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Monday, January 31, 2022

My Community Is Beginning to Look Like a Third World Country

    I’ve been blessed to be able to work from home and at the office on a hybrid schedule each week since the pandemic started. The Metra is virtually empty most days when I catch the 7:45 a.m. train, and there isn’t much more of a crowd on the next train at 8:18 a.m. The ride is quiet, and it gives me time to focus on my daily routine of duties as a paralegal for a law firm in downtown Chicago. It also gives me time to reflect on my life in general and on what the future may hold for the country and the world as a whole in the midst of COVID-19.

Wasteland

    It's a thirty-minute ride from the Riverdale stop at 138th Street to the Millennium Station stop at Michigan and Randolph. I usually stop at Dunkin Donuts for a doughnut or turkey sausage and egg sandwich, and then I’m off to the AMA Plaza building where I work on North Wabash Avenue. The street is practically empty on my saunter down Wabash, even during the summer in the heart of tourist season. The grinders have all but ceased as most of the downtown workforce have opted to create office space in their living rooms or spare bedrooms. I arrive at the AMA building and scan my ID at the front desk, say good morning to a couple of security guards and make my way to the elevator. It’s only 8:33 a.m. when I arrive on my floor, so I wait an additional twenty minutes before I clock in moments before my nine o’clock start time. I then take off my coat and head to one of the kitchens to make myself a glass of iced tea. I see the usual suspects in their respective offices and cubicles, and I greet all five of them―my office is practically a ghost town just like the streets. And that’s the beginning of my day in a nutshell.

    Like millions of other Americans, I’ve learned to adapt to this present environment even though I feel most days like a fish out of water. And I ask myself countless times: What’s the endgame? Will I survive? It’s to the point now that I see businesses fall by the waist side on a monthly basis―the Shoe Carnival, which was one of my favorite shoe stores in the River Oaks Mall, folded at the start of this year. Numerous restaurants, clothing stores, and small businesses didn’t survive the pandemic, and my neighborhood is beginning to look like a wasteland as vacant and boarded-up storefronts have become commonplace throughout the community. I’m afraid to think what the country will look like in the next five years with a failing economy, food shortages, and the threat of WWIII.

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