I Could Not Even Take My Dog Down for a Walk Without Getting Arrested

Illustration for article titled I Could Not Even Take My Dog Down for a Walk Without Getting Arrested
Illustration: Chelsea Beck/Gizmodo
Sick DaysSick DaysWelcome to Sick Days, a collection of stories from readers on how the current covid-19 health crisis is changing the way they work and the futures they can expect in these uncertain times.

Are you a frontline worker dealing with new stresses or irresponsible management? Is working (or not working) from home starting to take a psychological toll? Submit a story using this Google form or send me an email with the subject line “My Covid Story” and provide as much detail as you’re comfortable with.

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Authors’ identities have been verified, and submissions have been edited for length, grammar, and clarity.


Tyler, radio news editor, Mid-Atlantic US

As journalists, we all have a breaking news gear. The adrenaline kicks in and you do what you need to do. It feels like it’s been six months of that.

The pandemic, the recession, the protests on top of normal election coverage—it’s daunting. And it takes an emotional toll, having to keep your game face on through all this. By pure serendipity, I signed up for Talkspace like five minutes before this all started really going down, and that really helped arm me with strategies to limit my anxiety. But here I am, working at home with my mom, and not a lot of places to go, not a lot of friends to go see.

I’m a wallflower by nature, big time, but didn’t realize how much I’d miss people when I couldn’t be around them.

I have nearly all my vacation time socked away but my work ethic keeps me from using it. I don’t want to be away from the desk on a day I might really be needed. We’re short staffed and even though I’m my toughest critic, if something pops off and I’m not there, I feel irresponsible for having left. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but I am. There’s also the problem of me being unable to really enjoy a vacation day unless I’m out of the house. Go out and do what where?

I’m grateful that I’m not suffering. I have my health, I have my job, I have a roof over my head. I’m grateful that I’m able to help—supporting charities, donating blood. But I just don’t know what story lies around the corner. I don’t know when I’ll be able to see family in California. I don’t know when I’ll be able to go to another anime convention. I don’t know when I’ll be able to go to the ballpark and watch a game. I could dwell on that or I could choose not to. I can control what I can control and the rest, I just need to be patient and do my part.

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Yuval, developer, Panama

I was working since 2017 from Panama with a Swiss firm as a full-time remote developer. Also before that, I also worked part-time in office and part-time remote for 16 years, so when covid arrived nothing much professionally changed for me. What changed was on a personal level.

In Panama, we were in complete lockdown for four months. Men would only go out twice a week for two hours each time, and women would go out three times a week for two hours at a time. I could not even take my dog down for a walk without getting arrested so I had to train her to do everything on the terrace. The lockdown started at the beginning of March and we had our second baby at the end of April. That was definitely fun, as we could not get any help during this time and I had to attend to my three-year-old.

About two months after my wife gave birth, the lockdown was not eased and it was just too much to bear. There were no hospital beds available, the economy was just getting crushed... Suddenly a direct humanitarian flight from Panama to Israel was announced, the first ever direct flight between the countries and we had literally two days to get ourselves organized, hop on the plan, and move.

My job basically moved with me, so nothing changed there. The only thing that changed is how happy my kid and wife are. Here in Israel although there is social distancing and masks still, everything is open. We were on quarantine for two weeks and then freedom!

After one month in Israel, we decided we’re staying here for good. Signed a lease, bought a car, and my kid is going to kindergarten next week.

In three weeks my dog will be sent on a flight here as we could not take her with us. And that’s pretty much it.

I can only hope for the best for the country where I lived for 30 years of my life but I have to do what’s best for my kids, and Israel is just the right place right now...

Sam, Library IT, Northeast US

I lucked out because the university I work for immediately went full-time remote back in mid-March, and agreed to give us our normal pay for the whole time. My boyfriend’s company followed suit in June, but he was furloughed for a few weeks until they got their remote tools functioning. Now we’re both back in our offices. I’m physically in part-time with the rest from home and he’s full time.

I’m not going to lie though, in a few days the students and faculty return—this is a pretty conservative leaning crowd (I am neither conservative nor religious but you get work where you can)—and it’s already hard enough to get people to take masks seriously before the trust fund MAGA lot come in.

Truthfully I thought I was going to be fine during quarantine since I’m already a bit of a homebody. But losing the smaller things: weekly visits with our parents, going out for dinner, going to the renaissance fair or other events we had planned... it hurts. I wanted to go to one of protests in support of BLM but because of the virus I’ve had to keep all of my support digital. At the very least we got to keep our shared hobby of playing D&D with some friends over video chat.

Some of my family members have relaxed and started acting like everything is fine when it’s not, so I’ve retreated even further back and have been made to feel guilty about it.

My depression is at it’s absolute lowest and my anxiety about it is through the roof. I’m already a high risk individual. My boyfriend’s dad is going through some severe medical issues. My cousin just had a baby who I haven’t even met yet. I’m terrified of getting coronavirus, and I’m even more scared of infecting someone else. And given everything else going on with the US none of this is going to go away any time soon.

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Hate to say it but we’ve run out of submissions, and so this might we be the last edition of Sick Days for awhile. Use this Google form or send me an email with the subject line “My Covid Story” if you’d like to get something off your chest and keep this column going. Stay healthy and safe, and thanks for sharing all your stories.

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Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// bgmwrites@gmail.com Keybase: keybase.io/bryangm Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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David E. Davis

I have nearly all my vacation time socked away but my work ethic keeps me from using it. I don’t want to be away from the desk on a day I might really be needed. We’re short staffed and even though I’m my toughest critic, if something pops off and I’m not there, I feel irresponsible for having left. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but I am. There’s also the problem of me being unable to really enjoy a vacation day unless I’m out of the house. Go out and do what where?

My family has made it a point to use earned vacation time and damn the torpedoes. Both of our companies are short staffed (mine especially) but if we burn out from overwork what good are we? We’ve survived on day trips to zoos, hiked in state parks, visited an old trainyard, gone to breweries outdoor areas, taken 3 hour drives to the middle of nowhere and back, walked the beach at off hours, borrowed a friend’s cabin for a long weekend, socially social distanced with friends. Anything we can possibly do outdoors and still stay sane and safe. The cold months will be a challenge but we all have winter clothes so we’ll still see outdoor time.

We aren’t robots and need recreation too.