Au pair life: how coronavirus changed my plans (part 1)

Au pair life: how coronavirus changed my plans (part 1)

I was very naïve as I was thinking that during the time of publishing this blog we won´t be hearing about the coronavirus anymore. My first intension was to write just a few lines about being an au pair during these tough days. But the reality is different: coronavirus is still a hot topic, I´m not an au pair anymore, I´m not even in the US and I´m just smiling about a saying: “Every cloud has a silver lining.” By one small stupid decision I created a catastrophic avalanche that actually made my small dream come true: I went home.    

While I was still responsible…

It was Sunday, March 14th, European states has started closing their borders and the US shut down incoming flights from sixteen European countries. Donald Trump was waiting for the results of coronavirus tests. Tom Hanks and his wife were already infected. Season of NBA and NHL has been postponed, cultural events were being canceled and people started massively buying flour and toilet paper. I saw an accurate joke today: “I was just explaining to my kids that this quarantine is the same as the life 31 years ago. Borders are closed, there are no tourists, long queues in front of the stores, you can´t travel anywhere and in the TV you can see a Slovak a*shole talking by a broken Czech (I think they were talking about Andrej Babiš).” On March 5th we were making fun that Slovakia was almost the only country in Europe where was not even one confirmed case of coronavirus. On March 6th the first case was known from Kostolište. We were making fun that it was like a worse flu. I´ve heard that 1% of those who get flu, die. On coronavirus it was already 3% of all the closed cases. Are you asking me if I was scared? Well, not yet.

We were hearing news about coronavirus daily and things were just getting worse. And so, today I decided that I will try to be helpful with stopping spreading the virus and I canceled my road trip I was planning to go to in a week and I already paid for it. In this case, money isn´t everything. But things as a toilet paper, respirators, face masks and disinfections these days mean a lot. And as I´m looking at the statistics every day and the direction it leads, I came to a conclusion that each of us has probably already met someone who either carries the virus or has been infected. The worst are the people who don´t care at all. Do you realize who pays for it at the end? Innocent people and the doctors. Today I read an article how does it look like in Italian hospitals. Doctors do nurses job and nobody cares about over timing anymore because everyone works as long as they can. Their health is in danger and because of limited supplies they have to decide who will survive and who will not. I wish I was just writing lines to some kind of a sci-fi book…   

On Thursday Donald Trump announced that starting Friday he will close the borders with Europe and no one will be able to come to the US. On Thursday I had a serious conversation with my host family. They asked me to avoid places where people gather, gym, stores, restaurants, bars and not to hang out with my friends. They asked me to follow these rules at least for the upcoming weeks and then we will see how the situation with the virus goes in our area. I felt like a 15 years old kid who came home wasted and just got grounded for indefinite period (with exception of going to the beach or to the park). In the same time I was realizing that it was for a good of everyone. I knew that I didn’t want to be a potential carrier of the virus and spread it more than it already was. And yes, it was very restricting. But when I looked how Italy or Spain looked like where during 24 hours were confirmed over 1500 new cases I knew it was… reasonable. And now we could just wait to see how many people decide to stay at home or go on a vacation to Hawaii since you could have gotten return tickets from San Francisco for $100. Are you asking what such a situation means for an au pair? Those ones who are in Europe or China at least during the following 30 days won´t make it to the US. I finally got my weekends off but during the week I had to work all the time not mentioning being stuck in a home with the kid and his parents who started with home office. And thanks God I was taking care of one kid only. They started closing the schools, it was not recommended to go to a public places and we all knew that the situation will just get worse. And I was so excited that I had only three months left until the end of this program. But I told myself to think positively and I was thinking about all those saved money I would have had at the end! But who would have said that just a few days after such a personal enlightenment I will do something that changes all my life upside down…             

When I stopped being so responsible… (March 17th 2020)

The serious conversation with my host mom I had was on Friday 13th. I could have gone out by myself but to be honest, it´s quite boring. Not mentioning that the whole previous week I spent in the “house quarantine” since my host kid was sick and stayed at home. And so, I spent this weekend at home, chilling in my bed. On Monday I was working all day again and then famous Tuesday came. My friends were supposed to leave San Francisco on Wednesday because the situation with coronavirus was getting worse. And so, in the evening I decided that despite I was not allowed to meet my friends, I will make a one-time exception and come there and say goodbye to them anyways. I knew I wouldn´t see them any soon and I will actually end up socially isolated – just like my host family wanted me to be… Well, I did end up socially isolated but not in the US. But I will talk about it later.        

I got off at 8pm, covered by mud and I smelled like a trash and so I took a shower and around 8:30pm I announced my host mom that I was going out to drive around and chill out. Back in the days, at the time when I came to their house six months ago the family asked me to share the location with them (they assured me that they will not stalk on me but when I think about it now I´m just wondering how often they actually were checking on me – you will see why soon). To prevent them from checking on me, I turned off my phone and let my friends know that I was coming in 20 minutes. I sat into my car, automatically put the phone on charger (force of habit) and I left. What I didn´t realize and notice was that if you plug a turned off phone to a charger, it will automatically turn on. Even if the battery is not dead. But I left, enjoyed the last moments with my friends and as I was leaving home, I grabbed my phone to turn it on so I could have listened to some nice music on a way home. And as I took the phone I found out it was turned on and I had a missed call and two unread text messages. In the first one my host mom was asking me if I was sure that I just went out for a drive and I didn´t go to meet someone and in the second one was stated:

“Please stay at that place tonight, don´t come here. We want to end the program, effective immediately…

…Good night, hope you´re having fun with your friends over there.” 

I think it is more than clear that I had a huge breakdown immediately. My first thoughts were that I was going to stay somewhere on a San Francisco´s street in the middle of the world´s pandemic and I will become a homeless. Fortunately I could have stayed at my friends´ and they promised me that we will figure this all out in the morning. During the night I didn´t sleep at all and I let my mom know what kind of disaster her daughter once again caused. Once she absorbed this “amazing” news she told me how irresponsible and stupid I was and I was praying to be morning already…

Lula