPE for staff, when we really need more to hand out to our clients as well, most of whom are medically high risk.

    8. As a non-obvious essential employee, I've also been surprised at how many people are essential that I never would have realized under non-pandemic circumstances. Thank you for the work you're doing, and ignore the haters who yell at you for leaving your house. I see you. I see you. I see you.

    <3

  175. anonymoose*

    Today I discovered that washing my glasses lenses with dish soap does WONDERS to stop them from fogging up to the point of uselessness when wearing the masks we’re now required to wear! If you’re struggling with that too try dish soap or barbasol seriously first day without a headache from just giving up on seeing today!!

  176. Bookworm*

    I just want to thank all of you who still must go to work, no matter what you’re doing or whatever. Clearly the reasons vary but all the same, thanks. We’ll stay home to try to make it a little safer for you.

  177. A the Pharm Tech*

    HMO pharmacy tech here. It’s been … interesting. They’ve closed all our smaller clinics, including mine, and moved everyone into our larger hubs or the medium-sized clinics. The hubs have Urgent Care and are specifically taking Covid-19 patients, while the medium clinics are specifically not.

    They’ve crammed 4 pharmacies into 1, and we have between 16 and 20 people working on a daily basis, in a pharmacy that usually has 8 to 10. There aren’t enough registers for all the techs. Everybody’s trying not to run into each other, most of us have no idea where everything is, there’s a lot of confusion on who’s doing what. We’re doing a ton of same-day FedEx deliveries, so those guys are running in and out several times a day. I’m sure they’re exhausted and sick of having their temperature every single time they come in. They check ours every single morning, and we are now provided appropriate PPE. We sanitize several times a day.

    The first week was the worst. The second week they put in sneeze guards, which was a nice thought, but now people can’t hear very well through the glass, and there’s a glare from the lights, so patients can’t see us either. We’re on our third week, and things are almost normal. Everyone’s tired but we’ve become a cohesive and very productive team. Our metrics are looking fabulous (the most important thing)!

    So it’s chaos but it’s our chaos. I wish more of our older patients were able to stay home, but we have had a lot of friends/family/neighbors picking up for many of them, thankfully. Most people have been pretty nice, many have thanked us, and it’s always nice to be appreciated.

    Sorry this is so long!

  178. Floralfiend*

    Because my job has furloughed 80% of our staff I am THE person covering three departments in our warehouse. I don’t get a real coffee or lunch break, I need to be available for our business customers. I’m running on fumes and it’s been a week. Me and the fellow cover the other two departments said that after this we’d like to see the fact that we are carrying the entire company be reflected in raise or bonus form when this is over. Let’s be real, that’s not going to happen and I’m already a little bitter.

  179. gsa*

    Holy shit on a shingle. There were a metric ton on posts that were just walls of letters and words…

    I work in the SE for a building supply company. Look-up “bldr”, yup that’s us.

    I project manage installed sales. All in all. Things are about the same.

    I get up, do my work, and come home.

    My wife has been working from home for nearly a month. She worried I might catch something and bring it home. I wash hands and sanitize everything in sight, before and after I touch it.

    We are good for now.

    What will ultimately crush the economy is when people stop spending money.

    We’re good for a year, so I’m not worried us, just the people that are paycheck away…

    Y’all stay safe out there!!!

    gsa

  180. Emily Elizabeth*

    Thank you to the OP and to Alison for creating this thread; it’s been humbling to read through everyone’s situations and stories, and helpful to hear their tips. I’m a laid off daycare/preschool teacher, and I’m currently nannying 30 hrs/wk for one of my daycare families. The parents are both lawyers; one parent goes every day into the office still, and the other mostly works from home except for occasional court days/meetings.

