Interview with Taycee Zach, 11/11/2021

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
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´╗┐MM: This is Michelle Miller. In this room is myself and instructor Grace Lim. I am interviewing Taycee Zach on November 11, 2021, for Campus COVID stories. Campus COVID stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh about their experiences in the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

TZ: Thank you for having me here

MM: First could you please pronounce your name and spell it out for us?

TZ: Sure. So my name is Taycee Zach, T-A-Y-C-E-E Z-A-C-H

MM: For the purposes of obtaining a good audio recording, please tell us again, your name, your major, and age.

TZ: My name is Taycee Zach. I am a sophomore. And I am majoring in multimedia journalism with a radio-TV film minor. Oh, and I'm 20 years old.

MM: Can you tell me about where you grew up?

TZ: I grew up. Well, I was born in Riverside, California. When I was a baby. I was born there. And then I moved to Wisconsin when I was five. And I have lived in Montello before I came here.

MM: Can you tell me about your parents? What did they do?

TZ: My mom went into medical administration and my dad is a fabricator. So he builds stock cars, race cars.

MM: Did you always plan on going to college?

TZ: Yes.

MM: Why did you specifically choose to go to UW Oshkosh?

TZ: I have family up here and it's an easier drive. I know the city well enough from coming up here. My dad used to race here when there was a racetrack. So I've always just kind of been around the city. And I just like, I like the radio-TV film program and I like the journalism program.

MM: Now let's move on to the early days of COVID. At the beginning of the spring semester 2020, where were you in your schooling?

TZ: I was a senior in high school.

MM: Can you tell me about the first time that you heard about COVID-19?

TZ: I remember sitting in the living room and my mom brought up, she saw an article about like, there was like a flu going on over in Asia or wherever it started. And I was like, 'Okay, well, you know, that's terrible'. And then I remember being in gym class,[1] and people were talking about it like, 'Oh, they're gonna let us out of school early. And I was like, What? Like, No, we ain't gonna get we're not gonna get out of school early'. And then I ended up going to homeroom after that and my gym teacher was the homeroom teacher. And he comes in the room and he's like, "Alright', and he starts passing out Walmart bags. And he's like, "You're going to have to pack up your lockers because you guys are going to be sent home for two weeks". And we were like, 'Why? Like, that doesn't make any sense.' They were vague about it. I don't think the school knew what was going on. And we all thought, 'Oh, like, it's an extended spring break'. And it was a much longer extended spring break than what we anticipated.

MM: So when was it when you first heard about COVID?

TZ: It was March? I think it was March. Yeah. Late February, early March.

MM: So where did you live during the shutdown?

TZ: I still lived at home with my family. I lived in Montello.

MM: Okay, so what was your feeling when you first heard about your high school closing down and that you were gonna go online?

TZ: It honestly stressed me out, I, you know, it's your last year of high school and you're expecting, you know, the senior skip day senior prom, you're expecting all the big, you know, the big shebang. And we didn't, we didn't get that.[2] And that was a big bummer. Like not being able to see my friends. And I also was taking MATC [ ? ] courses, like dual enrollment, I was doing college courses at the same time. So that was a struggle trying to juggle my senior year and online courses over at a college.

MM: Okay, what were your feelings about finishing? What did you find most challenging about finishing your high school experience online?

TZ: Well, for one Wi-Fi, because I live, I live out in the middle of nowhere. My parents do. So we don't have, I was having to use the data on my phone. We don't have a hotspot or anything. So that was a big struggle trying to do all that online. But like, especially cuz I was taking a speech course at the time. And we would have to record ourselves. Well, I would go to try to record and upload my speeches and they wouldn't work. Oh, so that was the biggest thing. Yeah.

MM: What do you think you missed out on?

TZ: That last little bit of time I had with my friends honestly because even with COVID. I feel like we grew up faster with it. We all sort of, we didn't get that last little bit of fun. Right before college, we all instantly jumped into work or people, I had friends that were already joining the armed forces. I had friends that were already doing online college courses because we had all this free time on our hands but we couldn't leave the house, either. You know, you had to be an essential worker, or you had to, yeah, doing something else. So I feel like a lot of us grew up too fast and we didn't get that last, even though it would have only been maybe two months, we didn't get that last little bit of time.

