It's one thing we can all agree on as a society, nationally and internationally, that 2020 sucked. It was a year when so many changes had to be made to the daily routine - if there was one left - changes that had to be made to adapt, to survive. There were certainly changes I had to make and adjust to in order to go about my day without the impending cloud of anxiety completely taking over my mental state and day overall. However, as young as I am in comparison, nothing I have ever learned in life could have prepared me for what I've been through thus far. And hopefully, my experiences and story can resonate with others out there and reassure that we're all not alone in this change, in this adaptation, in this survival of life.
Buckle up because it's about to get unpredictable.
I had moved to my first apartment in December of 2019 and had graduated college early that spring. I had my degree; I had a new "big girl" job that I had moved two hours away from my friends and family for; I was in a position where it felt like I was starting to make a life for myself. Granted, the apartment is only 300 square feet with one window, and my bed is, unfortunately, a few feet from my stove. Still, for the price I'm paying a month versus where it is compared to social activities, grocery stores, etc., it's perfect, and it was exactly what I needed to get me out of my hometown and into a new chapter of my life. I could definitely get past the occasional roach and consistent thrumming of drums and music from a couple of doors down. Easy peasy.
I learned pretty quickly, however, that the new job left much to be desired.
It was two days after I had moved that I started that new job. It was a company that my mom also worked for, herself in a different branch closer to home, and it was initially anticipated that this position would be one I'd definitely grow into. I had her if I needed help on something, being that she works the same position I had been hired for in my location, and my coworkers were decent people even after the first day on the job: day one, however, and no training.
I was warned about the woman who was going to be training me. Warned by my mom, her coworkers, my own coworkers, everyone had the same opinions about this woman. She was older and had been with the company for years. Many joked she'd been there since the founding. Still, she worked in a very - in my opinion - mundane position as the "manager" of the program that the company used for stock, invoicing, and the main library for all the company's customer information. How she was in charge of training people who were coming in for branch management positions, I have no idea, but I tried my best to keep an open mind about her.
No matter how open I could have kept my mind, nothing would have prepared me for the chip on her shoulder she had against me.
To clarify, my mom did not help to get me the position I had been hired for in the company. She had simply given the hiring manager my phone number, and the rest was all me. But, because this woman who "trained" me was apparently under the impression that I was hired because of my mom and because I was her daughter looking for work after college, she had it in her head that she had to treat me differently. That and being one of the youngest in the company didn't help my situation either.
Now, I am in no way trying to be biased against this woman, but after three months of working at this job, I still didn't know anything, and my review was suffering because of it. I was starting to have many regrets about taking this job position. Especially with each day she was coming in to train me consisted of her sitting next to me, doing all the work and passing things to me now and then like I was her secretary. Of course, the cherry on top of this experience was when I had asked her to actually explain and show me the process of the things she was just handing me and telling me what to do rather than explaining. To which she responded with, "Oh, that's right. I guess I have to consider that when working with people like you."
I know, right?!
The voice you probably read that in is the exact voice she said that with. The most condescending tone, and I was just worried about really not being trained for the management position of an entire branch that I was hired for! Regardless, in the end, she ended up dropping her responsibility of training me as another unfortunate series of events took place - involving her reading my email inbox and emails being sent between my mom and I about my concern about her not training me correctly - and my mom was actually the one to replace her and started traveling to train me.
At this point, I had settled into a pretty decent routine of this new job and moving into my new space. I was finding that the apartment complex wasn't the best, but it was something. It had its shortcomings, and they needed to invest in new washers as there were at least always one or two of the five washers in the laundry area that didn't work. But, I had to count my blessings and understand that this space was only for the short-term. Once I settled into the area and this job more, once I could afford a better place, I would move to a better place.
March of 2020, however, was where I remember things becoming a little uncertain. This was when the number of Covid-19 cases in my area started to skyrocket. Having a chronic respiratory condition where I now take medication daily for it, the progression of the pandemic started to get really scary and real around this time. The weeks before the end of March, my company had also been "letting people go" or furloughing everyone as we started to lose business. Our customers were closing, companies that relied on us were closing or moving strictly to remote. Whereas with my company at that point, it was almost impossible for a majority of employees to go remote. All of our daily equipment to do our jobs was onsite only; my work depended on that program the company used that was exclusively on my desktop at work.
It was March 27th, 2020. There were two of us left at my location, where everyone else had been furloughed. It was around one in the afternoon when the two of us got the call; we were being furloughed.
I had just turned 23 at that point, and I had no idea what would happen or what I needed to do. Nothing I had learned so far in life would have prepared me for that moment where I had to come to the realization I needed to file for unemployment, where I needed to quarantine and wear a mask everywhere I went. I needed to budget myself to afford rent, groceries, laundry, and utilities without a steady income. Never had I felt so unprepared, so alone, and unsure of what would come in the following months. Looking back on it now as I write this, that was probably the most simple point in the past year and a half.
