May 2020

Random Rants: Behind the Mask

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By Salomon Maya

We’ve all seen them; the endless Covid-19 TV commercials. The same voiceover actor reminding us that “we will be okay,” with comforting piano music playing in the background.

I’ve been working in advertising since 2013 and have won awards for producing and writing those very same types of commercials, but even I have to say that I don’t want to see that right now.

Over the past weeks of quarantine, I have several polarizing events. Communities coming together, while others were tearing the very fabric of what makes us humans apart. It’s the latter that I want to address. There are men and women yelling at authorities for doing their jobs; creating an invisible government “boogie man,” hellbent on removing freedoms. And for what?

Some people just question things they can’t see, feel, or touch. The very intangibility of coronavirus makes it, for many groups, hard to understand and navigate. So, if this is you, here is my story.

Recently, I interviewed a woman by the name of Viviana. I’m a morning show producer, but since we’ve had furloughs on our team, I stepped up and put on my journalist’s hat. Viviana is an ICU nurse for a local hospital and has been on the job an entire six months. Yup. That’s right. Just six months. She had just graduated nursing school and got thrown into this pandemic.

She told me how she had three dedicated patients all the time. Never more. Never less. Three. When one recovers, there is another patient with coronavirus to take their place. If one of her patients expires, there is always another one.

Viviana’s bright brown eyes filled with glee when I asked her what she felt by the community outreach. I could barely make out her words behind her surgical mask, but she said it’s been amazing to see such help from random strangers. And then I asked her what she would say to the people who don’t believe in this virus. Or what she would tell someone who believes it’s all a hoax or simply, the flu blown out of proportion.

She paused. And then looked me straight in the eyes and said, “it’s not fake.”

She didn’t say anything else except for thank you and walked away. I didn’t want to ask a follow up question or try to get details. Her eyes told me the entire story. Every patient lost. Every grieving family member. Every intubation. Every stolen breath. I feel like she saw all of them in one instant.

You might not believe in this 100 percent. And it’s your choice. You might miss your manicurist, or your favorite sit-down restaurant. You might want to visit your theatre seats. But you can’t have that right now. And you have to be okay with that. Not for your sake, sorry. But for Viviana’s and the countless medical professionals putting their lives on the line for us.

Put on a mask. Stay home if you can. Create new bonds with the people around you. Cook better food. Cook it together. Play board games. Listen to the radio. Create radio playlists. Drive and watch the ocean from your car window. We will get through this.

 

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