    It’s been hard because I daily question whether working is worth the risk. On the one hand, I know I’m doing a big service to the family, and it’s my only form of income at the moment. I’m lucky to have the savings to make it for a couple months if I needed or wanted to, but it feels risky to blow through that when I have the option to have an income. On the other hand, with both parents still to some degree going into work, to what extent is me going over every day creating an unnecessary point of contact for me and my partner? I also am torn because while the parents have been great traditional employers (paying me more than my previous full-time salary for part-time nannying, providing me with lots of resources for the kids, respecting my hours, etc.), there are ways that they don’t seem to be taking precautions as seriously as I do (e.g. they still had their house cleaners come and have sometimes let the kids play outside with other neighborhood kids and on the neighborhood playground). It’s just hard when my friends and family question why I’m still working and I already struggle constantly with my own safety/ethics/finances of the decision. On top of huge general anxiety about the state of the world and grieving the fact that I 99% chance won’t see the vast majority of the kids in my class again this school year. I feel a loss of identity with the loss of my teaching role, and while I’m trying my best to be the great nanny I know I can be, and take it day by day, my heart and energy are really not in it right now.

  181. Mary*

    I work in a primary care physician’s office and I am exhausted every. dang. day. I had to switch over the office’s billing system in February so I was already overstressed, and running straight into the pandemic just made things worse. I’m not as exposed as hospital workers but my doc has been seeing possible Covid cases in the parking lot. It’s a lot and I know I should be grateful I get to leave the house and keep a paycheck but it’s so hard.

  182. Kat*

    I’m an office manager in a warehousing and logistics company. Long, and short, we handle a lot of your food. We are just really burned out. It is a lot of weight to carry, to know that the availability of food comes down to people like us showing up and staying healthy. Company wide, we are working a lot of hours, and we are recruiting manpower to help with demand, as well as implementing supports for our teams.

    It is hard to feel pulled in so many different directions. We are worried about physical and mental health for our selves and our teams. I have three kids in a closed school system that are learning at home, and I am constantly worried about potentially exposing them by working outside of the house.

  183. Chris*

    I’m the guy who, if I get it right, 230 of 250 people can work from home. I still have to come in for some things. If I get it wrong, we’re out of business. A month ago, 245 of them worked in the office most of the time.

    I manage 70 of those 250. Getting it right enough is a heavy responsibility.
    Fortunately, I work somewhere that ‘gets it’, or at least, in times of crisis, puts people first..can’t really express how much that makes a difference in times like this.

    It’s been better than I dared hope, to be honest.. the systems work, the company and team are supporting everyone.. and the coffee has improved because I’m just bringing a thermos and never leaving my office except to wash my hands (or do the things I need to be on site for).

  184. julie_rocks*

    My husband and I are both geologists working in environmental consulting, and we’ve been deemed essential because our work ranges from construction-adjacent to public health issues as we do air/soil/groundwater sampling.

    We work for two different companies – both multi-nationals but from Texas offices – and the way they’re handling this is light-years apart.

    Husband’s company has been wfh focused from day one; when he was hired, he went to the local office to meet people and see how things are run, but was also presented with a laptop and second monitor and instructions on how to be reimbursed if he needed to buy a new printer, microphone, headset, or office chair. And shown where the lockers are as they hot desk due to the wfh culture, so he has a place to store anything he wants to keep there. He goes into the office on occasion if he needs to print things out or gab office supplies or just wants to get out of the house.

    About six months after husband started that job, my company started giving the peons (non-managers) laptops. Corporate made it clear that this was not meant to be taken as as signal that working from was A Thing That We Could Do. My boss, thankfully, while still stuck in the past, said he was happy we had them so we could wfh in case we needed to wait at home for a plumber or if we were in the field part of the day and just wanted to finish the day from home or if we were sick enough that coming into the office seemed daunting but we could still wfh. So, he believes in flexibility but not that wfh could ever be a thing.

