Blue Painter’s Tape—The COVID-19 Conditional

Esme Galvan, Senior Writer

I picked up my sister’s orchestra music sheets the other day. It always feels odd to return to your alma mater, especially as an alumnus. I am very familiar with my high school; the all-brick exterior, gray walls interior and even grayer doors. I was familiar with the hub of activity even after the eighth period bell rang and we were free to go. The usual traffic jam by the front door, the emptiness of the planetarium we never used. Once upon a time when I was a high school freshman, the warning bell was music on the intercom; some selections included the entire discography of Vitamin String Quartet. And of course, “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. The five minutes between classes became impromptu karaoke, with the melodies of noise, locker slams and creaks, sneakers scuffing on the floor plus students talking and walking in threes or fours.

The usual set up of the orchestra room is almost akin to a river delta, chairs facing the conductor. Each instrument in their section, each school binder filled with music sheets and matte paper protectors, for a gloss finish could cause a flare during a concert and lose a player’s focus. 

Now, the usual 30 or so chairs had diminished to fewer than 10. 

All spaced six feet apart, tiny squares closed off by blue painters’ tape. And now, not one student was in the hall, much less in the classrooms. The floors are spotless because no students have stepped on them in months. 

It’s not the same as it used to be.

At my eye doctor, the crowded waiting room of 20 had turned into a Clorox-scented audience of four. All chairs six, or more, feet apart, closed off with blue painter’s tape. Like a wet floor sign or yellow caution tape at a crime scene. 

Grocery stores are no different; blue tape to signal us to stay six feet apart in the candy aisle, blue tape by the sodas. 

Here at Texas A&M University-Commerce, it’s odd seeing our campus be so silent. I miss the classroom. I miss going to games.  I miss seeing my fellow classmates and my professors. I miss walking out of Ferguson and into the newsroom, or sprinting from Cool Beans to my next class, carefully placed green coffee stopper in my drink and the five minutes until class time deadline in mind. 

I miss the Caf. I look back and think with gratitude, of the luxury it was to sit with my classmates on a cold day and enjoy hot coffee in a plastic mug. How at the end of a long exhausting day, I could have a warm meal. How at the end of it all, I could still enjoy the deliciously sweet Caf cookies on that tiny blue plate. 

The hard work is being made to keep us safe and well-fed, a hot meal, a sweet dessert and a refreshing drink. A big thank you to Sodexo employees around campus. We appreciate you.

Times are unprecedented. Everything is different, and there’s the hesitant feeling of getting used to it. Do we get used to it? Will there be another rug yank to our lives? It’s hard to tell. It’s hard to find an answer. It’s normal to miss what life was before this. We’re only human.

This pandemic will pass, if and only if we are careful and follow protocols. This unprecedented equation is based on the human conditional; if and only if we take care of one another, we can slow the spread. In a socially distant world, we can still be considerate of one another. 

We can get through this pandemic, if and only if we are careful and do our part. 

After all, painter’s tape is temporary. It’s always meant to be removed.