COVID-19 (Review & Commentary)
Transcribed directly from an audio recording
Within five days, the entirety of my March and April events were wiped out. I had a spring trip planned for Palm Springs, California and was planning to attend The Indian Well Tennis Tournament, Disneyland, Hollywood, and other attractions during my visit. Just before I was scheduled to leave, I had tickets for Steel Panther and Monster Jam. Once I returned from California, I had tickets for The Rolling Stones, Jeff Dunham, and Joe Rogan as well as a plethora of film premieres to attend. Spring and summer blockbusters like No Time To Die, F9, etc. Basically, my entire schedule of events for the foreseeable future were postponed or cancelled altogether. The ironic thing about all of these cancellations and the recent mandates to stay home and away from people is the fact that I’ve been basically in social distancing mode for nearly six weeks in anticipation for the trip to California and the fact that I just returned from an epic trip from Las Vegas several weeks ago. In context, the Las Vegas trip was legendary, to say the least. I dined at some of the best restaurants available and I also attended several concerts and entertainment events and even met the stars of each show and was a participant in the shows. I’ve lived in Las Vegas twice for longer durations and have visited Las Vegas close to fifty times, but this trip, in particular, I doubt will ever be duplicated. It’s interesting to think that while I was on that trip a few weeks ago, I didn’t, at all, foresee what life would be like today in any way. At the time, I was thinking about and preparing for my next epic trip which was to be my Californian adventure as well as my spring and summer calendar of events. Ironically enough, for the past several weeks, I’ve had this odd feeling inside that something would go wrong with my upcoming vacation. I have been trying hard to not get sick or to have any interference with the trip, such as bad weather, flight delays, etc. With all that said, the first email I received was on Tuesday last week explaining that the tournament was cancelled due to fears related to COVID-19. Still, I thought, there’s enough to do and my flights and other events wouldn’t be cancelled. How wrong I was. Within, what felt like an instant, life stopped and just a week later, everything has been cancelled, international travel has been banned and society has been encouraged to stay home at all costs. Any concern or thought I had previously about bad weather, etc. mean absolutely nothing today. My thoughts and actions are now concentrated on health and how to make the best of this tense time in self-isolation.
I went from disappointment, to frustration, to acceptance, to now simply understanding the scope of the situation and the massive effects this has on not only our way of life, but how we prioritize life and how we quantify what’s important. I am fortunate enough to work from home so, in the meantime, I’m still able to collect a paycheque. I’ve been working virtually for nearly eight years, so ultimately, other than an inconvenience to my travel plans and my array of spring and summer events, these mandates are actually aligned with day-to-day lifestyle over the past half-decade or longer.
The thoughts I have on this situation are these:
1. As a society, we need to seriously consider what we deem as important and what is a priority in our lives. If health and financial stability aren’t at the top of people’s list at the end of all this, I’ll be concerned and baffled.
2. Services such as airlines, ticket merchants, and other event brokers need to be more prepared for an event such as this. The most disappointing thing about all of my aforementioned cancellations is the fact that all the merchants I purchased from were severely underprepared for an event like this. My airline of choice didn’t have the capability to change or cancel flights online and their main support line was busy for days. The suggested wait time online to get through to an agent on the phone was literally three hundred hours plus. You simply couldn’t get through as the line went to a busy signal. I was literally forced to go to the airport to speak to the airline staff as my flight was within a few hours. Naturally, they were unable to get through either or provide any additional options for me. Bottom line, airlines need to be prepared with online self-help tools or at the very least, communications on what to do when something like this happens. People spend thousands of dollars on these flights and money is a concern for many out there. For the ticket merchants, the same thing happened with them as well. You couldn’t reach anyone by phone as the line was busy and couldn’t cancel or get refunds online. Some events even postponed their events six months in the future which gave them a clause to get out of refunds because technically the event wasn’t cancelled. In summary, I am still waiting to get a refund for my flights and all of my events and at this rate, I don’t think I’ll be getting one for weeks, if not months. There is probably close to five to ten thousand dollars out there waiting to return to my account. I’ll be fine in the meantime, but thousands of people paid good money for events or flights and they need to see refunds a lot quicker. I totally understand that this was not the fault of the airlines or the merchants. What I am saying though, is that companies need to be better prepared for situations like this. People need their money back, especially when some cannot work due to this pandemic.
3. This hoarding situation is horrendous. What needs to be said here? Nothing. Stop hoarding packages of toilet paper or turning this crisis into a chance to make money selling goods from Costco. Get a grip. As a side note for context, because I was planning to be out of town for a month, my fridge and pantry were empty. I also needed toilet paper as well. I went out to the major stores and had to go to four of them just to get a single package of toilet paper and essential items and oh yes, the toilet paper cost me in excess of fifty dollars.
Bottom line, stay home. I don’t care if you’re healthy or symptom-free. Stay home and together, let’s all do our part. Just today I was on Instagram and I’m seeing videos of people on patios enjoying beers in groups. Are you f&*ing stupid or maybe you just don’t get that everyone needs to chip in. It’s like a meeting. If you’re late, we all get delayed and the meeting goes later than expected. This is the same situation. The quicker you can get yourself inside and practice social distancing, hopefully, the quicker we can get back to “normal” life. I’m glad some governments, including my own, have stepped up to provide financial relief to those in need, etc. It’s amazing that two weeks ago, the political debates, and Harvey Weinstein were eating up the news and my thoughts were solely focused on my plans for an epic summer. Now, all that seems irrelevant, as the only topic that’s worth news coverage seems to be COVID-19. Stay safe, do your part, and let’s get everything back to normal as soon as possible.