We picked up our camper yesterday. It was a little scary because it was the first time I was out of the house in over a month. We were very careful and avoided any close contact with other people. We got our camper and is safely parked in our backyard. We had a concern that when the repair shop closed for a month, today was their last day, the unguarded camper might be vandalized or robbed.
Now we’re back in the house safely away from COVID-19. During our drive, I asked Mrs. Lion if she was going to use the prickly jockstrap she had out the other day. She said she would. She also said that I probably would have hated it if she made me wear it on our trip to get our camper. I agreed and said that I would certainly be willing to do it if she wanted. Actually, it might have been fun. We have a lot of toys some of which have not been used yet. I’m hoping that play will become a regular part of our day. It will certainly break the monotony of being home 24 hours a day.
Neither of us slept very well on Thursday night. I think it was partly because our bedroom was getting too warm. Mrs. Lion, the dog, and I throw off enough heat to keep the room warmer than comfortable for sleeping. I still don’t have many details about being furloughed. There are still two weeks to work all the details out. Mrs. Lion’s office informed her that they plan to be closed until May 1. I think that’s pretty optimistic. I would be surprised if we get out before July 1.
During our work call today, I learned that there are vast disparities between how much different states pay for unemployment compensation. For example, Florida pays a maximum of $275 a week. Washington, where we live has a maximum of $790.New York is in the middle at $504. Depending on your regular salary, the compensation can be less. I don’t think the cost-of-living is that different to justify such wide disparity. If you add the federal weekly supplement of $600, it is a little easier to take in those low-paying states. That extra money will put us fairly close to our earnings when we work. We are lucky to be in a state with such generous benefits.
Mrs. Lion and I are also lucky because our employers consider us furloughed, which means that we continue receiving our normal benefits. Mrs. Lion’s job comes with health and dental insurance. Her employer is paying their share plus hers for the duration. My employer is doing the same. We have a much larger selection of benefits. Nobody is sure right now what will be covered beyond health, dental, and vision. We have FSA’s and HSA’s, as well as 401(k)s and employer-paid pensions.
I think that we both worry a little bit that somehow our jobs will be missing in action at the end of this. We both have assurances from our employers that this would not happen. More than half the workforce in my company is made up of contractors. This was an intentional move to protect full-time people. It gets a little tricky because some of the contractors we hire have skills that none of our FTE’s possess. Then it comes down to deciding whether we bring in the contractors or discontinue the projects that require special skills.
It’s all a matter of scale. Smaller businesses, like the practice my wife works for, have a lot less flexibility in terms of financial survival. Even very large companies, like mine, don’t have endless pools of cash. It’s unlikely they will go out of business, but it’s extremely likely they will return from this crisis smaller than when they went in.
All this uncertainty doesn’t even take into account that some of us might get sick. That’s a whole other worry. COVID-19 can be very deadly to many people. A recent study by the University of Washington revealed that at least 40% of the people who were put on respirators either die or can never be taken off. Some of the feedback from the field suggests the number with COVID-19 could be even higher. We’re going to work very hard to stay out of the hospital. I had my bad year in 2019. Fate owes me a break this year.
This is the stuff that keeps me up at night. I suspect similar thoughts are on Mrs. Lion’s mind too. Somehow we have to get past it and start having some fun. Let’s party like it’s the end of the world.