This post continues a series on our experiences under COVID-19, inspired by the realization that “we are all field collectors” in the effort to someday tell the story of what happened in 2020. Consider this an invitation to write your own stories of pandemic life, and to submit for publication on this blog–guidelines here.
By Kurt Baumann
It’s amazing how something so small could have a big impact. Without a pen, you can’t write or sign anything. Lose your car keys, you can’t drive anywhere. If you’re infected with a virus, a tiny micro-organism, your body can get sick or even die.
Covid-19 has made a big impact. Besides its threat of death, it’s stirred up fear on a global level. With no cure in sight, the United States, our state included, have made many changes, to its regular routine, to prevent it from spreading. Besides wearing face masks, inventing “social distancing” (a fancy term for having people to stand at least six feet apart from each other), and having businesses, public health offices, and libraries close to prevent crowds from gathering.
With no libraries to check out books from, I must have renewed the books I checked out, back in March, many times. Without public access, personal computers deny people a way to the internet or a way type up documents. I can’t visit my mother because of the stay -at home-order. No monthly gatherings are at my church. Grocery stores are open, but they require masks and disinfected carts. Nothing in my old familiar routine seems to exist anymore.
Covid-19 has killed the concept of initiative–but it has introduced me to a whole new life.
I have become a slacker, an idler, a lazy bum who does nothing all day. The term goes back to the nineteenth century, when the largest irrigation canal was built in the Sudanese. Workers, protesting labor conditions, deliberately slowed down their progress earning them the name “slacker.” It has become a label for people for who evade military service and young people who have no drive.
Now I have an excuse not to do anything. I wake up and lie in bed all day long. If I don’t nap, I watch as the hours pass on the clock, as the sunlight of day passes to darkness of night. Each day seems the same. If it wasn’t for a full bladder that makes me go to the bathroom, I wouldn’t get off my mattress at all. Convid-19 has given me an excuse not to do anything. Before it came along, I had no excuse at all.
I don’t shower or dress. Since I stay in my apartment, anyway, I can walk around naked. If I put on any clothes, it’s the same ones I wore three or four days in a row. Cutting down doing on my laundry saves me money, by not putting any change my apartment’s coin-operated washer and dryer. With the stay at home order in effect, no one comes to visit me, I don’t have to vacuum, clean dishes, take out garbage, or work on that book I told people I’d write. If I go outside at all, it’s to go to my apartment foyer, pick up my newspaper, and do the crossword puzzles and other games.
I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not a total slacker. If I get hungry, I have to grocery shop for food. Since I have Diabetes, I have to take my medication. If my skin gets itchy, I have to take a bath. Can you blame a person for wanting to go the Post Office to see if anything came for them? Guilt can be a problem, though. It makes me notice how dirty my apartment is and do the chores, so I vacuum, clean the dishes, do laundry, take out garbage, and do the laundry. It also makes me do research for that book I told people I’d write.
At least I don’t have to feel guilty that I’m in a minority. This quarantine has produced other slackers. People used to slaving during working hours, living from paycheck to paycheck, and having their children in schools. The ones who have gone stir crazy and have taken to protesting at their state capitols holding signs with sayings like: “My Life is Greater Than Your Fears”
As I conclude, I would like to say that I’m grateful for an incentive provide for me by the leader of my writer’s group. I didn’t have a reason to write before, but with technology that makes meetings possible, during quarantine, I had one—and something to write about. I looked deep within myself and came up with this article. I would like to close by saying “Thank you.”
© 2020 Kurt Baumann
Since 1983, Kurt Baumann has lived in Beaver Dam involved in his community theater, church, and contributer to his local newspaper. After working a variety of jobs for most of his life, he has retired to do some writing. He has written one book: The Written Works of Kurt Baumann.