Unemployed During a Pandemic

A few weeks ago, I was living my normal life. I dropped my baby off at daycare, headed to work and did my normal routine. I work for a local retail store, so some days are better than others. This particular weekend was not the same. It was slower than usual, customers coming in with masks and gloves on because of the talk that our state had its first case of COVID-19.

That’s when reality kicked in.

To go back a few days ago, my co-workers and I were talking about this virus that was affecting the country and what would happen if it was to come into our backyard. Not really thinking how much of an impact this would have on all of us.

We didn’t know that a week later we would be out of a job without any word of when this would end. As the owner tried her hardest to keep the safety of her staff and her customers in mind, we first received notice that the store hours would be shortened, which means shorter hours for the workers.  Being that I work part-time (for many reasons) this hit me hard. Then, not even three days later, I received an email stated that the doors will be closing.

Unprepared for the Unknown

It’s been three weeks since the closing of the store. Three weeks not working or receiving pay, three weeks of trying not to break down, wondering how I’m going to manage to feed my daughter because, let’s be real, we never thought something like this would ever happen. So, I was not prepared. No savings, nothing!

But, fortunate enough, the state offered my job as well as many others the opportunity to apply for unemployment.  That’s the hope I needed. But as the days go on after submitting my application, I still have yet to receive anything, and it has been very difficult to get in touch with someone in the office due to the high volume of applications they have to go through.

It’s stressful to think about the uncertainty that will come out of all for this but I’m trying to stay positive.

I know there are options for me like to find another job because a lot of places that are considered essential stores are still open, but I’m afraid to work for those places because we just never know. I’m currently looking for remote jobs but applying for jobs and having a very active 18-month-old is a very big challenge.  So, I can just imagine what it’ll be when I do start working from home.  Hey, I’m a new mom here, so I still get in my head sometimes, don’t judge.

I am hoping that when this is all over, I will be able to gain the strength that I’m looking for during this time, but as of now, I’m honestly not ok.  I know we will get through this, I just need to find the mindset to actually feel confident enough to keep going.

I can’t speak for everyone, and I see that as a collective the world is coming together, but this is a very hard time and we are all working are best to stay afloat, mentally and physically. So let’s keep it up and stay safe.

Ja'Nae Lewis
Ja’Nae was born in Houma and raised on the outskirts of New Orleans known as the Westbank, where she still resides. She’s currently dating her boyfriend of 3 years and together they raise their daughter A’nylah. After attending Jackson State University, she moved back to New Orleans and then earned her master’s at Full Sail University in Public Relations, she currently works part-time at a local Bra Boutique where she enjoys helping women feel good about themselves. In her free times, she’s looking for the latest fashion trends, working out, learning how to organize her life, relaxing by enjoying a good movie or series and finding fun things to do with her new family.

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