Social Distancing Is Not In My Vocabulary


Lamar Qaddami

From left, Patrick Nguyen, Lamar Qaddumi(me), Ammer Qaddumi

Quarantine at the Qaddumi residence does not involve a lot of social distancing. We were advised to stay home and away from large crowds starting on March 16, but we already had our spring break Austin plans, and no virus would stop us from having a good time. We left for Austin on March 19 and came back on the 23rd. In the duration of the trip, we went on hikes, walks, and even rented a boat on Lake Travis. We took this trip with our close family friends, the Nguyen’s, and had a fantastic time.

“We are going on this trip to have fun, we aren’t going to treat this as an apocalypse, we’ll stay safe and we’ll be ok,” says Anan Qaddumi, father of four and one of 4 trip initiators. We went around Austin and its surrounding areas and saw many other families out and about, which made us feel safe and stress-free.

Even though the virus was at the top of every news outlet, it was not as prominent in Texas, as it was in other states and countries. There were different regulations for retail and dining; hours of operation, capacity, etc, the feel of the city was relatively the same. My brother, his friend Patrick, and I even went out at night and ate at both I-HOP and Whataburger.

“I’m here working at 3 am and I’m happy, I have a job and I can’t complain, I’ve got it a lot better than my friends,” says I-HOP waiter, Christian, who 2 days later, was temporarily unemployed due to the dining regulations in Austin. Even though my family and I were having a blast, there were many individuals who struggled to pay bills or feed their kids.

After returning from Austin, my brother and I both continued to see our friends and go out. The only real change that we felt at first was the shifted hours of many stores and the take-out only dining regulations. We went fishing, walking, and made multiple trips to the grocery store.

“We’ve seen each other so often that it doesn’t really feel like we’re in quarantine,” says Madeline Barran, my friend. I have visited her house more than 10 times and she’s been over to mine several times as well. Despite the temporary shut down or the shift of certain regulations of many restaurants and outlets, we have learned to have fun outside. We’ve had picnics, went on walks and just enjoyed the outdoors overall.

We even managed to hold a spontaneous seafood dinner with our Austin travel buddies, the Nguyen’s and ate some fresh, delicious seafood. I was only able to see my best friend once due to her strict obedience to the social distancing regulations, which saddens me, but I hope that the virus will soon pass and we will all be able to see each other again.

Despite the slight recklessness of our safety and precautions with the coronavirus, our family is safe and we will all hopefully stay that way for the remainder of quarantine. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m on my way to Maddie’s house.