My husband, JuVon, works exclusively from home as an I.T. Help Desk Supervisor for a major retailer, where he supports the 24-hour stores in the U.S. and its territories. During a typical 12-hour shift, he assists callers on a variety of technical issues: from barcode scanner malfunctions to complex pharmaceutical equipment problems. The night of May 31, however, was anything but typical for him… or for any of us, really.
Protests against the atrocious murder of George Floyd quickly spread across the country, making their way to Lake County, Illinois - where we live. Our agency had been monitoring social media and learned opportunists were planning on taking advantage of the peaceful demonstrations. Every local agency in the area had all hands on deck in case things went south.
Around 11 P.M., my social media feeds started lighting up with live videos from our county’s largest city, Waukegan. Squad cars from all over lined the street, and while the police presence likely curtailed what could have been, looters quickly made short work of the area. I watched them swarm into businesses through broken windows and doors in a community I once lived. Fifty stores were hit that night.
I sent JuVon a text message just after midnight telling him what was happening as the looters started turning on our agency’s squad cars. His response:
Yeah, I just got off the phone with a store in Waukegan. They ripped out registers and left the pharmacy a mess. All this while employees were trying to leave for the night. They are currently trapped in the office.
One of those stores was his.
I asked if he was okay to which he replied he was, when really, he didn't have time to process it because he had more work to do - which also meant he had no closure. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? The next day, I asked him how he was feeling, and he broke down. It was a scary thing for him to listen to - not knowing if it was going to get worse. His job is to help people, and all he could do was listen - virtually helpless. It was then, as tears ran down his cheek, that he said:
I don't know how you all do it
I hugged him without mentioning that sometimes I don't know how I do it either. Honestly, this caught me off guard. You and I expect these calls. He didn't sign up for this, and I know this is something he never would have imagined happening during his career, and something he won't soon forget It made me wonder how many other people were indirectly impacted.
Toward the end of the conversation, I told him he should call them to make sure they were okay. I'm sure they'd appreciate it, and it would probably give him some peace of mind and closure as well. Today is his first day back at work since then and I don't know if he is going to call, but I hope he does. We so seldom get the opportunity and a big piece of me wants that for him.
We're only just at the halfway point for 2020, and she has packed some punches that have been unprecedented for modern times - with no signs of slowing down. It has had a tremendous impact on the way we live and the way we work, making it damn near impossible for us to check our emotions at the door. And yet, we punch in day after day without question.
We've adapted brilliantly to the changes COVID-19 brought us, whether it be through the implementation of masks, installation of plexiglass dividers, or even a complete change in venue! This has likely been the most fluid situation we've found ourselves in, and we've expertly navigated through the ebbs and flows of constant changes in policies at the work, local, and state levels, as well as all the phone calls associated with those changes.
Some of us were even forced to stay (or evacuate) as demonstrations and riots broke out directly outside of our centers. Honestly, if 2020 has proven one thing, it is that we are, without a shadow of a doubt, FIRST RESPONDERS. We have more than earned it at this point!
I'm incredibly proud of the amazing work you do every single day, and it would be remiss of me not give a special shout out to my awesome HTH team, and my work family at the Lake County Sheriff's Office. I continue to be blown away by your duty and your resilience. It's an honor to work beside all of you.
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