MM: Yeah. So then talking about your working, where did you? Were you working at the time of the shutdown?

TZ: Yes, I was. I was working at Walmart in Portage. And I worked for the, and I still work for, the online grocery pickup department.

MM: So what did you do for your job at Walmart?

TZ: The online grocery pickup is where people place their online orders. So instead of them coming in the store to get it, we get your shopping list. And then we go shopping and we get it for you. And then you come at your scheduled time to come pick it up and it is all ready.

MM: So how did your job change when the pandemic first hit?

TZ: We were the most essential part of Walmart because the store itself was only open from. What was it? It was like from seven to seven at night. Whereas my department was open from like 6 am to 9 pm. We were constantly open because the people who were like immunocompromised, they were utilizing our service. And then people with kids were utilizing our service. We had a lot more customers than the store. The store was, it was like a ghost town. It was like tumbleweeds like nobody was in the store, but our parking lot over on the side of the store, full, all the time.

MM: So when the pandemic first hit there were people talking about how you have to stock up, when did you first start to notice the public panicking?

TZ: Honestly, so okay, when COVID happened, I ended up picking up longer shifts. I was like since I'm an essential worker, I might as well instead of working you know, four to eight after school since I have all this free time, I'm going to do noon to eights. So I was seeing the rush all the time, of those like those eight hours, was seeing all these people coming in. And the first time I noticed there was a panic was, I remember me and my best friend walked in. We work together. We were walking in, and we looked down the soup aisle, and there was nothing. I have never seen the canned goods aisle so empty before in my life. And I was like because I've seen the toilet paper aisle empty. But I've never seen that aisle of everything empty and it was like doomsday. I was like these people are like 'holy crap.' Like this has to be important. It's like doomsday prepping and it honestly scared me. It was scary.

MM: Were you scared about Coronavirus when you first heard about it?

TZ: Honestly, yeah. Being on the frontline like that. And I remember walking in and we all were given like protocol. You had to carry hand sanitizer on you. You had to keep your distance. You had to mask up, that whole thing. We had people wearing gloves. And yeah.

MM: Okay, so how much were you paid at the beginning of the pandemic?

TZ: I was paid $11:50, and I kept getting if you were part-time, you got a $150 bonus. And if you were full time you got a $300 bonus. And it was I believe they were doing it like every month. Like one week out of the month, like one paycheck. They were doing that. And so I only worked part-time so I was getting $150 bonuses, but now I'm I got a $3 Raise. So I'm making almost $15 an hour.

MM: Well then, for the pandemic did the worker shortage affect your job?

TZ: Honestly. In other departments of the store, yes, but in my department no. We were actually since we were so essential, we were hiring the most that we've ever seen. And like I said with people, you know kids being out of school and everything. All of us were coming in and helping because they just needed help. So if anything we were so overcrowded, we were being transferred to other departments to help stock the shelves and unload trucks. So yeah.

MM: Did you feel like you were risking your life when you first started working during the pandemic?

TZ: Honestly, yeah. Sometimes it was pretty scary. Like the whole being sick thing. I was really worried because I live on the same, well my parents, when I was still living with them. We all live on the same property as my paternal grandfather and he's immunocompromised. So I was always worried. When I came home my parents would make me put all my clothes in a trash bag and then my mom would lice all my stuff down. And then she'd washed all of my stuff separately. I was really worried about bringing it home and bringing it to my family. And then my sister, she's nine. So I was worried about her too. Especially her and my grandpa. Yeah.

MM: Did you isolate yourself from some members of your family?

TZ: Um, honestly, yeah. So like, at the very beginning. Yeah, I kind of kept my distance. Just like if I came home late and stuff. Yeah, definitely. I'd take, like how my mom would spray me down and stuff, I'd take care of it myself. I'd keep my stuff separate. I'd keep myself separate. Because like I said, being worried about my grandpa. My dad and my grandpa work together, building the race cars. So I was always worried like, Oh, if I, if I get sick, and I give it to my dad, he could give it to my grandpa, and it would just be this huge, you know, it'd be a domino effect.

