Grant me the strength to continue when all seems lost,
The Grace to accept that which I cannot change,
And the compassion to still love others amid a sea of chaos.
Today I did things. I finally felt accomplished. I found myself down to my last pair of clean underwear, the towels and sheets far overdue for a cleaning, and so I had to venture out into the vast unknown to the laundromat to remedy this before starting my hellishly long-hour work week. Also, my groceries were near depleted and I knew that in my outing I must also acquire the nourishments. Then there was the issue of my last pair of jeans that had finally gotten a pesky, unrepairable hole and my work boots that were so worn down I could no longer wear them for a few hours without my feet eliciting so much pain that I was glad no one could see me wince in pair because of the now-mandated PPE facemasks from work. So, I added those items to the list. These last two to-do-list items were not easy feats.
Grocery stores have remained open during this crisis and so had the laundromat. But clothing stores and places one could obtain steel toe shoes for women? No such luck, these types of establishments aren’t really essential, even if in this moment to me they desperately were. I could order these items online to be shipped to me, praying to the Kindreds that when they arrived in a few weeks that they would fit properly. But what would I wear to work tomorrow? I had plenty of leggings, athletic pants, sweats and whatnot, but all of these pants were strictly forbidden and my somewhat sexist management people have made it clear just how inappropriate they are for the workplace. I was so lost and feeling defeated.
Then I saw it. Drive thru pants from Kohls. I had bought pants there before and so I knew what brand and size I could reasonably get away with without trying them on. I could order then online, pay for them online and I would get an email about picking them up. Then I would drive to the store wait in a designated parking spot, the lady would scan my email barcode through the window and deposit the item into my trunk without ever coming into contact with anyone. I cried tears of joy, I would not be wearing ripped pants to work. I would not be getting written up or sent home because I lacked the ability to obtain properly fitting appropriate work pants.
My last stop was the boot conundrum. Usually we have a steel toe boot truck that comes to work once a month. I get a stipend from work every year to buy a new pair of steel toed shoes. I was cleared to do so after April 28. The boot truck announced they would no longer be coming over to campus on April 20. No May boot truck. No boots for me; I was about 20 days off from qualifying for the last truck at the beginning of the month. My options now are as stands: Order shoes over the phone that I have never tried on, wait for them to ship, and pray that they aren’t worse than the pair I currently have. Do nothing and wait for the pandemic to subside enough for the boot truck to resume. Or go to Walmart and try on whatever options I have to quell my immediate suffering.
I opted for Walmart. My options were a pitiful three types of shoes. I found one I liked that fit okay for really cheap. We will see how they hold up to 12 hour, 10 miles a day shifts. I longingly gazed at the men’s selection; all twenty types of steel toes wishing men’s shoes went down to a size 5 so I could at least have the option of men’s shoes. But alas, I had to settle for not ideal, knowing that this small sacrifice was so small compared to the horrors people on the front lines were facing.
I returned home and I wept. In an apartment that was a cage for my ever-increasing depression, I had felt trapped. Too tired to accomplish any Pinterest-inspired quarantine goals, barely able to function normally. Dishes often sat in the sink for far too long, vacuuming was a distant memory, any hope of “being creative” and using this downtime to “be productive” were just pipe dreams and wishful thinking.
Today, was different. I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to do, but it was the things I needed and it was the things that in this moment I felt like I could tackle. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that this world is evolving and the changes are bound to knock us off our best and that’s okay. As for today, I am grateful for drive-thru pants.