Seven months had passed, and each day went with the hope I would be called back to work.
I would visit my parents pretty much every weekend. The company was longed for as living in 300 square feet of space with two guinea pigs wasn't cutting it. Still wearing masks everywhere, we were careful to avoid potentially crowded areas; I wouldn't visit if any of us were feeling sick; in general, I at least had the opportunity to be with my family during last year and during those few uncertain months. Still, during this pandemic and experiencing it where your employment is affected, your income is affected, your mental health is affected, it's hard to talk about it with generations who claim they've been through worse. But this is the worse I've been through in my life so far. Losing a job at so young while living in the first apartment I've ever rented, the first time I have lived alone. And within the first three months of this new chapter, life decides to throw the biggest plot twist. The only thing is that it didn't end there.
It was around July - August 2020 - after I had just recently been dumped from the relationship I had been in - when I received the news that I might not be called back to my job. The company was still very uncertain of its state when it came to calling people to work. It got to the point where they only had around one to two people back at each branch; for my mom, she was fortunately not furloughed but was by herself for a good few months. However, I concluded that I needed to start looking for a new job as I couldn't afford to live off of unemployment anymore, thus starting the frantic search for a new job.
I actually hadn't applied to too many places before the next unfortunate event happened. This was probably only the 5th place I had applied to, and was asked if I would be interested in an interview. Of course, I said yes. This company was a b-to-b agency hiring for a remote Graphic Designer that I had initially found on LinkedIn and appeared legit down to the interview questions. I had found it a little odd that I had not physically spoken to anyone outside of emailing and google chat, but I figured with the pandemic, they were trying to reduce the in-person contact. Within a few days of answering some interview questions and submitting them, I was offered the position.
To which, of course, I said yes.
After this, a series of events occurred within a week of saying yes to this job offer. To spare this series from getting too long-winded, I'll give a basic summary of what happened.
This job offer was a job scam, and I had not seen any red flags during this series of events because I wasn't even aware that job scams existed. This should at least be mentioned in school, right? Of course not, and I learned all this the hard way.
Because I had taken this job offer, not knowing it was a scam, I had quit the job I was furloughed from. This ended my unemployment benefits.
This job was a remote position that required me to have a home office and to have the appropriate equipment to include in my home office. Again, I was not aware of this being a red flag; they were going to send a check for me to use to get the equipment I needed from a vendor that the company used. After getting this check and depositing it - I had a helluva time as I swear the universe was just throwing everything it could to stop me and I just didn't - I then had to wait for the vendor to drop off the equipment.
They never came.
I was trying to order something from DoorDash when my card was declining. That was when I saw in my account that the check was flagged as counterfeit, and the funds in both my checking and savings had to cover for that counterfeit check. I had no money. Not a penny to my name.
This event eventually turned out ok. My bank was able to help and educate me about the job scam. I was able to stop the money order for the counterfeit check's amount and get all that money back into my accounts. And I called out and cursed out the person I had been talking to about them being a scam as they tried to convince me otherwise. After telling them I was getting the police involved, they eventually stopped contacting me.
But remember, I had quit the job I was furloughed from. At this point, I had no unemployment benefits and still no job.
It was now or never.
After this event, I believe I had applied to around 100 jobs, all relating and not relating to my college degree and experience. I was desperate for anything and everything, even if it wouldn't pay enough for me to buy groceries, as long as it helped pay for rent and utilities. But, after that job scam, nothing was in my favor.
It was now towards the end of September 2020 when I realized that I might have to move back home to my parents. I couldn't afford rent anymore as my savings and checking accounts were both dwindling. There were tears involved as I started packing up my apartment. Not understanding how it hasn't even been a year of me living out on my own, and I was already packing up to move back home. It felt like I was a failure. It made it seem like I just couldn't do this; I couldn't live on my own or handle my finances enough, or be aware of job scams, or know how to live during a pandemic.
But, I also learned from this that I'm nothing but persistent when it comes to what I want for my life.
Even as I was packing, after submitting my 60 days notice to my apartment's property, I kept looking and applying to any hiring position.
And it got to the point where I was literally less than a week away from having to call it quits and move back with my parents, where I got another job offer. This job is the job I still have now, ten months later.
I started my new job. This job where I'm utilizing both my degree and two minors that I had in college. A salaried job with benefits, and 50 cent pretzels every once in a while, and stability. Sweet, sweet stability.
As much as I would like to say the story ends there, it doesn't. From when I was hired until the end of January, life was starting to look up. Granted, what happened towards the end of January wasn't the biggest deal. The car that I owned for seven years was starting to fall apart. The money for the repairs was a slap to the face that I'd be better off getting a new car, so I did.
New job, new car, new opportunities, and a new year.
It turns out that 2021 wasn't going to be my year either.
Apparently, September is still peak hurricane season, and I had been watching Ida as it impacted New Orleans the weekend before it had ventured north to where I was.