MM: So then going on to schooling, how was the transition between inputs and classes to online classes?

TZ: Like in high school? That wasn't too bad for me. The high school classes, I was only taking a gym class and I believe in art class because I was just done with all my credits. So my gym class, all you had to do was you could either send in videos of yourself doing exercises, which I did not want to do. Or you could just do things out of a packet and take a picture, like to prove that you were doing it. So like you made a bingo card with different exercises to do and stuff. So I made a bingo card. And my sister was my, my model. So I would take pictures of her doing the stuff. So it wasn't too bad. But like the college courses I was taking like I said earlier, that was pretty hard to do with the terrible Wi-Fi and everything else. But otherwise, no, I managed pretty well I think.

MM: How many hours a day did you spend on school?

TZ: Not too much. I'd only say maybe two hours because I was going to work at noon, noon to eight, so it wasn't too bad.

MM: So going on to college? Oh, actually, did you have a high school graduation?

TZ: We did. And we had one ceremony where you walked yourself across the stage and that was honestly really sad. Because, you know, it was very in the door, out the door. I walked in, they draped the stuff on me. They took my picture, I walked myself across the stage, I smiled at the camera again. And then as soon as I got off the stage, they looked at me and went, 'Okay, bye.' That broke my mom's heart because she always wanted to, you know, see me be with my class and do the big thing they didn't even play. What's the song that they play? I can't think of the song. But, um, they didn't play. It was just me walking across the stage with no music, you could just hear the clicking of my high heels. And when we walked out of the building, my mom started crying. Because she just, she felt so bad that like all of us kids didn't get a real ceremony.

MM: So how prior to COVID-19, how excited are you about going off to college?

TZ: I was so excited. I was so pumped. I was ready to because in high school, not to make myself sound like you know, like, I'm not like other girls. But it was always hard for me to find my niche, my people in high school because I went to such a small high school. And I was excited to come to a bigger college and hopefully meet people that have the same interests as me and are into the same, you know, artsy stuff that I'm into. And I was mostly excited about the people and getting to take bigger and better classes, find more opportunities for things.

MM: And how did you feel about living away from your parents?

TZ: I've always been kind of excited about that. I love my parents, but I was excited to find independence, you know, be on my own. Even though I'm living with my great-grandma right now. But she works. When I'm at school, she's home. When I'm home, she's at work. So it's like I just kind of have a roommate, you know, it's not like living with family. I'm kind of on my own.

MM: So how did the pandemic affect the way you were preparing for college life?

TZ: I don't want to say I expected the worst, but I didn't have as big expectations as what I would have had if there hadn't been a pandemic. With there being the pandemic I didn't worry so much about not making friends because I was like, you know, everybody else is going through it. I wasn't worried as much about it. I was bummed, but I didn't let it affect me. I never got super upset about it. I guess I learned to cope with it early.

MM: So how did the pandemic make you consider your schooling? Did you ever consider a gap?

TZ: I did not. I did not. I was like, No, I'm going to go ahead, we're going to do this, we are going to get through it. No matter what life puts in our way. We are going to do it. I was so ready. That's my thing is I've always tried to be optimistic throughout all of this. I've always just tried to keep a clear head and keep my chin up.

MM: Okay, then going on to your family. How was your relationship with your family during the pandemic?

TZ: I think we were pretty good. We were pretty good. The only time it was kind of harsh was when it all first started and we were all pretty worried about it. But otherwise, it's always been pretty good. I think we handled it very well. Like my mom was still going to work. My dad works on the property, but he's in his own building. So it was mostly just me and my sister all the time. So it was normal for us in a way. We tried to make it as normal as possible.

MM: So how was your mental health when Coronavirus first started?

TZ: I remember at first I was pretty confused. Like I wasn't really upset. I wasn't really, like angry. I was just confused about everything. It didn't honestly, it didn't really hit me mentally until I'd say probably May because that's when I was supposed to graduate. It was like the day of my scheduled date of graduation. I remember I was sitting on the couch. And I just started bawling. Because I was like 'God like I missed all of that.' I have and we are all missing that. Yeah, that hurt a lot.

