Imagine my surprise to wake up on the morning of March 16, 2020 and have our state governor, Tom Wolf, order people to stay home and stay safe. From a virus. An invisible flu-like disease.
People must be allowed to take responsibility for their own choices.
WE ARE NOT IN THE SAME BOAT … I heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat. Your ship could be shipwrecked and mine might not be. Or vice versa.
For some, quarantine is optimal. A moment of reflection, of re-connection, easy in flip flops, with a cocktail or coffee. For others, this is a desperate financial & family crisis.
For some that live alone they’re facing endless loneliness. While for others it is peace, rest & time with their mother, father, sons & daughters.
With the $600 weekly increase in unemployment some are bringing in more money to their households than they were working.
Others are working more hours for less money due to pay cuts or loss in sales.
And even others receive nothing from their state or federal governments yet they are not allowed to go out and make money to support their family’s needs.
Some families of 4 just received $3400 from the stimulus while other families of 4 saw $0.
Some were concerned about getting a certain candy for Easter while others were concerned if there would be enough bread, milk and eggs for the weekend.
Some want to go back to work because they don’t qualify for unemployment and are running out of money.
Others want to murder and maim those who break the quarantine.
Some are home spending 2-3 hours/day helping their child with online schooling while others are spending 2-3 hours/day to educate their children on top of a 10-12 hour workday.
Some have experienced the near death of the virus, some have already lost someone from it and some are not sure if their loved ones are going to make it.
Others don’t believe this is a big deal.
Some have faith in God and expect miracles during this 2020. Others say the worst is yet to come.
So, friends, we are not in the same boat. We are going through a time when our perceptions and needs are completely different.
Each of us will emerge, in our own way, from this storm. It is very important to see beyond what is seen at first glance. Not just looking, actually seeing.
We are all on different ships during this storm experiencing a very different journey. Keep this in mind as your scroll through Facebook, Twitter and other social media and be kind. Remember, your boat may be safe but others may be sinking.
So, of course, I (like many other people) ignored him and went about our business. The world is in a panic. People are dying from Coronavirus (yes, and people die from the flu during flu season, and people die from pneumonia during pneumonia season) … but we are told to stay home, be safe and don’t come in contact with people who could be carrying the virus.
WHY? Shouldn’t we all get exposed, get sick, develop immunity and go about our business? Just like during flu season?
March 27, Governor Wolf shuts down all nonessential businesses until April 30. 2020.
Uhm, my husband and I own and operate a small business. It is our only source of income. And how are we supposed to pay business vendors, pay the mortgage, pay the auto loans, pay insurance???
And, like many other small businesses that were considered nonessential, we ignored Governor Wolf and continued to operate.
But people are scared. They are not calling for appointments, and the appointments that are already on the schedule are being cancelled. In the first four weeks (March 16 to April 11, our second busiest season of the year, we only had about $3,000 in appointments. A time period in which we would have generated about $10,000 in appointments.
How do we pay our bills?
We reached out to the three auto loans (loans for vehicles to run in our business). I will say this. If you ever get an auto loan, do it with Chase Auto. They responded to us immediately, took three months of loan payments (April, May and June) and put them on the back of our loan. Thanked us for our patronage, and hoped we are being safe and healthy.
The other two loan companies? As of today’s writing (April 20, 2020) we have sent three requests for assistance and have had zero response back. Valley National Bank and PNC Bank. Well guess what? We have no money, we will not be paying our auto loan this month.
We reached out to our mortgage company, Rushmore Loan Management Services, for help. We applied through their COVID Resources link on their website. Their response to us came in a week. They said, “Sorry you have no money, pay your mortgage.”
Hey, thanks for that. We have no money so obviously we cannot make the mortgage payment for April.
In the meantime, we are barely making a minimum payment on the business lines of credit. January and February are typically the two slowest months of the year for our business. We skips some payments knowing we can catch up, and usually get ahead in March and April. We’ve been doing that since 1993, when we established our business.
We had no idea that we would not be able to catch up is 2020.
We are not a public store. We are not a public shop. We are an essential service for the health and hygiene of pets. We travel to their home and we never see more than four or five customers in a day.
We decided we had to get to work or we were going to go bankrupt. We started taking calls again on April 9. We understand the seriousness of this virus and we have taken safety measures to keep us, and our customers, safe. We are working in garages, away from the customer. We are sterilizing everything in between customer visits. We are wearing masks, a new mask at each customer. We are washing our masks in the evening in soap and bleach.
We receive a call from the Pennsylvania State Police on April 14th. Five days after we decided to start working again because we were out of money. There has been a complaint that we are conducting business. Is this true? I am honest. Yes.
The State Police officer reviews our situation, understands how we are working, and says as far as he is concerned, we are not causing a health concern and we should be allowed to work, but .. .BUT … the governor has already determined that some of our services are nonessential. Some of them are essential and we can perform those services, but not the other services. And if there is a second complaint, we can be fined, put in jail and lose our business license.
So. We. Shutdown. Again.
Do we get PA unemployment? No
Did we apply for EIDL? Yes, we have not heard a peep from SBA on this application.
Did we apply for PPE? Yes, we were denied.
Did we apply for PAU unemployment? Yes, on April 19th. And guess what? We were told that the site isn’t ready to accept claim input yet.
And so, we are on week six with no money coming in.
There was a major protest in harrisburg today, begging the Governor to reopen the state on May 1st. his response to that? He is ordering us to “stay at home” until May 8th.
Governor Wolf? I have no money for food. I have to work. The government has not helped me, a small business owner. I am going back to work now and if you choose to arrest me, fine me, throw me in jail and take away my business license, then so be it.
This is not how I expected my life to go. We had just hired two new employees last fall. They are now on unemployment making money while I have no money.
This is not how I expected my life to go. I am ordered to stay home and be safe, but I truly believe that we are all going to be exposed at some point to this virus so just go out, get exposed and get it over with so we can get on with our lives.
This is not how I expected my life to go. I see the writing on the wall. I can lose everything … house, cars, business … and all I can do is roll with the punches as they land.
This is not how I expected my life to go. An average of 7,500 people die every day in America. During flu season, that number is in the hundreds … no-one ever says a word about that. During the summer, hundreds of people die every day in auto and boating accidents. During pneumonia season, hundreds of people die … no-one ever says a word about that.
April 20, 2020