March 18, 2020

Leading up to my trip, I was a little overwhelmed with the work I had to do for my client as well as trying to finish my new kimono collection. Since I was going to be taking 3 weeks off from my day-in-day-out tasks to focus on quality time with my friends and family back in my hometown, I needed to tie up all the loose threads. Pun intended.

Hastily, I signed up for my Shopify free trial before I was ready to use it. I quickly corrected the predicament by calling them up and explaining my sudden new circumstances, which was a result of the Pandemic. The kind people at Shopify extended the free trial period for a later date understanding my business now hung in the balance. I am a self-employed business owner, heavy emphasis on the ‘self’ employed. Fun-fact: I pretty much do everything for my brand. I design the swimwear, sew the apparel, shoot the photos, and design the website. I like wearing different hats, but I would prefer to outsource all the work and just design. It makes me cringe to no end when I can’t get the look right due to budget constraints. I know what I like and don’t like when I see it, which was the reason I wanted to try Shopify before I committed to the service, a mistake I made with WordPress online shop. WP may work brilliantly for some, but for me, it wasn’t easy enough. And I need it to be easy because I have to do all this on my own.

I planned to build my online shop during my off time while in Toronto. However, due to dire news reports, my priority list changed dramatically. Now before my departure date, I had to take new precautions that would secure my headquarters and my home base. Instinctually I knew this pandemic was going to have dire repercussions to my business. This lock-down was inevitable, so I tried to troubleshoot as best I could.

As a result of taking these precautions, it didn’t have the time to shoot my finished designs and the latest swimwear. That was not my priority, rather getting to Toronto without contracting this mother fucking virus (MFV) was.

My WestJet Flight

I went to the Shake Shack inside LAX to wait for my flight, even though I packed a lunch. It didn’t seem wise to have anyone touch my food at this time. It’s my opinion, that there is still a myriad of different ways to contract this virus within the parameters the CDC gives us, and it is my prerogative to be overly cautious about protecting my space. Until more facts are revealed, I believe we should all be responsible for our actions on how we protect our own health and be realistic enough to know that no one is perfect with their efforts for sanitary regulations.

I ordered bottled water from Shake Shack which I cleaned thoroughly with my alcohol wipes. I had two and a half hours to kill as check-in was a breeze. LAX traffic had decreased dramatically after news reports discouraged flying into Cali, as it was seen as a hot spot. I thought I was going to be able to upgrade to 1st class but was surprised to learn that my flight was fully booked. Turns out Trudeau’s request to Canadians to return now was taken seriously.

I ordered bottled water from Shake Shack which I cleaned thoroughly with my alcohol wipes.’

As I sat there looking at the people in the restaurant, I couldn’t help notice how people had or had not changed their public habits. I wondered, was I being an over-cautious weirdo? I took out my wipes and cleaned my chair and my tabletop. Then I noticed two Latina ladies, both over 55 years olds wearing gloves and aprons cleaning the tables every 45 minutes. I didn’t notice anyone else wipe their bottles down, let alone their wrapped burgers or utensils. I looked at the line-up and saw how people were touching their faces trying to figure out what they were going to order than going into their wallets and pulling out their money. Then, I felt a cough building up inside my throat, probably because I was wearing a mask and the oxygen was dry – since I didn’t have a cold. As it started tickling my throat, I tried to suppress it out of respect for the people around me. I didn’t want to scare anyone. As I swallowed excessively, the man next to me coughed. He coughed like he didn’t even realize he was coughing. He didn’t cover his mouth in any way. He was on the phone speaking French like a Quebecois and coughed in between sentences. I assumed he was Canadian and probably flying back there. I shimmied over on my seat to put more distance between us all the while giving him a dirty look above my mask. I only hoped this asshole wasn’t on my flight.

Before I left the restaurant for the departure gate, I looked at all the people in there. At least one person had the virus, I assumed. Who was it? Could it be one person in the family of 4 eating who was sitting in front of me? None of them were wearing masks and lived their lives like this pandemic was just a hoax. Or was it one of the Latina ladies who probably took the bus into work that day? Or was it this man next to me, coughing in every direction and who looked he was getting hotter as he took off layers of clothing. It was at this moment I prayed for them all and decided I wouldn’t judge these people, but instead, try my best to keep a sunny disposition. I pledged I would offer help to people if they needed it, especially if I could perform the act safely. I’d offer humor to de-escalate any situation that would arise. I was going to talk calmly and in a soothing tone. And most importantly, I was going to smile, knowing everything would be okay.

The truth was we were all scared in our way. The more I behaved calmly – the easier it was going to be. I wasn’t going to fight any rule of hygiene, but instead, yield to all the new rules without questioning them. I was going to participate in every way that I could, even if it wasn’t for my benefit. I was not going to stress out about wait times because what was the point in getting all riled up? There was no way around wait times. I was going to stay in my seat, keep my mask on, and keep my ship tight.

The couple next to me on the plane were also wearing masks. They told me that they had gone to LA for a funeral and were returning home. Both were over 60 years old. As we sat down, we took a wipe the flight attendant had offered us to clean our personal space. They reassured us they had cleaned the plane before us boarding, but knew some of us would feel better if we did it for ourselves. Luckily I was with them and not the drunk lady hanging out by the toilets, chatting up the crew and people in line. She was telling everyone why she had to leave her big ranch in California to go back to Canada as if this was a compelling story. She wasn’t wearing a mask and was leaning all over the attendant’s work area, touching the counters to keep her balance.

I remembered my pledge and looked out the window, down to the mountains and canyons, the deserts, and later the snowy farmland fields. Flying over Lake Michigan, I said goodbye to America. I felt so relieved to be leaving the U.S. and going to Canada. For if shit hit the fan, I really would be ok, because there I have healthcare.

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