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20 is an open door

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Avatar for Fayeretellstales
Written by   6
1 year ago
Topics: Life, Adulthood, Pandemic

The year was 2020. It was the start of a new decade, and also the beginning of Gabbi’s new chapter in her life. After several failed attempts at finding a job at the age of 20, she finally decided to find her luck outside of their province. She graduated from a prestigious university however, such title was not enough for her to land on a job. She kept asking herself how luck never sided with her, and she could only think of two realistic reasons: a) she has zero work experience; and b) she never got the connections.

“Lopez, Gabbi.”

June 2019. She remembered how her last summer in college ended. She walked confidently upstage to finally get hold of the paper that she worked on with her blood, sweat, and tears for four years. “Finally,” she thought. Her mind was already filled with thoughts of landing on a job, meeting new people, earning and spending her own money. No more academic papers, but only papers with value to filled in her wallet.

However, applying for a job was not as easy as she thought. She thought she had at least an advantage because she graduated from a prestigious university. But she was wrong all along. Even submitting papers did not stop after college. She attempted several times to submit her papers to several government agencies in her province, but only received papers back filled with rejection. Holidays came and herself was still unemployed.

On the night before Christmas, her family had a reunion and Gabbi knew she would be fired by questions from her nosy relatives. Dinner came, and she became the main dish of their conversation.

“Gabbi, what year are you now?”

"Do you have a boyfriend?"

"Still single? Because you don't act like a lady!"

“You already graduated college. So, do you have work now?”

“Still unemployed? You graduated from a well-known university though?”

"You're single and unemployed?"

Questions were continuously thrown at her. It was her choice to be single, but it was never her choice to be still unemployed. She couldn’t help but fake her frustrations with a smile while responding to everyone’s rude comment. If only she had the nerve to say the F-word in front of her relatives and slap anyone that insists her to be engaged already in a relationship. But, its Christmas. She's infront of her relatives and she did not want to waste her energy by starting a fight with them. With a deep sigh, she noted mentally to lengthen more her patience.

“If you can't find work here, then maybe you should look for work at big cities like Cebu or Manila!”

That thought had already crossed her mind several times. However, her goal was to never work outside of their province. She did not want the city life, and finds it impractical and uneconomical to survive along its expensive living standards.

But now she finds herself desperate. She felt like she had wasted months earning nothing. She imagined all the sunk costs that she might have earned instead.

After that controversial family dinner, she had to mentally debate with herself about looking for job opportunities outside her province. In the end, she tried applying for a job located at the country’s capital city- Manila. And before the year 2019 ended, a door opened for her to receive a job offer.

January 2020 started, along with Gabby’s employed life. She met new people, showed enthusiasm towards her work, and finally earned her first salary. She felt accomplished to be finally part of the working class.

“Good morning, ma’am!” She greeted her senior with enthusiasm. It was a Monday, but she never felt the mood to skip working on Mondays.

But instead of being greeted back, she received a question instead. “Have you heard about this virus from China?” Gabbi nodded and her senior continued. “WHO finally confirms a case of COVID-19 in Thailand. It is even the first recorded case outside of China! Imagine if that virus enters the country, we would end up helpless. You might end up being jobless!” Her senior pointed at her.

Gabbi was taken aback. She did not fully understand how things would escalate that bad if the newly discovered virus would enter the country. She just got hired, and she knew getting fired out just because of a silly virus would be the last thing to happen. She started with her usual assigned work, and brushed off the idea about getting jobless in the future.

However, when the country finally reported its first suspected case, it became everyone's topic in their workplace. Gabbi also started getting worried but she tried to rationalize the thought that it was still a suspected case. Days passed, and the country finally recorded its first case.

The country remained calm and had no intentions to close its borders yet. People seemed to be unaffective too, and thought that the virus wouldn't outstand the country's tropical temperature.

Gabbi continued to work on with his daily schedule. However, as the days passed by, the number of positive cases increased. March came, and that was the only time when the government decided to implement a lockdown.

Months passed, and it was already imminent that the country's economy was also badly affected. And unfortunately, Gabbi's company had to undergo downsizing. The thought about being jobless entered again her mind. And unfortunately, the inevitable happened. She got downsized.

She was devastated. Her parents were concerned about her, and told her to go back home instead. With a heavy heart, she prepared all the requirements needed to go home while also being concerned that she could be a potential carrier of the virus. She had to go through a process. She had to undergo a swabbing test, had to quarantine herself for 14 days while praying that she would receive a negative result. Good thing she was negative, and she was finally permitted to go home.

She did not brought enough travel food because she prioritized buying a box of mask and a hand sanitizer. Prices inflated, and she had to allocate her remaining budget for her safety. When she was already inside the designated bus, everyone was seated apart while wearing a mask. When she arrived at her designated seat, her mind was filled with too many thoughts. She couldn't concentrate and anxiety was her only company. While travelling, they had to go through several checkpoints. It took them several days than the usual to finally arrived at their destination. Gabbi, together with the other passengers who came back to their province, went home empty handed.

