Commuter Diaries: The Things I Never Thought I'd Miss From the ‘Old Normal’
by Anne Marielle Eugenio, June 02, 2020 3:43pm
Art by Ahl Mirambel
Imagine commuting to and from work for years then all of a sudden, the government ordered a lockdown. In one snap of a finger, I was “robbed” of my usual routine. I took it as a break from commuting. Thank God, I still have the privilege to work from home.
As a homebody, staying at home while generating income is “the dream.” As you know, the Metro Manila traffic sucks and I spend everyday complaining about rush hours and long lines before I could ride the MRT. This WFH setup helped me get a decent sleep every night without worrying about getting late the next day.
I hear Metro Manila’s going to transition into Modified ECQ, and eventually Modified GCQ, but there are still a lot of restrictions. Most establishments are allowed to operate but mass transportation is still suspended or limited. It will take a while before we can transition into the “new normal” but we’re not going back to the normal we once knew. Frankly, I miss those days.
For me, the old normal means going to the mall and (window) shopping, constantly debating with myself on why I shouldn’t buy stuff that’s not on my list. It also means going outside without worrying about direct physical contact. Now, we couldn’t even step out of our homes without wearing masks and gloves.
I think I’ve taken for granted those “drawing” dinner plans with friends. With all that’s happening now, the New Normal only allows us limited minutes inside a restaurant.
Old normal means ordering fast food directly from the counter. Fast food was once within reach, but now we’ll have to spend several minutes until a delivery personnel accepts our order. I think I’ve taken for granted those “drawing” dinner plans with friends. With all that’s happening now, the New Normal only allows us limited minutes inside a restaurant.
This situation makes me want to ride the MRT during rush hours, even if it’s too crowded. It’s not because I want people to squeeze me until I can’t breathe, but because it reminds me of the days I could get in close contact with people without fear of contracting the virus. Between you and me, I’ll take MRT over COVID-19 any day. I mean, who wouldn’t?
I know conversations won’t be the same. I would like to go to the office, sit on my workstation, and talk to my office friends about the most random things--from the issues of deprived farmers to the quizzes about “Which BTS Member Would Date You” (I got Jungkook in case you’re wondering). The brain farts and spontaneous topics with my workmates, I miss them all. But rules would prevent me from even having lunch with them on the same table.
Even when this catastrophic situation is over, the Philippines has yet to heal from the broken system this pandemic has uncovered.
I miss going to my grandmother’s house without thinking if I’ll be risking her health during my visit. My relatives are just a walking distance away, but I couldn’t even check up on them face to face.
I’ve mentioned working from home is “the dream” for a homebody and commuter warrior like me. But knowing there’s a pandemic out there and there are less fortunate people who couldn’t afford proper healthcare or even protect themselves from the virus, this isn't something to celebrate.
How I wish we could all wake up the next morning with the news “Philippines is now COVID-19-free.” But unless authorities will conduct mass testing and the government learns to prioritize issues, our country won’t wake up from this nightmare anytime soon. Even when this catastrophic situation is over, the Philippines has yet to heal from the broken system this pandemic has uncovered.