The routine was simple. I’d wake up and open the team’s Trello board, read through the week’s content. I’d open my Photoshop, look through our Telegram group chat, and start on our headers. Some days, I’d work on my pitches and pending articles — I usually can’t start anything without a good lede. In between the tabs of Google Image search, my email would be waiting for commissioned art and article comments. Save as optimized PNG, upload on Trello, send a heads up on Telegram: this has been what it’s like during quarantine. And really, most days back then when we didn’t have to cover anything. This, in its most simplified form, was what my hours looked like.
And very soon, my hours won’t have anything about work at all.
Getting laid off during the pandemic isn’t anything new; I’m not the only one who lost a job when they needed it most. This was something happening on the daily, most of the time to people who need more than I do. The gig-culture was first to go, freelancers losing projects and income. Small and medium enterprises are walking on thin ice: everyone not protected by a union, or by a safety net, is. There isn’t anything novel too about a publication folding up, too. I was working for the digital section of a broadsheet’s youth section — surely the paper will keep its online space? Our readership’s the younger generation, who, for the most part, you wouldn’t find reading the hard page: they’re scrolling through Instagram, looking at tweets. I thought we would be safe.
There’s a lot at play here: companies having to streamline, making cuts here and there because of this time. The way it goes with big companies though, more often than not, it’s the little guys they let go first. In this world, as I learned, it’s not enough to have good, even great, work — it’s also important for it to be profitable. We lived in a reality driven by capitalism, of course, money was the end goal regardless of how it got there. We’re staying at home, the lucky ones at the very least, but the bills will still wait for us when — and if — this ends. Mouths to feed, essentials to keep, how does one pay when there’s nothing to give? There’s a pandemic, we’re away from loved ones, and we don’t have income. We didn’t need added grief.
Mouths to feed, essentials to keep, how does one pay when there’s nothing to give? There’s a pandemic, we’re away from loved ones, and we don’t have income. We didn’t need added grief.
There’s so much anger in me. How could you let people go in the middle of a pandemic? It’s not like job openings are these day’s hot commodities. I think of the people who aren’t lucky as I am, workers that have a lot more bills to pay, a family to support, and I get even more livid. Companies rake in millions in profit, bigshot CEOs earning more than they could ever spend — surely they can support their own employees this time. The government believes they’re doing enough for those reduced to an unemployed statistic, and they’re absolutely incorrect.
I’m still living in lockdown, sending out job applications, and scouring the internet for openings. I’m only considering corporate jobs this time around. It’s cruel how life works these days: the possibility that there might come a day I’ll have to decide whether something will have to go, lingering at the back of my mind.
We’re off to our last few articles. Our Trello board is at a standstill, as we are. I’m waiting for art for a piece about the new normal, and I was thinking of asking people what that meant for them — I won’t get to make that piece anymore. In a time of government inadequacy, job security needed for everyone more than ever, worrying about a forever-extending quarantine, things that deeply needed to be written about to start a conversation, it was our corner of the internet that took the next blow. I check again for job openings.
I didn’t think this would be the new normal at all.