    With our municipality shutting things down, husband’s company closed the office in that they do not want people working there except in extreme circumstances, but they kept it open enough that people could pop in for printing, supplies, etc. They sent husband a little care package with hand sanitizer and gloves as he has field work scheduled (he’s actually on a field project this week), and the company and his immediate management have made it abundantly clear that if anyone feels unsafe with travel or if they can’t get the PPE they need for the field site (nitrile gloves are out of stock with all our usual suppliers), they can call the project off. They can’t bill more than 40 hours a week, which sucks for field projects, but that just means some projects are going longer than a week.

    My company wasted no time in informing us that we were essential, and that by God, essential employees needed to be in the office. While my office is thankfully not densely populated, we house multiple different divisions from within the company, and the inconsistencies are wild. I share an office with another geologist in the environmental group, and I am so glad that he takes this all seriously and we’re doing our best to keep our distance from each other and be safe; we’re about as politically opposite as you can imagine but damned if we don’t agree on this. The offices around us house people from a completely different division, including one loudmouth who used to work in the New Orleans office who was bragging about how he went to Lake Charles (across the TX-LA border from Houston) last week but doesn’t need to self-isolate because for some reason he thinks the governor’s mandate doesn’t apply to him because his boss said so?

    A reminder that my husband and I do the EXACT SAME TYPE OF WORK.

    I’ve been home most of this week burning my annual sick time as that rolls January 1 and I won’t get more vacation time until my anniversary in a few weeks. But, I can’t do much because boss keeps calling with little billable tasks for me. And bless him for trying to keep us all working (truly, he’s trying really hard), but here’s the thing: my company also requires that any PTO (sick, vacation) be taken in full day, 8-hour blocks. Hell on that. I managed to get one full 8-hour day recorded this week, but come tomorrow I may have to just put down 4 billable/4 sick and see what happens lest they try not to pay me for work I’ve already done. I have a field project next week that I’m super-excited about because of the technical work it entails, but I’m nervous about traveling. Gas stations, hotel, gotta buy food at the local Wal-Mart. I’m hoping they just furlough me after that (company has been furloughing instead of laying off, to its credit). I’ve only gotten a few glances from neighbors when I leave/come home, but I’m carrying an “essential employee” letter, I share an office with apparent idiots, I’m almost out of billable work, I ‘m staying away from social media because it’s so weird to be working regularly when others aren’t (and not to mention the post from panicked people scolding everyone who’s not on absolute lockdown if they don’t meet that person’s definition of essential) and even when I’m home, I can’t focus on house cleaning or reading a book or whatever it is because I’m expected to watch my phone. Eff this. We can survive just fine if I go on unemployment, especially with the enhancements. Hell, we’ll be fine if both of us do for a while. We’re lucky, I know. I just want at least short-term answer about where I stand.

    Oh, and in accordance with our corporate safety initiatives, they put wipes in the break room at work.

    Automotive glass wipes.

  185. MBA RN*

    I’m a director in healthcare over 3 departments + I recently opened a nurse advice call center specifically for Covid-19,. I also have a 4 month old and 2 year old at home. I’m grateful to be making a difference for my community but holy cow I’m fried. I’m not sure I can keep up this frenetic pace. I’m more sheltered than most in healthcare as my teams aren’t involved in direct patient care and 1 department has been able to go fully remote. However, we could all be mandated to work in our labor pool at any time which is massively stressful by itself. For now, my husband has been able to get the time off work to take care of our kids (bit can’t work from home otherwise) but childcare is another huge concern.

    Some of the things that have been really helpful have been 1) my chief executive team laid out email and texting hour limitations unless truly emergent (texting 7-7, email 6am-9pm) to help reduce constantly being “on” 2) 30 minutes uninterrupted time with my kids every evening 3) not rushing into the office in the morning – conference calls while nursing at 8am instead of hurrying to get to work and pumping seems to give me a little balance 4) taking 5 minutes to prioritize the most important work and letting everything else go 5) I always stop working by 10pm unless someone might die if the work doesn’t get done that night, and 6) we choose to have zero guilt regarding screen time for the kiddos!