MM: Did you ever go back to high school? No,

TZ: No, I did not.

MM: So how did this pandemic affect your personality?

TZ: Well, that's a good one. I will say and I think a lot of people can agree, I kind of turned into for a while I was pretty negative. Because I had a lot of things going on that I was supposed to do. I was going to go see my favorite band and concert and I got practically front row seats. And I was really excited to do that. And that realizing I wasn't going to be able to do that, that that really put a damper on everything. And like I said, I was really excited for that. There were a lot of other things like school and everything I was super excited for. And that it put a damper on everything it made me angry at the world like, at first I wasn't too upset. I was trying to be as optimistic as I could but I did go through a little phase. And I like I said, I think a lot of people can agree, where I was angry, I was frustrated. I was upset. And I didn't know how to handle it, but I eventually got back into me being me.

MM: What band were you planning on seeing?

TZ: Deftones. My favorite alternative metal band in the world.

MM: So did the amount of isolation lead to any substance use disorders for you or your family?

TZ: No, no, we're all good.

MM: Going back to college, how did you feel about the protocols that were in place in fall 2020?

TZ: I think they were all necessary. I think the school did a really good job with handling everything, you know, the testing and the masking and all of that. I have no complaints with that. I think everybody followed them relatively well because I was hearing horror stories from old classmates like at their college. I had one classmate get banned from school for 30 days because she refused to wear a mask. And then I had another friend who lost a baseball scholarship because I don't think he wanted to wear a mask. There was something like he went to school with COVID, something happened. I had a lot of people around me at other UW schools just like losing scholarships, losing a spot on a team, and all this. I think I said, I think I haven't heard anything about anybody here doing that kind of stuff. So I think we all handled it pretty good. I think we still are handling it really well.

MM: So in fall 2020, how many in-person classes did you have?

TZ: In Fall? I did not have any until I had a six-week course at the end of the fall semester and that was in person.

MM: How do you feel about the professors like helped you through the online classes?

TZ: I actually, I did probably my worst that fall semester because math wasn't going good. I had a math professor and every time I would ask for help I was told to go see a tutor. Well, tutoring was not open. So I ended up failing that course and I had to retake it. Then my history course we only met up once every two weeks for video chat, but he would do it on Google or on Microsoft Teams. And for some reason, I cannot use Microsoft teams to save my life, no matter what computer I use, it just does not work for me. And so I would be in the meeting like I could see everybody talking but it would say I wasn't there. So he was docking me all of these attendance points, but I was there. So I had to start taking screenshots to prove like no, 'I'm, I can hear you. I'm here, but you just can't see me.' So yeah, that semester was really hard, really hard.

MM: How many hours a day did you spend on college work?

TZ: All day, all day, I would get up at I'd say 7:30 - 8:00 o'clock, and I would start doing homework, start going to lectures by nine 930 and I would not stop. There were some nights where I would stay up till 2-3 In the morning, trying to do stuff just trying to catch up and all that.

MM: How many classes did you take and fall? 2020?

TZ: I took? Oh, I believe I took four or five? Five? Yeah, five.

MM: And then how you were living with your great-grandma you said earlier. How much time did you spend on campus?

TZ: I was trying to be here as much as I could. So even if like, even days where I didn't have a lecture, I would still come on campus just to get, you know you associate school with homework and trying to do homework at home was always way too hard for me, she still does it, but my great-grandma, I'll be doing homework, I will be taking an exam on my computer, and she'll come over 'What you're doing?' And it's like, no, like, I can't concentrate, or she dims the lights, and it's so dark in that house, I just get tired and you associate the couch and the bed with sleep. So it's too hard to do homework at home. And I'm still like that. So I'm always trying to find ways to go on campus. So when everything was closed, I was still on campus. You bet I was still here at nine o'clock and I'd stay here until at least three trying to get stuff done.

MM: So did you make any friends in the fall of 2020?

TZ: I only made one friend. I was set up to hang out with her through a professor because we were both commuter students. She was an exchange student from Nepal and she was super cool. It's just we hung out only, I'd say two times. And she's a great girl. We need to catch up. I have not seen her since last year.

