Tales from the End of the Road; Living through COVID19 in Key West Part 3

March 29, 2020:

Quarantine Day 12:

Ok, dear journal. Thus far, I’ve been able to update you about some of the more “thrilling” day-to-day goings-on here in the Florida Keys, but I have to admit that I woke up today not even knowing what day it was. Every morning, so many snippets of information come across my Facebook feed, or the various news applications on my phone, and it’s up to me to filter through them and decipher between what is real and what is a rumor. Today was the first time during this whole thing when I opened my eyes, sifted through the plethora of baloney on my newsfeed, and decided that I wasn’t going to make it my life’s effort to Erin Brockovich this situation. I do not know the answers. I am no longer trying to find the answers. It’s too exhausting.

March 30, 2020:

Quarantine Day 13:

Today, I picked up the final check from my restaurant job and was told to apply for unemployment as soon as possible, because the Florida jobs website was struggling under the pressure of an ever-growing number of applicants filing for assistance every single day as this pandemic continues.

I logged on to the website and was ceremoniously kicked off. No problem; everyone and their mother was trying to access this server that had never, ever seen an influx of traffic like this before. So, I tried again. And again. And again… again… again… and so on, and so forth.

Finally, I had refreshed the website so many times that it sent me to a page I will forever call the “Screen of Death,” if you had to give it a name. It was a bright white screen with one succinct sentence: “The login credentials you have entered could not be verified. Please contact [the worst unemployment office south of the Mason-Dixon Line] regarding access to your account.

I’ve tried 87 times today.

March 31, 2020:

Quarantine Day 14:

Another day, another sunrise, another day to be grateful. We’ve made contact with our landlord, and he is giving us a break on rent. I understand that some people are not as fortunate, and I feel so very blessed to have a small weight lifted off my shoulders.

Tried calling the unemployment offices again today. I made 131 calls over the course of a few hours. I have to give them credit, because half the time, they just kick me right back off the call, and I don’t have to waste 15 seconds listening to the bullshit line, “All lines are busy and we are not able to offer a call-back option at this time. Please see our website….yadda yadda yadda.” Shout out to the Florida Unemployment Office call-back center: thank you for not putting elevator music in the background while I make close to 200 calls a day. It interrupts me while I’m watching the “Tiger King” on Netflix. Also, shoutout to Florida for not being the only state involved in a weird-ass Netflix series about seriously delusional people. Bless your heart.

April 1, 2020:

Quarantine Day 15:

Today is April Fool’s Day. In lieu of a blog post about nothing, I present to you a haiku dedicated to toilet paper, because the lack thereof is still a thing (I’ve outsourced this specific task to Jenni, because she has nothing better to do):

“Toilet paper poor

Bidet on the horizon

Oh please no not that”

April 2, 2020:

Quarantine Day 16:

I laughed as I typed “Day 16.” I feel like every day is both the longest day and the shortest day of my life.

Today, I made 167 calls to unemployment to verify my identity. Jenni still hasn’t heard back from when she made her claim a couple weeks ago, when there were roughly 6,000 Floridian applicants accessing this particular resource. This week, that number jumped to almost a QUARTER OF A MILLION.

That’s basically all I did today. Oh, I also watched “American Crime Story: The People Vs. OJ Simpson.” He totally did it. I’ll probably armchair-solve this case before I actually talk to a human representative at the Florida Unemployment Office.

April 3, 2020:

Quarantine Day 17:

When Jules (my foretelling foremother) told me to stock up on masks weeks ago (or months, or years, not sure anymore), I shrugged it off as her being a helicopter parent. I’ve also mentioned that I should’ve listened to her. I did nothing of the sort, and so I ran to Amazon a few weeks ago to find, of course, there were NO supplies available. Screw the toilet paper; now, I don’t even have the basic tools to ward off some baby boomer coughing in my face (no offense, boomers, but you guys REALLY don’t know how to cover your mouths when you cough. Maybe it’s a generational thing. It’s probably not your fault, you were just raised that way).

I digress.

While medical supplies are hard to come by during this pandemic, people considered “essential workers” have to continue on with their jobs amidst this terrifying and invisible virus,  often without the necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) they should normally be afforded. How ridiculous is that? The ONLY people still allowed to provide the services you need every single day cannot protect themselves against the very people they are told to serve. At the same time, we regular civilians are told that we need to be going out in our own PPE. I don’t even know how to MacGyver a tin-can telephone with some string.

Do you know why Key West is AWESOME? The out-of-work drag queens from this island’s top cabarets are accepting fabric donations and making HUNDREDS of free masks to any local who needs protection. I ordered mine today. I can’t wait to finally go about my essential errands looking like a bank robber, AND saving the world (or flattening the curve) at the same damn time.

April 4, 2020

Quarantine Day 18:

I had my first run-in with a vigilante neighborhood patrol witch. I was walking a friend’s dog near my house and a woman I’ve seen hundreds of times stopped me and berated me for information on where I was from, where I am currently living, and how long I’ve lived here for. I was so confused, and she became more irate as I didn’t answer her questions quickly enough.

“All I’m saying is that I’ve lived here for four years, and I’ve NEVER seen you before.”

Well, ma’am, I’ve been here for six years. Welcome to the island, Patrol Patty.

LBB Lauryn Lucy Brooke is a bartender who lives in Key West, Florida. Her favorite activities used to be traveling, scuba diving, and hanging out with friends. None of which she can do now.  Lauryn has a Masters Degree in Journalism from CUNY.