    I know it must be extremely difficult for those who are isolating and have lost their income, or are trying to work from home and take care of their kids at the same time but somehow those options still sound quite preferable right now. I am hanging on by a thread.

  186. Admin assistant*

    I’m an admin and I’m lucky enough to work from home 90% of the time but the other 10% I gotta do at work. When I go in it’s so strange and sad, the empty halls remind me of the pandemic, the people shy away from others, and I constantly worry that I’ll bring home COVID, but as an admin, the mail still has to go out.

  187. Bookslinger In My Free Time*

    What helps is taking the puppy for walks.

    Everything else is not helping. The pandemic hit just as we were making a big tech switch and adding a new warehouse for me to ship teapot glaze from. It’s been horrible and stressful. I have a permanent tension headache, and while my employer has done as much as they can (sneeze guards, sanitizing wipes, lots of hand soap, restricted access, etc) I have extra risk factors, and so do the people I live with.

    On top of all that, school is cancelled for the res of the academic year. So my kids are wild when I get home, and want to go places, and I am constantly explaining why they can’t (shelter in place for the city, stay at home for the state). My patience is thin and I’ve got almost no personal space or quiet time, and it’s starting to leak out at work and at home. And I keep hearing how lucky I am to still be working. Sure doesn’t feel lucky.

  188. WS*

    Pharmacy manager here. It’s been absolutely bananas. We were the first public-facing place in the entire area to start social distancing, and in the first week we copped a lot of abuse, including one case that ended with a customer being arrested. (It could have been worse – a former co-worker got hit in the head with a bottle and had to have her ear glued back together.) Even though people are more understanding now, it’s still 3 times as busy as usual – just dealing with stock logistics has suddenly turned into a full-time job. Some people have had meltdowns on hearing that their script will take an hour, but there’s no way around it.

    We have hand sanitiser and gloves but no masks, so we’re using physical distancing as much as possible – customers are only allowed in the shop if they need to medically consult with the pharmacist. We’ve shut down all close contact services like blood pressure monitoring.

    (We did get one small government shipment of masks, but that was to give to immunocompromised patients so that they can still receive care, not for us to use. It was enough to cover our patients currently doing chemo but not for the diabetics or people on immunosuppressants or the over-90s.)

  189. Zephyrus*

    My problem is the general perception that anyone who isn’t a medical professional, grocery worker, or food delivery person isn’t worth thinking about when people talk about, “Let’s cheer for our front line workers!” When those golden medical professionals take off their potentially infected gloves, masks, and other PPEs and dump them, it’s the cleaning staff who must take that potentially infected stuff and dispose of it safely without risking themselves. When a medical professional prefers to take public transit so as to lower their carbon footprint, it’s the transit staff that get exposed to the potentially asymptomatic medical professional or other people, as they help that person get to work.

    There are so many people who do their own kind of front line work and actually do meaningful front line work that don’t get acknowledged, and its demoralizing. Please thank your bus driver. Thank your building concierge. Thank your janitor/cleaner. Thank your building security guard. I could go on. If you see someone clearly working, doing work in and for a place you benefit from, thank them. They’re there to help make your life safer and easier. They deserve thank yous too.

    1. WS*

      Speaking as someone in frontline healthcare, that’s absolutely not the perception I’m getting here (and there’s no need to denigrate medical professionals while you make your point). Cleaners in particular, along with truck drivers and public transport drivers, have been praised – as they should be – and I really hope that when this is all over it comes with an appropriate boost in status and pay, just as nurses fought for back in the day.

      1. Chris too*

        I’m an occasional worker in an obscure government environmental thing – think fish hatchery, although it’s even more obscure than that! We can easily keep away from each other while we do the physical work necessary to run the place, but we’re all touching the same things.
        A small thing that makes me feel a lot better is leaving my phone and travel mug in my vehicle. It keeps me from touching something potentially contaminated and then mindlessly lifting something else to my face, or pulling my phone out of my pocket to check the time, and contaminating everything in my pocket. I sanitize myself as best I can for break and then go sit in the car with my tea and my phone ( which I clean several times a day.)
        Thank you to all who are working much more dangerous and emotionally difficult jobs in these tough times.