MM: So are you introverted? Or extroverted?

TZ: I am very extroverted, very extroverted.

MM: How did the online classes affect you're just I don't know, your mental health, you weren't able to make any ----

TZ: connections. That was hard because like I said, I'm very extroverted. I'm also the kind to, like, it's a blessing and a curse. But I've always been kind of the one I will make comments in class, like not inappropriate comments or anything, but I'm always just, I want to get a discussion going. I like talking, I like getting involved. And that's really hard when on Zoom, you know, you have to click the raise your hand button and then wait to talk. I'm not used to that. And yeah, that. That's hard. That was hard.

MM: So what was campus like during the fall 2020 semester?


TZ: Wellbeing on campus, like when I was here, it was empty. It was really empty, like, because I remember, I always go and study in Reeve because I like that it's not too quiet, but it's not too loud. Well, I wasn't prepared, because when I would go and study in Reeve around lunchtime, it'd be empty. Nobody would be there because people would be getting their lunches and going to their dorms or whatever. So I was like, 'Oh, well, it's quiet here.' Well, spring of last year, spring of this year, and fall of this year, I tried to study in Reeve around lunchtime and it's booming. There are so many people in there and I'm like, 'Oh, why isn't it quiet?' And then I'm like, 'Oh, wait, duh.' Because people are out now, people are getting out there and involved again.

MM: So talking about spring of 2021. Were there any major changes in on-campus life in spring?

TZ: For me, personally, not really. There wasn't much of a difference. I had more in-person classes, but in terms of making relationships and that kind of thing, no, nothing, nothing changed. But I will say I was more confident in maybe that's just because it was my second semester of college. But I was more confident with asking for help. So and like with my math course, since I had to retake that and that was all online, my first semester. I made sure I took an in-person math class, which I ended up passing.

MM: So did your interactions with other people change? Did you become a less social person?

TZ: No, no, I've always, I have a lot of friends that I've kept in contact with that live in different states and stuff. So I've, despite there being a pandemic, I've always sort of I've always talked to people at a distance anyway. So I've always, I make sure I call people, keep that interaction going. I don't just text people. I'm always, like my best friend, she lives in North Carolina. Always on the phone. I'm always calling her. So no.

MM: So do you still live with your great-grandma?

TZ: Yep.

MM: Do you have to take her age into account in your activities?

TZ: Honestly, no. Because I don't party or do anything crazy. The latest I'm in at night is like maybe nine o'clock. No, she's cool about that. She's always like, 'Oh, if you want friends over, just invite them over.' Like, 'I don't care.' And no, she's cool. She's 88 but she's very much still young at heart. She's cool about all that. She's always the kind, 'I don't care what you do, just be careful.'


MM: So talking about your isolation, how long did you spend isolated? Did you ever spend any time isolated?

TZ: No, not really, that I can think of off the top of my head. No.

MM: So were you involved in any clubs?

TZ: Okay, I tried getting involved with the writing club. But I went to the, there was a Zoom meeting, and I went to the Zoom meeting. But nobody, nobody joined it. And I'm like, 'Well, maybe it's something on my end'. Well, turns out, I emailed the girl running it. And she was like, 'Oh, by the way, we're not doing this anymore.' So because of that, no, I didn't join any clubs either fall of 2020 or the spring of 2021.

MM: Did you join any clubs this semester?

TZ: Oh, yeah. I am the Social Media Manager of the International Film Society. And I am part of the film society right now. I do the one-three jazz shift for WRST on Fridays.

MM: So how high was your anxiety about contracting Coronavirus from the beginning to now?

TZ: It was pretty high, especially with me working at Walmart and touching everything and being around so many people all the time. Yeah. I've always been. And you know, I'm going, to be honest. I'm never necessarily worried like, 'Oh, if I get sick', it's always 'if I get sick, this person's going to get sick.' I'm always more worried about the people in my family or my friends.

MM: How did your anxiety change throughout the pandemic? Do you still feel as anxious as you do that?

TZ: No, I don't. I feel a lot, I don't want to say comfortable because this isn't something to get used to. I will say like with everything going around and new things coming out I think it's a slow but sure process. It's baby steps. I think we're all slowly getting better.

