2020: A Prolonged Twilight Zone Episode

Swiping through all of the photographs that I've taken on my phone since the pandemic started in March 2020 reinforces the fear, anger and sadness that has enveloped me these past nine months.

I first became aware of COVID-19 the previous February when one of my library patrons had to quarantine for two weeks. She, along with her entire church congregation, was told to stay home for two weeks when their minister was diagnosed with the virus. On two occasions I shopped and delivered groceries to her house. I thought that at the end of her two weeks, that would be the end of people having to isolate themselves due to possible exposure.

By St. Patrick's day all of the restaurants in downtown Silver Spring, MD were closed and the streets, normally gridlocked with AM and PM rush hour traffic, were empty. Reports of food shortages were being reported and I soon found myself standing in line, in the dark, at 5:00 am when my local grocery store opened. My fear was palpable during these grocery runs as the majority of people were not wearing masks even though I wore one (a years-old dust mask from an old home renovation project).

My library shut down for ten weeks and I was incredibly fortunate and grateful that I never missed a paycheck. When we reopened on a partial basis (named "Takeout") I was still not able to interact with patrons due to the nature of my job classification. All reference questions had to be done "virtually" (via phone or email), an incredibly time-consuming and difficult endeavor that we are still doing in November and will most certainly be doing into well into next year.

The year 2020 has felt like a long "Twilight Zone" episode yet I feel really blessed. I never lost my job, I nor my spouse has gotten sick and I have no one close to us has. Yet, the realization that almost 300,000 of my fellow Americans have succumbed to this terrible illness has left me feeling deeply depressed.