That was Then, This is…


woman wearing face mask
Photo by Anna Shvets on

So, as of yesterday, I was convinced I was a recovering flu-victim in a Coronavirus time in history. When last we spoke, I was headed back to work today. So, here’s what went wrong…

Here are the questions which have spooled through my mind this week:

  1. Do I have Coronavirus or just your average everyday kind of bug?
  2. Do I return to work now that I am improving?
  3. Is it more irresponsible to go to work or to stay home?
  4. If I stay home, will I have a store to return to in two weeks?

So, I’m an old veteran of the flu. I know what to do to beat that bug down. I know what it looks like, feels like, sounds like, smells like. Okay, forget I said that last part out loud. I’m no doctor, but I’m telling ya — I’ve got the flu. Except… if you put the symptoms list side by side with the Coronavirus symptoms list, there is just no way to really know I have the flu without going in and having a stick shoved down my nose. I would do it, honestly, I would. But other people need to more. Besides, from what I’ve read, in BC they have to send the swabs to a lab in Alberta and a fast estimate for results is four days. So, if I’m going to stay home four more days, I’m going to need help on my paycheck, anyway.

I work for Starbucks. They are amazing, and are paying two weeks salary for any employee affected by this pandemic. Kudos. Proud and glad to be working for you. Still, you don’t want to abuse an employer like that. You don’t want to take that money if you don’t have to. This is what was weighing on my mind last night as I contemplated the should I stay or should I go theme of my work life. Around 7 pm I called my mother for advice, but advice was absent. As of 8:30 pm, I was wrestling with, do I call my boss at home and get her advice — but since the store opener’s day begins at 4:45 am (ugh!), I am not even sure if she is still awake at 8:45, 8:47, 8:49…. make a decision already, Leigh!

I don’t want to risk waking Vanessa. I don’t want to bother her at home at night unless I must. I am a grown up. I can make this decision. I am going to work.

Tuesday, Maybe 9:30 (?) pm. Chapters and Indigo stores from around the country post to Instagram that they are closed. THE. WORLD. IS. DOOMED. Actually, all kidding aside, this kind of shakes me up. I mean, not in a scary way, but in a this truly sucks kind of way. Good thing I have a full bookcase of unread books to get through. Still, this news suggests the world as we know it just may be over. Also, it occurs to me that I have yet to collect my books from Bookland in Vernon, which was originally closing at the end of March, and I better remember to do that asap.

Wednesday, 6:45 am. Alarm on snooze.

Wednesday 7:05 am. Must. Get. Up. (shoves dog out of the way).

Wednesday, 7:35 am.  I’m headed into work, and in my car, the news has announced that P.M. Trudeau is going to speak. I listen as I drive, and he is very serious and solemn, and once again as I sputter out a cough and feel the back of my chest burn, I think, “What you are doing is irresponsible.”

And how backwards is that? When did it become irresponsible to go to work? This is a first for me. Uncharted territory. I do not know what to do. Honestly, I just want someone else to make this decision for me. Please! Someone tell me what to do!

I think that as lovely as she always is, my boss is not 100% happy with my showing up and saying, yeah, I’m not really sure I should be here. She wants to know why I didn’t call. (See above). But she gives me a kind-hearted smile (because she is awesome) when she tells they will be okay and I should go home and call the 811 health line. If they tell me to stay home, Starbucks will pay me to do so.

I dial 811 on my phone. For 15 minutes,  I continuously hit the redial button every time I get the all-circuits are busy message or the please call again message. Finally, I am connected. I am asked to hit a number if this is Coronavirus related — so I do — then I am put on hold.

person holding black smartphone near white ceramic mug on brown wooden table
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on

Except, hold sounds a lot like dead air. I put my phone on speaker phone. Periodically, I hit the edge of the phone to ensure I haven’t been disconnected. Even more periodically, a disembodied voice tells me they are experiencing higher than normal call volumes and if I am having chest pain or heart pain, call 9-11. I am reasonably certain I would have figured that one out for myself, but I suppose it is good to know.

Once in a while, really bad elevator music plays in-between the disembodied voice message, but not every time. That concerns me at first. I keep thinking I’ve been disconnected, and then the same four bar song comes back on line.  After over thirty minutes of waiting, I get a real live human, and she asks how she can help me. I tell her my little story (minus the self-diagnosis) and she says, I am going to send you over to a nurse to talk to.

Wait, like, directly?

Well, not exactly. Thirty-four minutes later, another real-live human speaks in my ear. At that precise moment, I am in the middle of a coughing fit, and it becomes one of the shortest conversations on record. Oh yeah, that right there, she says. With that symptom, you are home for two weeks.

Seventy-five minutes of hold music. Two minutes of dialogue. This ratio is off. Still, she is cheerful in the midst of what I am sure will be a very long day in a longer month, and she wishes me a speedy recovery to good health. I thank her, and in the meantime, my boss has texted me with instructions on her end. I am to call another number and Starbucks will instruct me on what to do next in order to guarantee my paycheck.

After one hour, twenty-four minutes, and a bunch of seconds, I am answered by one person who forwards me to a second person, who tells me my boss must fill out the paperwork and then I will be paid. They, too, wish me health, which is nice. Everyone is being very nice. Also, the Starbucks hold music is a significant improvement over the government’s.