MM: Did the vaccine make you feel safer?

TZ: Yeah.

MM: How many times did you get tested for COVID?

TZ: With me being a commuter, I always make sure I get tested at least once a week and, working at Walmart I went and I'd get tested. Just for work. Just to be safe for everybody.

MM: Are you vaccinated?

TZ: No, I'm not.

MM: Do you know anybody who ended up getting Covid?

TZ: My dad ended up getting COVID and I couldn't go home. I was in the fall of 2020, he got sick and I did not go home. I ended up just taking like the two weeks off of work since it's not that I went in contact with him. It's the fact that I couldn't go home. Like, I couldn't go to work because I couldn't go home. There was nowhere else I could go to stay to go to work. I wasn't going to drive from Oshkosh, all the way to Portage, which would be like an hour and a half, you know, for just two days on the weekend. So yeah, I just took a precaution there and didn't go home and didn't go to work.

MM: So how did you feel?

TZ: With my dad, he was pretty sick. He was, yeah, he was on the couch. He didn't. Instead, I don't know why. But instead of staying in the bedroom, he wanted my mom to have the bed so she could sleep and go to work. So he took the fold-out couch because we have one of those couches that's like the pullout bed and he slept in the living room. So yeah, my sister and my mom just kind of hung out, like in the kitchen, or in their rooms and my dad had the living room. That sucked like not being able to go home and see him because like, apparently it was really bad. And thankfully, he doesn't have, how there are those long-lasting symptoms that people still have, thankfully, like knock on wood. My dad still, he's fine. He doesn't have the respiratory issues going on. He's a trooper. He had a stroke when I was 14. And he's always just, Oh, he's so tough.

MM: Were you worried about him when you first found out he had COVID?

TZ: Yeah, I was really worried. And then like, yeah, and I was like, 'Well, are you like, you guys sure'. And then he got tested and yeah.

MM: What were his symptoms?

TZ: I remember him saying he couldn't talk. His whole body hurt. He didn't want to get up off the couch, even go to the bathroom. I remember calling my mom once just to ask and I could hear him hacking in the background. Like he was coughing so loud, but it sounded like a dry cough. And my mom said he was really like he was wheezing. So yeah.

MM: So you were at campus doing all this?

TZ: Yep, I was still up here.

MM: Did that affect your schoolwork?

TZ: No, I won't say like, of course, I was stressed out but I would make sure my mom would keep me updated. So just to, you know, it would put me at ease. Like I was still worried. But she'd be like, 'He's okay.' 'He's doing okay.' And that would just, it would keep me at ease for a little bit. And then I call again, 'Hey, how's he doing?' But no, I managed.

MM: Were there any treatments available at the time?

TZ: Not that, No, I don't think so. No.

MM: So how did you spend your free time on campus aside from studying. Was there anything else that you did?

TZ: My free time. I remember I watched a lot of movies. I know a lot of, I'm not a movie watcher. I'm a music person. So I watched a lot of movies and I am still into it, but I got into Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So I'm still keeping that going. But on campus, I started writing and making a mini-magazine full of collages and just art that I've made. And so that was kind of just like a stress reliever for me. And I liked Starbucks on campus. So I would even drive all the way out of my way just to come and, you know, get my chai latte.

MM: So then, how do you feel about things getting back to normal?

TZ: I think we still have a long way to go. But I think like I said baby steps. I think it's a slow but sure process. And I think we're getting there it just might take longer than what we all hope and expect you know,

MM: Do you think it'll ever go back to normal like it was before?

TZ: Not for a while. Even though things may seem normal, we're all still going to be worried. There are still things to worry about. You know, you never know. You never know. We didn't expect this to happen. And you don't know what could happen tomorrow? It's one of those things you just never know.

MM: Did it change your perspective on life, the pandemic?

