• Anthony Machcinski

What Covid Cost

I don’t get many Facebook messages anymore.

For years, I couldn’t go more than a few hours without seeing the familiar red notification pop up on my phone. After I got laid off in March, my Facebook messages became loose ends to projects long since abandoned.

I joked with a brother-in-law about how after 13 weeks of being unemployed, I finally saw the messages stop. Then, not two minutes later, I received a message, “So when is York Sounds publishing?”

York Sounds is a six-part concert-and-interview series my former employer planned to publish. Based on NPR’s Tiny Desk series, York Sounds should’ve become a platform for musicians to tell their tale and showcase that locals don’t need to travel to Harrisburg or Lancaster to see a great act.

York Sounds was my pet project. I brought it up during an annual review, and the four of us in the company molded the idea around into something that would look and sound incredible. Hell, we even filmed all of the footage.

Then, the pandemic happened: Things dried up, my photographer, Ken, and I were laid off and York Sounds was no more.

Months later, I find myself haunted about what that project could’ve been. At a time when we should’ve been analyzing the fruits of our labor, I’m left looking for work.

I’m far from alone when it comes to my situation. Even writing this post feels wrong knowing full well my situation is far better than those during this pandemic. I have my family, a roof over my head and our health. Hell, I have it better better even than most have it without a pandemic going on, so I'm sorry if this comes off as #FirstWorldProblems.

Through the years at the newspapers, I faced layoffs multiple times, and each time, I’d tell myself that I’d do the things I always wanted to do while finding a job: Visit new places, hone my photography skills and use the gym as my outlet.

The pandemic took that, too.

I kept an optimistic look on my face while my wife scanned the hospital room listening for the first cries you expect after watching an incredible amount of births on television. Seconds felt like hours as we waited and I could tell she was getting nervous.

Finally – “MEHHH”

Lucille Siobhan Machcinski was born on June 27, 2020. Up to that point, 2020 sucked. No job, no outlets, no foreseeable end in sight to a virus that cost us as a nation so much – but one nearly nine-pound baby turned that around for me.

As I type this, she’s sitting next to me chewing on a pacifier like there’s no tomorrow. It still feels surreal that she’s even here.

I’d always believed everything happens for a reason – moving, job loss, bad breaks, etc. all could be justified in my mind. Personally, being unemployed gave me the opportunity to spend the last month with my wife and daughter as we bond together as family.

I’ve accepted that the pain of the things we’ve lost will return like a kick in the gut when I least expect it. It’s unavoidable. But things will get better. Life will. And I can’t wait for the day that everyone is together again, talking about how crazy this time we’re living in is and how we used it to improve our lives.

To some respect, I’m already there now.

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