      2. Zephyrus*

        I wasn’t denigrating medical professionals and I’m sorry it came off that way. Where I live, there’s absolutely this perception being given. News reports, Facebook posts of local people, everyone in my sphere is ignoring anyone except medical professionals and grocery store/food delivery workers. Just because -you- don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening. I’m glad where you are that it’s better, though.

        Thank you for what you’re doing. I’m sure many people benefit from your help.

    2. E-1 motochuck 359*

      So much this. Bless the doctors,nurses,and all the medical staff taking care of those that are sick from the virus, heck any ailment that needs treatment,but there’s so many other folks doing jobs that have to be done…to many to name all of them. I maintain the water distribution and sewerage collection system for the local utility district. If my job isnt done,water doesnt get to the customers, to fire hydrants or anywhere. At least not with enough pressure to be useful. The sewerage would start to back up in the system,dump into rivers and lakes,and literally run down the street. Most folks have no idea that my job exists. Its like a good anti-virus program on your computer…It works in the background, taking care of things and the only time you notice it is when something goes wrong. And thats just my job. Theres who knows how many other jobs being done,not just because of the virus,but everyday, that are essential to keep things going that most folks dont know anything about.So please, keep all of us “background workers” in your thoughts as we all get through these interesting times.

  190. Deerb*

    Here are some thoughts from an ICU nurse at a major academic medical center in a big city, in no particular order of importance but numbered just for the sake of organization.
    1) We are TERRIFIED for ourselves. I think some of us are suppressing/concealing it better than others (I am one of the others), but we’re worried that we will get exposed at work and die. Those of us who work in medicine accept the inevitability of some workplace infectious disease exposure as part of the job, but we absolutely did not “sign up for this,” as many people on Twitter are fond of saying lately. We did not go into this field accepting the risk of exposure and death to this degree. Last month I updated the beneficiaries on my retirement accounts and filed advance directive paperwork at my hospital. I’m just shy of 30 years old.
    2) We’re terrified for each other. We make weird jokes that aren’t really jokes about who we’d want to intubate us and which of our coworkers we would and wouldn’t be comfortable with caring for us while we’re sick, naked, and vulnerable, if we were to get admitted.
    3) We are terrified we’re asymptomatic vectors who will infect others. I take every reasonable precaution I can at work, before leaving work, when I get home, and when I leave the house for rare errands, but I’m still afraid I’ll infect someone on the bus (my job is too far for me to walk to consistently, I can’t afford consistent rideshares and wouldn’t feel right potentially infecting a driver in such a small space or contaminating someone’s personal vehicle anyway, and I’m not going to buy a car) or at the grocery store, which I’m only going to once every nine days. I have had multiple conversations with supportive, loving friends where I’ve told them how guilty I feel about leaving the house for anything besides work and about getting to and from work the way that I do.
    4) We are spitting with rage at the federal government’s handling of every step of this. I will not expand on this due to fear that my keyboard will burst into flames from the sheer force of my white-hot anger.
    5) If your income, health insurance, and housing are secure and you are not physically caring for others (e.g. small children, sick parents or parents), shut up about how bored/restless/lonely you are or how worried you are about getting fat while working from home. Feel however you feel, but for the love of everything, be discerning and thoughtful about who you share your feelings with and under what circumstances. Our lives are at risk every single day we go to work. If you come to me with extensive complaints about how annoying it is that your boss is bad at using Zoom or whatever, you are being a bad friend.
    6) Check in on us, and respect that we may not have the energy or bandwidth to respond. Don’t make your frontline friends be the ones to initiate text/call/Skype/whatever conversations first–you be the one to take that initiative. But don’t get mad at us if it takes a while to respond. We care about you, but we’re exhausted and scared and may not be up to a long talk right now.
    7) Please, please, please, PLEASE stay home as much as you possibly can. Don’t go back to the store again because you forgot something from the recipe. Don’t go visit friends “just for a little while.” Don’t meet your significant other for walks where you only pretend to social distance. Every single person is experiencing at least some degree of loneliness and inconvenience right now–you aren’t special. The better we all grit our teeth and follow the guidelines, a) the fewer of us will get sick and die and b) the less time these restrictions will have to last.

