By Bradley J. Burt-Editor-in-Chief
Being a middle-aged college student during the pandemic felt degrading being labelled as “non-essential.”
Especially when those of us in the college classroom evolved virtually by the second. During the 11th hour before the world went into lockdown, college administrators declared all campuses closed with “stay at home” orders.
Teachers scrambled and students with no means of accessing laptops or technology dropped out. Being labelled non-essential was the reward they received while the students with wealth pioneered on.
Technological poverty played a huge part in college attrition based on access alone.
The best way to define being a “Non-Essential American” would depend upon where each person was when the world stood still. A great place to start would be retrieving livestream footage.
The footage would share the non-essential seeking socialization from their living room on the scene of COVID-19. Fear and loathing set the pandemic stage. The non-essential waited while confined to quarters scared to leave the house.
The non-essential would be viewed wearing fleece pajamas while being glued to the T.V. wondering when the two-week “stop the spread” fallacy would end. The best way to describe the feeling of being considered non-essential could be summarized with one word—useless.
Being a journalism major prepped me for being labelled “non-essential.” We get labelled non-essential in our field by our viewership who disagree our field is needed.
The journey through the non-essential desert of Nevada began in August of 2020. Although I was nowhere near Barstow, the world was batty from being stuck indoors for what seemed like nothing short of eternity.
The purgatory from “stopping the spread” messed the world up in the head. At least in Nevada anyway.
The story of evolving into being non-essential happened after traveling into the void of no return aboard United Airlines on a trip to Las Vegas. The self-funded trips began surveying the damage of the national lockdown for journalism research.
The pandemic segregated Americans between vaccinated, pronouns, and essential versus non-essential categories, which disenfranchised many who work hard for their paychecks.
The categories listed reflect upon the feelings and observations witnessed as a field reporter working remotely from home during the pandemic.
The only means for reporting the news came from staycations and blogging in virtual courtrooms. Convergent media styles began.
The reporter had to get creative by reaching audiences without meeting with their subjects on the beat.
Non-essential is not breaking news. No rhyme or reason.
Only people stuck at home loathing in their pajamas and dealing with the virtual blues.
The month of Nevrurary spanned during the months of March, April, May, and June in 2020. 2022 recalibrated us from a war in Ukraine to a new way of existential virtue.
The existential non-essential worker stayed home while the essential were recognized through empowerment during a pandemic of the commercial industry.
The back labor from sitting in the recliner all day was met with dust and remote-control lust. Being labeled as non-essential did not produce robust reward yet, the non-essential received a stimulus and those who were Las Vegas sex workers traveled the desert without reward.
The brothels and bordellos sat vacant. No patrons or guests visited them there.
Just the empty feeling of not having love. No government caring whether they lived or died.
The Nevada homeless residents went unvaccinated while suffering from delirium tremens with no passersby to feed their fix.
The non-essential vagrants living on the streets of Las Vegas migrated to the water tunnels. That was until the bi-annual desert deluge arrived.
The locals say the floods are nothing. No big deal. No thriving only living day-to-day. The non-essential of the pandemic were washed away.
Sitting in my hotel room staring out the window, I looked over at the television where the non-essential water tunnel dwellers were crying at City Hall for the city to warn them.
The drains of Las Vegas end up getting plugged during floods. The homeless who live below the city appeared dead and bloated when their corpse surfaced on the streets.
No welcome committee greeted them, and no Raiders football player wrote their name on their cleats.
The non-essential of Las Vegas dance on Fremont Street who break dance to dubstep on YouTube.
Most of all, the non-essential flew the friendly skies masked all day. Flights were cancelled without notice or repayment. The non-essential still pressed on with their meaningless life.
No corporation recognized their strife other than scraping data from their phone. For the first time in human evolution history, the human became a corporate commodity. Artificial intelligence made them feel restless and alone.
Non-essential Americans appeared like drifters coming out of cybernation.
The micro aggressive 45th president was on the television barking right there greeting them. The president lashed out violently come the election through the platform of Capitol Hill insurrection.
His voice sounded like a boil or an ulcer spiraling with infection shouting across the nation during a colonoscopy. The non-essential witnessed the prosecution during the second impeachment alter media evidence claiming their submissions as credible exhibits.
The prosecution exploited truth with no Constitutional consideration. Being a non-essential disabled protected class veteran has plagued me for 25 years.
The hardship of being non-essential tasted in my tears. The college journalism venture launched my non-essential documentary platform on the virtual stage.
The documentary has captured the vantage point of America during fits of rage. Loneliness and trauma from social isolation was not felt by the essential who worked through the pandemic.
What about my professors who taught in front of empty classes? Labelling them as non-essential would be classless.
Grace appeared during times of despair.
The divine and her energy meet us on the non-essential origin of error. She gave us this day of compassion. Her heart sees no human as disposable.
The non-essential label turned human bodies into digital avatars instead of providing the ends with merit. Merit no longer mattered. Human life is of the highest degree.
How could our America do this to me?
Grieving and gnashing of teeth fill the minds of those who experience non-essential grief. May we all unite as one.
The enlightenment of humanity happens with unity.
The pandemic refugee stuck at home tells the story. The non-essential Americans of COVID-19 took their cybernation into uncharted destinations from feeling useless while stuck at home on staycation.
Never had we witnessed anything like what happened March 2020. The non-essential are now the leaders of this nation.
Writer’s note: I hope the reader gains a sense of appreciation for those who are labelled as non-essential. The insight regarding my personal experience as a field reporter helps spark advocacy for those who need love. The use of stoicism, the cold truth about tragedy and the scientific value of being left behind, set the editorial tone. The project was abstract and needed to take off my reporter hat and really think colorfully. I hope to use this practice in future writings as a method of brainstorming flow with my fact-infused magazine copy submissions in Las Vegas and Hollywood where I write freelance under my pen name Robert Cobert. Journalists cannot write creative editorials under their published names, nor can they receive perks. I write creative nonfiction for my side hustle and find differentiating between two entities bleeds into each form of writing.