(Photo Source: Author)
Greetings and Salutations from Shanghai!
Captains’ log; Star-Date: 4/20/2022: We are now nearly through April and the lockdown continues...since coming into effect on March 28, it’s been nearly a full month in the Shanghai lockdown and things aren’t looking to get any better. It’s unreal here.
I was notified the day of, about nine hours before the lockdown went into effect. It was about 8 pm at night and lockdown would start at 5 am the next day. Naturally, since shops close at 10pm here... I thought I could do a quick supply run. Well thirty mins later I was at my spot... one of the only stores that I can depend on for foreign products and goods in terms of food, but I was far from alone. In that area of my district of Pudong, there are many shops and small markets. Most of which closed as soon as word spread. The ones that were open were overrun with panic shoppers...buying up all the food, water, and (yes America) toilet paper that was available. It was chaos. I just called it a wash and headed back.
Taking inventory at home...three cans of Chef Boyardee, two cans of baked beans, two packets of spaghetti, some spices like salt and pepper; a container of grated cheese, a bottle of buddy, Jack Daniels, and four boxes of CheeseIts. I know, not the best supply a guy can wish for but it’s better than nothing (and we’ll get to that). In the fridge: a six pack of beer, a pack of hotdogs, a container of milk, and leftover pizza. I am starting off this quarantine on a college diet. Water was the only thing I had an abundant supply of as I had done a large order three days previous. I thought...well its only two weeks. I was so naïve in my younger days...almost borderline idealist. I set for myself a ration plan of one meal a day just in case.
Two weeks pass (cue montage of me eating all the food I have for two weeks). We had been tested nearly every day with government hazmats doing throat swabs and sending them in for testing. They scan our health app code and register us and do the test. We usually get the results the next day via the app. Sometimes they don’t come and we do at home self-administered test, which are nasal swaps and the results need to be turned in before a time deadline. I have not missed a day and I don’t know what happens if you do. I don’t want to find out. I figure, based on what I have heard... miss a few days and they come and take you away to a quarantine facility. No thanks to that.
Community is everything. I live in a complex owned by the school I work for. Rent is covered and there are many teachers that live in the building. We get care packages from the school which usually consist of frozen meat and chicken as well as fruits and vegetables. So, my fridge is stocked full of meat and because I don’t eat the food that my food eats I donate my fruits and vegetables to the downstairs kitchen which has served as a place you can go when you are out of something. People donate a lot, from oil and spices, flour and eggs, to fruits and vegetables and such. It is really a very cool example of communism actually working on a small scale, as you just take what you want and leave what you want. It’s working (Surprisingly).
There has been a group chat set up by the building and the building does large bulk orders for bread and meat and other food items. That has been a life saver. More stores are opening up now... somewhat. Shanghai has switched to a three-zone policy that differs from the early whole city whole lockdown approach. The zones are preventative, control and lockdown. If you are in a lockdown zone…then it is like you have no freedoms to leave the complex and food orders are severely restricted in that zone. A control zone means there have been no new cases in your district for the past seven days. You can wander around the complex but cannot leave to go outside and food orders can be difficult, but manageable to do. Preventative zone is one in which there has been no new cases in the past 14 days. You can go outside within your apartment area for some sunshine and ordering food is more readily available and relatively easy to do. I am currently in a preventive zone and my familiarization with Chinese based food ordering apps has dramatically improved. Still kinda hit and miss though.
I spend my days during the week online teaching, as the show must go on. I make workout videos over the weekend, and they run during the week as PE class. I don’t actually live teach but have many grade level, subject level, and whole school meetings throughout the week that I attend. My nights are filled usually with some movies or TV shows, reading news and doing my Dungeons and Dragons group online and chatting with family when I can. I keep up-to-date on all the chat groups and look for orders to get when I can,
I don’t know how long this is to go on as I hear conflicting opinions: a week, two weeks, a month... and I figure just stop asking. Like Disneyland...we get there when we get there, so stop asking. Even as we traverse this never-ending void of space, there is still starlight in that space. That’s enough. I’ve lost weight and I have frustratingly struggled at times...but remain in good spirits. I’m keeping track of political situations, as keeping this up is not economically viable for China in the long run. So, there is some hope in that. Other than that, I got tested by the hazmats again today. It’s becoming common place. Going to stick with it and see this through. Don’t have much choice and complaining doesn’t solve anything.
So, best wishes to my family from Shanghai! This too shall pass. Captains log end.
This was originally a letter from the author to his family.
Drew has worked as an elementary PE teacher and Athletics Director in Shanghai for the past four years. When he is not locked down during quarantine, he spends his weekends coaching the basketball team and being social around town with friends. When he is locked down during a quarantine, he finds he has time for PlayStation and still thinks digital watches are a pretty neat idea.