  191. Crystal*

    I’m so busy I don’t have time to think about anything or worry about anything so it that way it’s nice. I don’t read/watch any news. Again, don’t have time and no good can come of it. I now work 7 days a week for about 12 hours a day that’s not nice, as I basically have no mental break at all. I take a 3 hour ish walk every Sunday no matter what. I am lucky that I don’t have kids and I’m single/live alone so I don’t have to worry about contaminating someone at home or homeschooling. I’ve been a public servant for 14 years and I have always loved that I see the impact of my job immediately and this is just that to the nth degree.

  192. Loud music*

    My industry has been deemed essential and is part of critical infrastructure.

    Frankly, I hate it. I hate having to tell my team to go out every day and work on a project that I really do not think is critical but the client is a state and they have a deadline, health and safety of workers be damned. So my people go out and do their work. Yes they are getting paid. But with each passing day I am more worried that one of them will get sick and I will have the guilt that I scheduled them on this project. Risking my own health, and I am respiratory challenged, I can live with. But if one of them gets sick and dies? I don’t know how I will get over that.

  193. Daisy Avalin*

    I’m an essential worker, because I work as a cashier in a petrol station. Not much has changed for me, because as night cashier I serve through a window/hatch (locked doors overnight) anyway. Much more cleaning/sanitising is being done, and some of the stock we’re ordering in every delivery isn’t coming in, or is short quantities. Frustrating for us, and for customers!
    Day shift colleagues have said that with the nice weather the UK is having, and the Easter weekend, they’re seeing/hearing a lot of non-essential shopping/movement going on, like people saying they’re heading to the beach!

    DH is WFH as an essential worker – he’s in car insurance claims, and finding it annoying that people are ringing in every other day with basic enquiries even when they’ve been told the bare minimum is being done due to reduced staff/hours within the industry!

  194. Grand Mouse*

    I am a janitor in a government facility- Seattle. The people I have to keep safe are critical. They’re the ones responding to the pandemic. I have to take public transit too. In downtown Seattle there is just no way to do proper social distancing, esp on the bus. I’ve ridden with people who aren’t even doing basic hygiene. And then I already have OCD, so my brain is constantly screaming about everything being contaminated, and a failure on my end spreading the contamination. I am aware of my hands every second while on the job.

  195. Thankful for AAM*

    This has been an eye opening thread and I thank everyone who posted for sharing.

    My heart is heavy after reading about all your experiences. I want to say something pithy and useful and loving but all I have is thank you. Thank you for posting. Thank you for the work you are doing. Thank you for putting up with all you are managing. And I’m sorry and am doing my part to address all the issues you raised.

    Best to all!

  196. Sue3PO*

    I’m an NP at a primary care office. Because patient volume is down our hours and pay are cut in half. We’re trying to figure out telemed options as we go. It’s hard still needing the same routines (laundry to have clean uniforms, supplies to pack lunch, gas to drive to work, etc.) but have fewer resources to work with to make all of them happen. And yes the roads are empty and the office is down to a skeleton crew and everyone else is staying home in that shared experience… I find that I have so little energy for anything once I’m home. I usually like cooking but my husband has basically taken over because I just don’t have it in me to figure out meal plans with the weird grocery shopping reality. Thank you for this thread it’s really good to hear from others who feel the same conflicting things.