For the Frontline Workers

I’d have fallen apart long ago.

Here are firsthand accounts of what frontline workers are going through right now.

Some of them have worked 250 days straight without a break.

Many have inadequate personal protective equipment, and are forced to wear one N95 mask for a 12 hour shift. They’re supposed to be discarded after each use. This is not safe for them or for the patients they serve.

Bags of personal possessions of the deceased are stacking up like cordwood in many hospitals, as no one has time to distribute them to loved ones, and those possessions were, of course, exposed to the virus.

Many workers have had to hold the cell phone so loved ones can watch as patients flatline, and there’s inadequate mental health support for these workers who do this multiple times a day as people wail over the phone.

Administrators are forced to turn patients away as they are already well above capacity, and currently 200,000 Americans are falling sick every single day. And then they’re forced to order freezer trucks to store the increasing number of dead.

El Paso, Texas has more COVID patients than many states do. How would you like to work in a hospital there?

After a 12 hour shift of dealing with this horror, if a frontline worker even has the opportunity to go home, he or she can’t hug family members, because without adequate personal protective equipment, they are having to self-quarantine so as not to put family members in danger. So they don’t even have that comfort to look forward to.

And then they get to watch so many of us declare this pandemic to be a hoax. They see people refusing to wear masks under the mistaken idea that it’s their constitutional right to make this mess so much worse. They get to see us stubbornly turn mask wearing into a political thing when it’s actually a public health thing. People are dying.

And yet the frontline workers keep showing up, day after day after miserable day, for us. I don’t know how they do it. I don’t think I could. I think I’d have fallen apart long ago. I already feel like I’m falling apart, and I don’t face ANYTHING compared to these amazing people.

I don’t feel like I’m doing enough for them. Whenever I work swing shift, I blow my bridge horn for them for 15 seconds at 8 pm as a thank you. And I’ve been told that the neighborhood appreciates it. It makes me feel like I’m doing something, at least, and I derive comfort from that.

But not everyone appreciates it, it seems. The other night, after I had blown the horn, a man got on the marine radio and said, “I don’t think anybody even knows why you’re doing that anymore. Stop it.”

At the moment, all my nerves are at the surface of my skin. I’m on the ragged edge. So this made me cry.

I started second-guessing myself. Maybe I shouldn’t do it. Maybe it’s stupid. Maybe it’s an irritant.

But after I calmed down, I got angry. Am I going to let one cranky man taint this gesture? He can’t handle 15 seconds a day of noise when these people are sacrificing so much all day, every day, and their situation is about to get a thousand times worse?

No! I’m not going to stop as long as this pandemic is still raging. I refuse. He may call and complain to my superiors, and then I’d be forced to stop, because bureaucracies react to the squeaky wheel. But I genuinely believe that people appreciate it. So until I’m forced to do so, I’ll continue to send out my lonely thank you whistle to all within earshot.

If you know anyone who is serving on the front line of this life and death battle, in any capacity at all, please share this blog with them. They probably won’t have the time or energy to read it, but I want them to know how grateful we are for every single thing that they do.

And if, by some miracle, Mr. Crankypants happens to read my blog, I have a message for him: F*** you, you selfish jerk.


Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

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