TZ: Don't take stuff for granted. That's what I've learned the most about this is like, like, yeah, family time and stuff. This isn't necessarily me but my best friend that lives in North Carolina, she just lost her grandfather to COVID. And that's what she told me too, is like it. She just got in a fight with her grandfather before it happened. And then he passed away. Seeing things like that it's made me develop more of a perspective of yeah, don't take things for granted. Don't take people for granted. And also, like being at Walmart and seeing the way people were treating each other. I remember walking by with my shopping cart, doing my online grocery shopping for people. I look over and a lady is stealing Clorox wipes out of another lady's shopping cart when her back is turned. And it's like being treated seeing people being treated like that and then being treated the way I was by people. I did not always have the most appreciative customer. I had a lot of people calling me names. I had a lot of people just treat me like garbage, even though I was there doing the work for them. It taught me to be kinder, and treat people with kindness because you never know what they're going through. Just because you're having a bad day doesn't mean you need to make somebody else have a bad day too.

MM: Did you see anybody get into fights when you worked at Walmart?

TZ: Yes. And I got one myself because I was not on the clock but it was after work. Me and my coworker, like one of my best friends, were walking out. And I said, 'Oh, I forgot. We need toilet paper in my house.' And we genuinely needed toilet paper at my house. We were down to like one roll and we were not stockpiling. My mom was like, 'please just find something.' And so there was a pack of four. And I was like, 'Oh, that's perfect.' So me and my friend are rushing over there to go get it. I don't know how this happened. But some lady swoops in with her cart. And she gets up to it. And she goes to take it, but I climbed the shelf to get it. I was not even paying attention to her. And I climbed in, I got it. And she snatched it out of my hand. And I still had my Walmart vest on and she was like 'you're on the clock.' 'You work here.' And I'm like, 'No, I'm not on the clock.' 'I just clocked out.' And I ended up having this argument with this lady. And I tried explaining to her I'm like, 'No, we need this at my house.' And she already had all this paper towel and a bunch of other stuff in her cart. So I know she was just stocking up on it. Then I saw people stealing stuff out of people's carts. I saw people getting into arguments. I saw one lady scream at another lady out of a car window for not wearing a mask. I saw a lot. Oh, and the toilet paper who got the toilet paper? I did. I did. She gave up because. We not to make myself sound terrible but a manager came over. I was not a Karen, I did not get the manager. She stopped the manager. I explained to him what was going on. And Jeffrey let me go with the toilet paper. He went, and I think he found her some in the back if there was any. But uh, yeah, he just let me go. He's like, 'just go.'

MM: But how long were you fighting with this lady?

TZ: I'd say probably 5-10 minutes. it was ridiculous. And then plus, I just got done with like an eight, nine-hour shift. So I was already like an emotional, just drained thing. And I wanted to cry because it's like, lady, I'm just, I need this like, we genuinely need this at my house. The pandemic, in terms of my job, was very emotionally draining. Then there was another time too there was a woman that couldn't afford it because we were raising prices, she couldn't afford baby formula. The kind that she needed wasn't there. And so I remember seeing her and her husband and she was crying in the aisle. That hit hard. That hurt because we had people like 'oh, you have everything you know your Walmart.' No, we don't have everything. Not even in the back. We don't have everything. And so this lady, the whole baby formula shelf is almost empty. There was only one kind and it was too expensive. And it was something like her baby couldn't have that kind. I think her baby had a sensitive stomach. But yeah.

MM: So are there any aspects of yourself you think COVID has changed? for good.

TZ: Like I said I think I am more appreciative of life and people. Not that I have ever been rude to people in food service or customer service jobs, but I am a lot more patient with them now. If I go out with my parents and my dad says something like, 'This person is taking forever.' I am just like, 'No, just stop.' 'Don't be a jerk.' I have seen a lot and I have dealt with a lot. I've cried in the break room before over this. I learned to be more appreciative of customer service.

MM: What about the world? Do you think there are aspects of the world that are forever changed?

TZ: I am not sure. I think it is subjective depending on who it is or who you are talking to. I hope that lots of people have the same outlook that I do and kinder and more cautious about things and just more appreciative of life and whatever life throw at you, all the good things.

MM: Do you have anything else you want to add?

TZ: Not that I can think of no.

MM: Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to Campus Covid Stories at UW Oshkosh

TZ: Thank you for having me

What was life like during this period How long did it take for you to figure out that you would never go back to school?