I love horror movies. I have watched so many movies about a deadly virus sweeping the nation and creating scarcity, fear, and the occasional zombie. I never thought that I could live through something like this because it is only in the movies.
I am one of the lucky ones; I had a job that was deemed essential when COVID-19 started to be seen as a threat and lockdowns started to hit the United States. My job as a manager of a sporting goods store in Arizona was never shut down because Governor Ducey said the camping supplies, guns, and ammo were basic needs. I did not live my version of pandemic lock up (until later). Still, I did have to deal with the crazy effects of the pandemic on our community.
First, all of our weights and workout equipment sold out. We would have hundreds of people a day coming in and looking for whatever they could get their hands on. On Friday’s when we got shipments, we would have a line outside for hours from those trying to fill up their home gym.
When the Black Lives Matter protests started, guns and ammo became scarce (and they still are). I heard a statistic that there were 8 million new gun owners in 2020. This was difficult for me as an employee who sells guns because it is ultimately my decision if I think a buyer is fit to purchase a weapon or not. I am the last line of defense before the gun leaves our doors. One mistake, my job is on the line. I was having to explain to people that some rifles are made for hunting, not self-defense. If they have never shot a gun before, they can risk the lives of their loved ones or even their own. People did not seem to care – they just wanted a gun.
The last items we had a rush on were above-ground pools and trampolines as summer hit and kids were getting antsy at home.
I genuinely hate confrontation. I will do anything to stay out of a fight, even if it means neglecting my own needs and wants. In the last year, I have dealt with more confrontation than ever before. People do not want to wear masks, which caused me to have to kick many people out of the store to keep my employees and customers safe. People were mad when we didn’t have what they wanted in stock, which I cannot control, but people don’t understand that. We did not take returns for a while, and even though we verbally told customers that and stapled something to their receipt saying it – people were mad. While I do not enjoy disagreements, this time came as a blessing because it forced me to grow a backbone.
When the semester at Thunderbird started in the fall, I quit my job at Big 5 Sporting Goods to focus on school full time. This was fine until around Thanksgiving. I found myself getting really depressed because I left the house once a day to get a coffee, and that was it. My friends from my undergraduate program moved away, and I did not make the number of friends I thought I would at Thunderbird due to taking classes virtually. My grades started to drop, and I wanted to stay in bed all day.
In December, I decided to go back to Big 5 as a part-time manager to get social interaction. I do not need the money, and I do not like the idea of putting myself or others at risk, but I needed to do this for my mental health. I go to work 4-5 times a week, and it allows me to talk to the friends I have made there and get out of the house.
Throughout this global pandemic, I have learned how to be comfortable in my own presence. I am extremely extroverted and struggle to be alone. I have learned that I can take my dog for a road trip or simply read a book and be content with who I am now and who I am becoming. I have grown immensely as a person and as a student, and I’m thankful for the friends I have made all over the world through Thunderbird.