Sunday, May 10, 2020

Pandemic Atlanta Lockdown - Week 8

Front entrance blocked
Weeks are going fast with work, and weekends are going faster! Weekdays, I wake up early 6 - 7 a.m, have my coffee and oats, put on proper clothes, then go to my work desk in the living room. Although I like to stop working at 4:45 pm, nowadays, I end up working longer. I also had some deadlines, and so that is expected. Last Thursday night I slept at 3 a.m. (literally it was Friday already when I went to sleep past midnight), as I was busy trying to finish my work before a call on Friday morning.

Walmart and the price gouging third-party

I managed to return and get the refund of the overpriced (priced at 5X the usual price) water filter replacement from Walmart. Although Walmart mentioned I could send it for free from USPS or FedEx, USPS told me that only FedEx will accept it for free. USPS would require me to pay 9.90$. Not only that. Using USPS would slow down my refund as Walmart refunds when the return barcode is scanned by FedEx. I left a 1-* review, complaining about the price-gouging. Several days have passed and my review has not been approved. Apparently, even if you are cheated you cannot be too harsh and too open about the scam in the reviews. But fake positive reviews are tolerated and often are the norm. It sucks. But that's how it is. Amazon and TripAdvisor are no different either.

Public Transport in Atlanta Now

Not all the seats are for sitting
I took the MARTA bus to go to the post office (and then walked to the nearby FedEx drop-off box). The bus had notes asking people not to sit next to each other. Basically, every other seat had stickers stating, "Do not sit here." Also, everyone enters and exits through the middle door. The driver seat and the front door are blocked. We do not have to pay for the bus fare. Only the metro fair must be paid if you take the underground.

The Non-Linear Memory

Memories are weird. I don't know whether it is common for everyone or just me. I have a "non-linear memory." I remember some events more than others more vividly - and the events that I remember clearer feel like that happened more recently than they actually are. This pandemic is messing me up even more. I feel like the 3 months of 2020 Mid February - Mid May has been a decade. Every country talks about how its citizens are their utmost priority. We, foreigners in temporary visas, are the bottomfeeders. With International travels halted and hiring freezes, switching countries or companies have become an impossible task too. Add the social distancing and the fate of living alone due to circumstances. This has become a nightmare, without exaggeration. Everyone is yearning for when they will be able to get back to normal. Then again the fear of second waves when the countries open up. Now there are studies that the pandemic may go on for 36 months! Initially, the number was 18 months. Is this pandemic here to stay, just like the AIDS pandemic?

My apartment community and an idiot

Bali, Indonesia - 2020 February
Apart from the post office visit to drop my overpriced water-filter replacement, I haven't gone out for 2 months now. The only time I go out of my apartment is just to throw trash and check my mail. This time when I went to check the mail, an idiot was standing in front of the mailroom, nearly blocking the entrance, without masks, checking his mobile. After some time, he started to cough vigorously into his elbow as I was collecting my mail. Come on. If you are coughing, why not wear a mask, and why stay at the entrance of the mailroom where people will inevitably come to get the mail? Are you trying to spread your disease, perhaps COVID-19, to as many people as possible? I got my mail and ran as quick as possible without making eye contact. I am sure this pandemic is going to turn everyone into anti-socials. Some people deny the severity of the pandemic, while the others get grumpy of everyone else and consider everyone a viral threat.

Far away land

Singapore - 2020 February
Staying away from the homeland is hard for many. When I moved to Portugal in 2012, I quickly made a group of friends and then made a family while living there, making Portugal my second home. I also had a great Ph.D. advisor who was a wonderful mentor. Although we moved across countries, I still miss that feeling and life in Portugal. Especially, Atlanta is not such a place as Lisboa where I have had many friends and loving memories. But at least I was with family and surrounded by people wherever I went, even in Atlanta. Before the pandemic, no distance was too far for me. Of course, I had to apply for visas and stuff, holding one of the weakest passports in the world. But that did not make me feel down or weak. But the pandemic has hit hard, and that too to face it alone. Not entirely sure what is next and what to expect next as the pandemic life has become the new normal.

Be nice to everyone

Doha, Qatar - 2020 February
Mood swings are quite the norm nowadays. I am an extrovert who loves to travel, interact with people, and roam around. The pandemic has changed it. This week also opened to some bad news for one of my friends. Moreover, the question in me grows stronger - what I achieve these days. The meaning of life. I don't think staying home alone doing little software edits or maintaining software is my purpose in life. But again, first responders and medical staff are losing their lives fighting this deadly pandemic. We do our best to not give them more workload by being careless and go out aimlessly. I ask everyone to be nice to everyone. Several of us are indeed alone in this, despite the slogan, "You are not alone in this." As for now, even 2021 remains a huge question mark -- with visa complexities and the potential need for yet another migration. But at least we can hope this won't last forever.
Meaning of life

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