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Editor’s note: In this interview, our student Samantha Soto González speaks with her father, a parking lot supervisor, about how his life has changed since the COVID-19 emergency was declared. This English-language version is an edited translation. You can listen to the whole interview in Spanish here:
DANIEL SOTO: Yes, my name is Daniel Soto, I’m 46, I’m a parking supervisor.
BOYLE HEIGHTS BEAT: Can you tell me what was your job like before this all started, and how has it been during this time?
DS: My job was very demanding, very physical, very busy. You have to always be aware, you have to do customer service, you have to move cars, you have to avoid accidents, you have to watch and make sure that the workers don’t have accidents and that they don’t go over their hours or skip their breaks or lunches.
BHB: And how was it afterwards?
DS: Well, after, the job slowed down, there were few visitors, we didn’t take any risks, we began to keep our distancing because a lot of people would come for doctors’ appointments not related to coronavirus, but were going for check ups, children going to a family clinic.
BHB: How was your daily routine and how has it changed now?
DS: Well my routine at home was simply arrive and eat and rest. Now that there is no work, I have to be at home all the time, trying to read or to learn something new.
“There are a lot of people who are careless or irresponsible who are not doing the correct thing… They’re going out without covering their nose and mouth, having meetings, getting too close. And I’m afraid because these people could be carriers of COVID-19 and not know it and could be spreading it to other people.”
BHB: For example, trying to do some construction or repair work, right? Because I remember a few days ago you were repairing an electric fan that wasn’t working, or adjusting the bathroom door I think, you cleaned the refrigerator.
DS: Yes, basically we rearranged the garage, we serviced the cars, we cleaned things thoroughly that perhaps looked clean at the surface, but if you looked into their mechanism, they’re dirty, things like that.
BHB: I noticed that when you took the dogs out for a walk, you took longer than when you took them out before the pandemic. Can you think of anything else that has changed in your regular life?
DS: It’s changed in the sense that there are now more people staying at home and when you go out for a walk, in a way it’s more enjoyable being somewhere where there isn’t a lot of traffic, from vehicles or people. It feels like it’s a very peaceful place, and that makes you enjoy the walk even more. Sometimes you lose the notion of time, because you’re enjoying nature, in this case.
BHB: What are you doing to take precautions?
DS: Precautions for what?
BHB: For example, using a face mask… I’m sorry, I don’t know how to say it in Spanish.
BHB: Tapabocas… When you go out to walk the dogs, do you wear gloves, use hand sanitizer… sorry, I don’t know how to say that in Spanish.
DS: Yes, trying to follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization, which I to keep your distance, cover your mouth and nose, wear gloves… And when you return home, wash your hands for more than 20 seconds. Things like that they’ve said.
BHB: When you were working, what were you afraid the most?
DS: Truly, there are a lot of people who are careless or irresponsible who, really, don’t take account of the current conditions or are not doing the correct thing, like maintaining social distance. They’re going out without covering their nose and mouth, having meetings, getting too close. And I’m afraid because these people could be carriers of COVID-19 and not know it and could be spreading it to other people.
BHB: How do you feel about the fact that other people can, have the ability of working from their home, and you don’t. You don’t have access to that. How do you feel about that?
DS: Truthfully, I have no feelings about that, I only think that people work at home because working at the office is the same thing as working at home, there is no difference. Except you fix yourself up and go to an office and everyone dresses professionally. And, by being gathered, there could be more of a work environment. On the other hand, there is a chance that you don’t feel comfortable and don’t work the same. But it’s likely to be the same. And people who can’t work inside offices, that their work is outside, well, no, they don’t have that option, because the job is interacting with people, it’s different from office work.
BHB: What worries you, now that you have lost your job? Are you worried about bills, how are we going to pay for that, or do you feel that the checks that have come in from the government are going to help pay the rent, for example.
DS: Well I think the financial help being approved by the state and federal governments are good for all citizens, because there will always be a need. There’s a need for expenses in food and utilities, paying for gas and housing. Then it’s important. But, it’s also worrying that there are people who don’t have access to these funds and can’t afford food or utilities, or are afraid of being kicked out of their houses.
BHB: Now that you’re not working, what’s the worse part of your day? Not necessarily the worse, but what is something that doesn’t… doesn’t bring you much happiness now, to put it that way.
DS: Well, no, I feel that staying at home now is a measure to avoid getting infected. So it’s good, because we avoid getting sick and putting our lives at risk, because we don’t know how someone could react. But at the same time, it’s frustrating because you have goals, like at work or starting a new hobby, or change jobs. So then you have to put your goals on pause and it’s all a bit frustrating, because you have to wait for everything to pass, to restart working on those goals.
BHB: Looking at the bright side, what is it that you enjoy now that you’re at home.
DS: Well, what I enjoy the most is breakfast… That one can get up, naturally not as early as if you were going to work, get up later and take the time to make yourself a good breakfast and enjoy it. I feel that when you go to work you’re rushed and breakfast has to be as fast as possible. And now you can say, or I feel like having this, and to be able to make it and sit down and take all the time you want to have breakfast.