We’re now entering the third week of our community quarantine, how are you holding up? We’ve only done it for two weeks but it felt like two months already. Here’s how it went for me so far.
While the declaration of a community quarantine for Metro Manila, and eventually the entire island of Luzon, Philippines, didn’t exactly surprise me, I still was caught a bit unprepared when it was implemented a little over two weeks ago. At the time, I was still expecting that I’ll be able to return to the office so I didn’t really think it through if I’ll be leaving behind anything important. And I did.
The First Week
I didn’t really miss anything the first few days. In fact, I was glad to be spending more time at home, not dealing with traffic and what to wear. I already did some grocery shopping a few days earlier to last a few days so I wasn’t too worried.
And then my Fitbit’s battery got low. I then realized that I left my proprietary charging cable in the office! Public transportation is already suspended so I can’t easily get there. Sure, the crazy ultramarathoner in me is willing to walk the more than 20K distance per way, but as I’ll be crossing a few cities along the way and it defeats the intent of the community quarantine, it’s not advisable so I just accepted the fact that I’ll have to go through this ordeal without a tracker—for the first time in years! I don’t expect to log any significant steps but I won’t be able to track my heart rate and sleep quality as well. I hope sure hope that my battery would still charge when this is through.
Panic and Anxiety
Then, the image of people panic buying hit me. I became anxious that a lot of people are hoarding, and I’m not! I don’t cook, don’t have a refrigerator at home, and don’t have a car to haul a lot of things, what am I supposed to do? I’ve never experienced anything like this in my adult life so a slight form of panic started creeping into my head. After all, I have two seniors (my parents) and five dogs to feed in our home. I ended up going to the supermarket that first week, wondering the supermarket isles to find what I think I should buy, to ease my anxiety a bit. It wasn’t that bad then.
Week 2: Got Hacked
The second week started on a very bad note for me. I discovered that my one and only credit card was compromised, and there were already five fraudulent transactions registered! Seriously, evil people will do bad things to others regardless of a pandemic! I was dumbfounded. After all these years of having a credit card, this is my first time that I got hacked. And of all times, it had to happen now.
I tried calling my bank but as they are on skeletal workforce, they only accept lost card reporting (as per recording). There’s no option to report a compromised card. I tried reaching out via Facebook Messenger but they weren’t responsive. I also sent an email but only got an automated response. I felt like I was at the mercy of the hackers.
Fortunately, a friend heard my predicament and referred my situation to someone working with the bank, and I got my credit card blocked. And as we’re still in a lockdown, I’ve no idea when I’ll get a replacement. One less problem, I guess. But for the first time in years, I’d be strictly “cash only.” It’s another source of anxiety as doing your groceries is a challenge in itself, what more if you have to go to the bank first to get cash? Good thing I realized that I can use my ATM for payment (as a debit card) before my next grocery run. I don’t like using it as such as I’ll be typing my pin in public but I have no other choice now. I now remember why I had more credit cards years ago. As for the fraudulent transactions, another one reflected in my final billing statement (my bank is days delayed when showing credit card transactions) so it’s another item on my “to do” list.
Doing the groceries on the second week of the quarantine is a real challenge. For one, only those that have a quarantine pass (only one per household) should do it; two, supermarkets only allow a few people to enter at a time to enforce physical distancing; and three, available items have become very, very limited. I think I got lucky with my grocery runs so far as the longest I stayed in line to enter a supermarket was “just” an hour and I was seated inside, and queued for payment for about the same duration so around three hours overall. In much more dense areas, I’ve heard of four hours or more just to enter the premises! As someone who has a short attention span, this is a challenge but there’s always social media to help pass the time. I had much less anxiety when shopping despite seeing some panic buyers around me, but I felt frustrated that I can’t buy the things I wanted because they’re sold out, and the remaining options were severely limited. I’ve not seen a single drop of isopropyl alcohol and disinfectant spray in two weeks now.
Week 3: Hope
As we enter the third week, I can only hope that things start getting better. I realize that this will not be true as per the number of new COVID-19 cases as our testing capacity increases, but at the very least our quality of life—what remains of it for the mean time at least. I’m scheduled to go on another grocery run this week and I hope I don’t spend too much time queuing, and catch new deliveries, especially alcohol and disinfectant sprays. To be honest, I don’t look forward to going out as I risk introducing the virus in our home. But as I don’t have a car and have to walk a kilometer or so to the store, I can only bring so much and have no choice when our food stocks run low. I feel like I’m playing Russian Roulette whenever I get out. The only thing silver lining when I do it is I get a chance to walk, get some sun, and have an exercise of sort.
I hope all our sacrifices are working so that we can get this over with soon. I hope more people get tested and get care quickly. And I hope our frontliners get the support and equipment that they need. Let’s all do our part, please!
* * *