While I’ve been on hold, I’ve been in group Facebook chats, informed the fam about what’s up with me, listened to part of the Economic Minister’s speech, and researched what to do if you need to file for Employment Insurance. Not for me. For a self-employed customer who runs Karaoke — not so much, right now — and for my daughter, who — crap — I drove home from work two days ago. Flu or no flu, she works for Indigenous Bloom, and since they will have to throw out all their product should an infected person breathe on it, she has now just been laid off for two weeks. Oops and double oops and no good deed goes unpunished and all that. Fortunately, she works for Indigenous Bloom — she has money in the bank.

And so, just like that, I am off for ten days with pay, which HAS NEVER HAPPENED IN MY LIFE EVER, or until that day passes plus I have no symptoms for 72 hours. And with this time, I shall read, cuddle the dog, sleep so as to get healthy again, refuse to stress about the future, and the obvious. Write.

God bless you all — may you stay healthy and be well in all aspects of life. To all impacted by the Coronavirus in all its potentially devastating ways, good luck. Thoughts and prayers be with you all.


Top Ten Things I’d Do after Winning the Lottery — plus bonus #11.

pile of gold round coins
Photo by Pixabay on

Today’s post brought to you courtesy of the lazy days of a three-day weekend, and the financial juggling mastermind which is me.

Lottery Winning Fantasy List:

In which, Leigh prioritizes, schemes, and budgets her way into the future. 


1. Quit My Job
Here’s the thing. I love my job. I’m lucky that way. I work at an Art Gallery, and it’s an inspiring, happy place to spend the day. Still, when it comes down to it, I’m a writer, not an artist. And if the salary weren’t in play, as much as I love the artworks, I love writing even more.
2. Pay off all Debts and Put Half into a High Interest Bearing Bank Account
I’ve done the math. And I’ve done the fantasizing. It really wouldn’t take that large a sum to enable me to live off the interest of a high interest bearing savings account for the rest of my life. I don’t actually have hugely expensive tastes. As a single mom, though, I’ve lived without for a long time; I’ve juggled between paying hydro and cable for too long. I’m running out of penny-pinching steam. I’d like to be solvent. Not richer than Zeus, but not shopping at Walmart, either.
3. Health Improvements
Once upon a time, I was fairly athletic. To go with the competitive nature and fun times were a couple semi-serious injuries which currently lower my quality of life. So, I’ve been researching things like massage therapy and physiotherapy, etc. So, yeah. This one is on the list. High up there on the list.
4. Purchase a Car I am Certain of with an Environmentally-Minded Fuel System
In the past three months, my car has had one minor repair ($450), one major repair ($3450), and currently has a leak in the front tire so needs a new set. Every day as I drive it to work, not only does its giant engine contribute to global warming — which I actually feel guilty about in an I-don’t-have-the-income-to-change-this kind of way — I’m also always wondering in the back of my mind, what’s going to break on you next? Not optimum.
5. Splurge on a Waterfront, Water-Adjacent Home
Just ‘cuz. I mean, this one’s self-explanatory, is it not? Me doing me. The dream life version.
6. Hire Bodygaurds for the Children
It would seriously suck to have my financial needs met only to have my wealth jeopardize the health of the ones I love. So, bodyguards.
7. Help Friends and Family and Other Worthy Causes
Even if this weren’t true, I think there’s some sort of lottery-winner requirement to say this. For me, it is true. Although, the people on my personal list might be surprised to find themselves there. My parents, who don’t hugely need the help, but they’ve always helped me, so I’d want to splurge on them. Fern, because she makes Thursday’s fun, and I know she could do a lot with a little, my kids, but not just in a free-for-all, never-have-to-work-again kind of way. Just in a, now-I-can-help-you-out-when-you-need-it way. But you still get to experience the joys of making your own way in life. Which is full of satisfying moments I wouldn’t want to rob them of. I’ve already had my share, so go ahead, Lotto 649 – rob me of them anytime.
8. Travel
Here’s the list:
Ireland, England, Scotland, Prague, Greece, PEI and the rest of the Maritimes, Colorado, Nashville, New Orleans, Oregon Coast, All the Gulf Islands, Grand Forks (lottery win not required), Alaska, Aruba, other miscellaneous warm places, German Museum of Books and Writing, the Black Forest, Auschwitz, Venezuela when it’s safer, Maybe New Zealand, Maybe Moscow, Maybe New Orleans. Hamilton, Ontario to re-visit the Herman H Levy art collection, Bill Reid’s art gallery, a whole bunch of art galleries across Europe, Maybe Rome and the colosseum, ANY WRITER’S CONFERENCE I WANT TO ATTEND ANYTIME, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD!
9. Write Novels for a Living Full-Time
I long for the day. My passion. My burning desire. My please, God, help me pull this off, my retirement plan. With or without the lottery, this is the goal. I’ve started. Am on my way. I have a plan, and a five-year goal. And today I bought a fridge magnet which says, Keep Going as if Success is Not a Question. Done deal. If, though, I won the lottery, I would do item number one on this list followed immediately by hiring a marketing assistant who could take all the work side of novel writing off my hands, leaving the creating side the FTG (full-time gig).
10. Seriously Catch Up on Sleep. The Middle Class Hamster Wheel is Exhausting!
You ever tried working a full-time day job while raising a family and putting the hours into pursuing your passion? Oy. I need a three-month nap.
– such as, go to concerts, buy a bookstore, start a scholarship fund for single moms, record an album, buy one of those big chunky wool sweaters they make in Scotland, start my own publishing house, turn one of my novels into a motion picture, buy a new mattress and a new couch and a new camera and a new… Etc.


PS – watch for Honey On My Lips, the new novel coming July 19 to Smashwords and Amazon and possibly a bookstore near you!

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