We were just expecting a lot of rain. No big deal, the road in front of my apartment complex had flooded the year before; I was there to witness that as well. My car was fine, everyone was fine, we just couldn't go anywhere for the day until the sewer drains cleared and everything drained.
Ida was a tropical depression when it came through my area the evening of September 1st and continued into the night of the 2nd.
It was about 2:45 in the morning of the 2nd when I heard the fire alarm in the hallway of my floor going off. It wasn't a consistent beeping like it usually is - of course, I would be familiar as there's a neighbor on my floor who tends to burn their food a few times a month - but a periodic beeping that was unusual. Once I got out of bed to realize that nothing in my apartment had lost power, i.e., the microwave time not flashing is my usual indication; it was then around 3:15 when there was a commotion in the hall. A maintenance guy was knocking frantically on everyone's doors, trying to get everyone out into the halls so he could make a breathless announcment. These words will forever be burned in my memory:
"Just to let everyone know, the entire property is surrounded by water, the basement complexes are flooded, pretty much everyone's cars are underwater. We need you guys to get a small bag of personal belongings together while we still have power, just in case we need to evacuate you guys."
To be honest, the first thought to come from the cloud of panic was, 'we're on the 5th floor...where are we gonna go?' Luckily, I never got to find out.
It was 4 in the morning when I had finished putting together a small bag and a way to get my guinea pigs in a box as well, just in case. It was 4:15 in the morning when I had called and left a voicemail to my manager that I would not be coming into work, with a few several panicked calls as I tried to my parents with no luck until around 4:45.
8-10 feet of water was blocking the entrance to my apartment complex. About 98% of everyone's cars were underwater and totaled. The basement complexes were completely underwater as well, with those people luckily evacuated in time. The river that my complex sits next to had flooded severely, spilling over to where we were with nowhere for it to go.
You never quite know how to handle a situation or what it will be like until you experience it.
If there's anything this past year and a half has taught me, it's that exactly.
I lost my car, the same car I had gotten seven months prior that was basically new when I had bought it. But, I didn't lose my apartment.
No one in my complex has been able to do laundry, can't throw away trash in the compactor, can't use the elevator, all of which have been with their interworkings in the basement. I have to walk up five flights of stairs now, but at least I have an apartment to go back to. I still have my parent's to do laundry at, and the complex has a massive waste container out front for everyone's trash. I don't have a car, but I'm lucky enough for my mom to loan me hers until I do get a new one.
It's only been a few weeks since the flooding happened. I'm still a little shaken up from the experience, which to me, is understandable. Still don't have a new car as I'm waiting on my insurance company and lender at this point. Now, it's just going day by day.
There were people in New Orleans who lost houses. There were people in the basement of my complex who lost their house, their property, and personal belongings. People have lost their lives and loved ones to Covid. People have lost their jobs and could still be unemployed, still looking and hoping for something.
The night of the 1st of September, when I had gotten in from work and was frantically trying to get inside with the rain coming down in sheets, the basement complexes had sliding screen doors, and there was one woman - who feeds this local tabby cat - and she had the curtain to her door open. I happened to glance in as I was heading inside over the walkway and saw her inside making dinner in the small kitchen all apartments have in my complex. Compared to the dark, cool, and rainy evening, everything looked warm and cozy inside her apartment, persuading me to get into the comfort of my own apartment. Never would I have thought during that night, she would wake up around one in the morning to a foot of water on the ground. That she would be rushed out of her apartment with her own small bag of belongings, that she wouldn't have an apartment to come home to anymore.
Thinking about that makes me realize that I only lost my car out of everything I could have lost, not only from the flooding but also from everything that happened starting January of 2020. Everything I had experienced at such a young age was a sort of "coming of age" for me. I am more aware of people who try to take advantage of me, of scammers, and so on. I am more aware of my financial situation and making sure I have enough for bills, groceries, rent, etc. I am more aware of the weather now and am happy to say that I am moving to a new apartment by the end of this year, which was decided even before the flooding happened!
But, as the photo I used above states "Trust your Struggle", you really have to. Because while it's felt like I've been through it all, I haven't. It's been a literal roller coaster this past year and a half, but that's more experience under my belt, more empathy towards those who have been through rougher waters, who have lost more than myself. That doesn't excuse my own experiences, because what I have gone through has been the worst so far in my life. I'm only 24 for crying out loud.
In the end, it's about perspective. Nothing's really changed this past year and a half. I still have my apartment, I still have a job, I still (will eventually) have a car, I still have my family and friends and guinea pigs. I still have me. I'm just a little wiser, have a different perspective.
And if there are others out there struggling with their own stories and series of unfortunate events, you are not alone. Trust in yourself to make it through to the end of the tunnel. There is light there.
About the Creator
Young, living - thriving? Writing every emotion, idea, or dream that intrigues me enough to put into a long string of words for others to absorb - in the hopes that someone relates, understands, and appreciates.