Quarantine through the eyes of a 21-year-old college student

At no point in my lifetime has toilet paper ever been considered “hard to come by.” It’s never even been something to think twice about, you just get toilet paper when you need more. Yet, a few weeks ago when my father went to Walmart, they were completely out of it, so he bought baby wipes instead. They’re good enough, right?

When he went to work that evening, he is a sergeant with the local police force and works nights, he brought it up with his squad during their briefing, thinking they’d get a laugh out of it. Promptly, one of the officers piped up, saying they have a one-year-old and can’t find baby wipes anywhere. So he traded them for a pack of toilet paper.

Such is life in COVID-19’s America.

My dad has since been able to stock up on toilet paper to get around the lack thereof at many stores. He might be part of the problem, on second thought. Photo by Griffin Hays.

Sure, watching people doing strange things on social media, doing homework online and finding ways to pass the time are fairly normal for most college students. Home workouts, Zoom calls and bartering for toilet paper, however, are not. Then again, barely anything is normal these days.

We have never seen anything quite like this pandemic before. Factor in a whole generation of young people who don’t even have a firsthand account of Sept. 11, 2001, whether they weren’t born yet or they were just too young to remember, and you get a large portion of the population who would have no clue what to do with themselves if society shut down for so much as a week. But, Cabrini University closed its campus and moved classes online seven weeks ago.

In that time nearly every state in the U.S. has issued stay at home orders or outright lockdown. Social distancing has become the new normal. I went to get food at 9 p.m. on April 1, and I was the only car on the road the entire time. It looked completely dystopian; in fact, this whole ordeal feels like something out of a post-apocalyptic survival video game or a zombie movie.

But I am one who tries to find the positives in any situation and this is no different.

For example, this is a great time to pick up a new hobby, like building a scale model of the Taj Mahal out of matches or toothpicks. Having home-cooked meals all week is a refreshing change from the food in the cafeteria. Watching the all-virtual NFL draft was quite entertaining. My brother and I have a running joke that if zombies start trying to eat everyone and we have to partner up (you know the buddy system), I have dibs on Wichita, Emma Stone’s character from “Zombieland.”

Alas, the odds of a zombie apocalypse stemming from this is infinitesimally small, and Emma Stone is engaged anyway. But, all jokes aside, there is a lot of good that has come of this.

The environment has shown that climate change is not yet past the point of no return, such as in Venice where, during the lockdown, people have seen fish in the canals, rather than layers of pollution and sludge, for the first time in years. People are helping each other out of the goodness of their hearts. And, as it turns out, some of this online stuff actually works pretty well.

There is a good chance that once COVID-19 has passed, and it will, the world will never really be the same, but in a lot of ways, it may be for the better. The only thing we can do is just control what we can control. There’s nothing you can do about a global pandemic shutting down society as we know it, but how you react is completely up to you. Do with that advice what you will.

Hang in there, everybody, we’ll get through this.