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Since everyone else is telling their Covid experiences, I guess it is time to tell mine. Some of it I discussed in my Quote of the Day post “Problems.”
I worked for a major airline as a technical writer as a contract employee. I like being a contractor; it allows me to avoid most of the politically correct training foisted on direct-hire employees. It pays well enough and my health insurance comes through my primary employer: me. I do not have to worry about losing my health insurance or paying COBRA if I lose my job. The downside is when the company you are contracting with hits financial trouble contract employees are the first ones let go.
I saw layoff coming in the first week of March. Air travel had dropped faster than a flamed-out SST the last week of February. COVID killed air travel quicker than it killed Wuhan citizens. The company I worked for went from record profits to bleeding cash in three weeks. Arterial bleeding.
I updated my resume the weekend of March 7-8. On Tuesday, I got together for lunch with some other contractors to plan potential exit strategies. By Thursday, my bosses let all contractors know we released the following Tuesday. On Monday, they asked us to check out when we left. We were allowed to bill for Tuesday, even if we did not come in.
Full COVID craziness had not set in; panic was beginning but had not settled in. I went to church on March 15; the last time until May 24. By St. Patrick’s Day the country and world were in full panic mode. Lockdowns began and I realized any job hunt would be futile.
That was okay. On 9/11 the economic music stopped playing without a job chair under me. I exhausted unemployment and savings and went into debt before I found a new job. After that I focused on developing additional cash flows besides the day job. By March 2020, I had three including freelance writing. Finally, I had a big tax refund coming.
Additionally, I spent March 2019 to March 2020 paying off debt and saving cash. Except for the mortgage, I was debt-free by January. My bank balance was healthy. For the first time in my life, losing the day job was not a disaster. I could live off savings until I was eligible for full Social Security retirement.
Since I knew there was no chance of finding new work, I hunkered down writing books.
I had four books under contract in March. The first of the four was due in June; the last in March 2021. Normally it takes three to four months writing weekends and evenings to finish a book. I was behind schedule on the one due in June; so far behind I planned to take a few weeks off the day job in late March. Suddenly I had time. I spent the next six weeks finishing it. Delivered it and billed it the first week of May. The only reason it was not delivered a week earlier was my editor went on vacation.
Meanwhile, as I am beavering away on that book, the world goes crazy. Everything shuts down: restaurants, book stores, worst of all (for me) libraries. Everyone is shrieking “WE’RE GONNA DI-I-IEEE!!! from COVID.”
I don’t see that happening. I live in Texas and no one I know is dying from it. Those that die of it seem to mostly be in nursing homes (I think 47% of Texas deaths occurred in nursing homes.). The fatality rate seems inflated to me. I worked with heavy-duty statistics and data analysis during my years as a Space Shuttle navigator. The ability to identify and isolate bad data was a big part of the job. It seems to be derived from the fatality rates of those hospitalized with COVID, not those who get the disease.
Those I know who get it go through an experience that could be described as worse than a bad case of influenza but not as bad as an episode of norovirus (that stomach bug that is so bad your biggest fear is that you will not die). The local fire chief who got it and the city and local papers trotted him out as a poster child COVID victim, but it did not describe a near-death experience. It sounds like a bad case of influenza.
Even in New York, ground zero for the COVID medical disaster, hospitals did not get overwhelmed. There were sufficient ventilators and personal protective equipment. Most deaths there seem associated with government incompetence. Who in their right mind sends COVID patients to long-term care facilities? Not sanitizing the buses and subway cars daily? Madness.
Nor does the disease appear as contagious or as fatal as everyone thought in March. The CDC now reports contagion and fatality rates on par with a really bad flu season. The WHO is also stating that masks are unnecessary (this is not an aerosol disease), and the CDC reports it dies on surfaces pretty quickly; something I began suspecting when supermarkets failed to become a vector for the disease.
Anyhow it is now the start of June. My bank balance is the same as it was when I got let go in mid-March. I have yet to receive my tax refund (which should have come, but I suspect all the IRS types are hiding in their bunkers and not doing taxes) or payment for the book I delivered in early May (I expect that in June – they have until June 30, and will probably pay sooner). That means the bank balance should stay higher than when I was let go until September or so, assuming no other income and no emergencies requiring cash.
Meanwhile, I am about one-third of the way through writing the next book – which is due in late September. At that rate, I will get it done in June (assuming I do not pick up another day job before then). The biggest hit is the loss of interlibrary loan.
I may be the only person in the country who lost a job due to COVID that is doing very little differently than I would have been otherwise. I still would have stayed home a few weeks in late March to work on the book I delivered. Since then, I have largely holed-up in my office, not because of lockdowns, but because I am a writer and that is where I write. Without a day job, and needing income, I stay there. Yes, I am now looking for work, but tech writing jobs are still thin on the ground, and I do not need to grab the first one that comes along. (One advantage of not being on unemployment this time around.)
Mostly I feel cheated and lied to, especially by the media. They exaggerated the dangers and are still exaggerating. (Well, until riot season began and they found a new squirrel to chase.) They are providing cover for local and state officials who are continuing lockdowns, even when it is apparent they are worse than useless. Mask wearing and social distancing are proving to be just theater.
It is said history repeats itself, first as tragedy, and then as farce. The first two weeks of the shutdown was tragedy. A lockdown made sense then due to the lack of information. It may have been merited for another two weeks. After the first month? The reaction to COVID has been a farce.Published in