When Gabbi finally arrived at her municipality, she needed to quarantine herself again for another 14 days. She was assisted with officials that wore PPEs, and guided them to the quarantine facility. However, when she thought she would only quarantine by herself, she was surprised to see unorganized stuff inside the room. Nobody else was there, but the other side of the room was occupied.

Gabbi's face showed confusion, and before she could formulate a question, the staff already answered her.

"We don't have enough rooms to accommodate each individual. But don't worry, this room is spacious enough for you to distance with each other. Practice social distancing at six feet apart."

The staff continued to explain the other safety protocols that needed to be followed. However, there was a hint of disappointment in her because there were no personal comfort rooms. There were only two comfort rooms outside (one for male and one for female), and it will be shared mostly by them who occupied the 2nd floor of the building. The virus could still get passed on if anyone wouldn't be mindful of the implemented safety protocols.

Gabbi was left inside the room when the official already left. She was nervous to share a room with a total stranger, but she did not have any other choice. She wondered where that person went to when they should be in quarantine. She thought the person could be in the comfort room, and told herself to focus with herself instead.

She tried to scroll through social media but reading the news and seeing other people enjoying each other's company only made her lonely. She was all alone. And she was only accompanied by her thoughts. She wondered what would happen next after going back to zero. She knew she would basically start from scratch, but how?

It was already night time. She looked at the window and but only a few stars were in sight. But suddenly she saw a shooting star, and out of desperation she wished so hard for a new door for her to be opened.

However, negative thoughts filled her mind afterwards. She's already in her 20's, but why should she depend for some magic to happen? This is how the real world works.

The negative thoughts were choking her, and she couldn't fight against it. She questioned her worth in silence, and wondered what would happen if she could just suddenly went missing or worse, dead. However, she cannot fathom the pain that she will inflict to her family if she would end up hurting herself. She was torn between dying and living. And in the end, she finally let her heavy emotions get washed up by her tears. Her sob echoed through the empty room.

She ended up sleeping after crying by herself. She felt a little better when she woke up, however she wondered why she was still alone in the room. They arrived around 6 in the evening, and it was already quarter to 8. Curfew happens at 9, but her quarantine partner was still out of her sight.

She roamed around the room because she can no longer go back to sleep, and found out the name of her partner written on a plastic envelope propped on a suitcase. Ken Gonzales. The plastic envelope was also filled with documents, must have suffered the same ill fate as hers.

She got curious who was this Ken Gonzales, and why is he still not back to their room. She knew it was none of her business as to where this stranger could be, but she was concerned if this person was interacting with other people when in the first place, he should be quarantined.

She shrugged off her thoughts and decided to wash up before going to sleep. However when she opened the door, she was surprised to see someone lying on the floor. "Oh my god!" She dropped her personal shower kit, and it created a clang that was loud enough for the stranger to be awaken.

"Ouch!" The stranger groaned as the kit bounced onto his head. Out of instinct, she immediately checked the stranger, and she felt relief after seeing no wound was created from the impact. The person was still wearing a mask, his head was propped on the wall, and looked like he slept for hours outside the room.

The person looked up and sensed Gabbi's presence. She quickly distanced herself as the stranger slowly sit up from his lying position.

"Are you feeling okay now?" Gabby couldn't decipher what the stranger was talking about when she should be the one asking that. She was speechless, but the stranger continued.

"I'm sorry, I was about to enter the room when I suddenly heard someone crying. I peeked at the window and saw you there. I was questioning myself if I should enter the room, so I decided to just wait outside and only enter if you felt better. But I ended up sleeping here instead." The stranger explained as he scratched the back of his head. Gabbi felt instant embarassment as blood rushed onto her cheeks.

"Oh my god, I...I'm sorry. I-" Gabbi tried to reasoned out but no words escaped her mouth.

"It's okay. It's okay to be not okay sometimes. Shit happens. Just like how this shitty system happened." The stranger snorted after he made that snarky remark.

Gabbi remained still as the stranger offered his hand. "I'm Ken, by the way." However, after realizing that shaking hands must be avoided for the mean time, he offered his elbow instead. "I'm sorry, I almost forgot." Gabbi remained quiet but went on to touch elbows with the stranger.

The time was 20:20, but Gabbi never thought she would encounter a strange chapter in her life. Several doors closed for her, but as she wished for a new one to be opened, a stranger literally appears in front of her. But this time, the stranger was also looking for a new door to be opened just like her. They were both strangers, but both had a common destination.

Unemployment. Pandemic. And a total stranger as your company for the next fourteen days. Gabbi never thought how strange things happen when doors open at your 20's.

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Avatar for Fayeretellstales
Written by   6
1 year ago
Topics: Life, Adulthood, Pandemic
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I am also experiencing these things right now and they saddened me sometimes. we just have to let go of the things we can't control and do our best always. If all the doors are closed, then we can create our own door that is really meant for us.

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1 year ago

Thanks for the comment! I agree that there are things that we can't control. Letting go might be hard but it's a start to enter a new door filled with better opportunities.

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1 year ago