Tag Archives: coronavirus

Memorate of Racism and Corona Coughing

Informant: My editing partner told me about how she started having a coughing fit in class and the teacher actually asked her to leave. Like it wasn’t even the cough associated with Covid, it was a wet cough that she had been suffering from for a while. Everyone in class was freaking out even after she left.

Interviewer: She actually left the class? Do you think there was any racism as a part of it?

Informant: Oh it was racially charged. To say that it wasn’t racially charged would be f***ed. She’s f***ing asian.

Background: My informant and I were discussing the fear that was taking over the university campus and she brought up this story she heard from a friend.

Context:

Thoughts: The reason why I had to ask a clarifying question was because I suspected the student in question was Asian. At the time a lot of Asian students were facing racists slights such as this. It makes me wonder if the informant’s friend still would have been asked to leave the class if she wasn’t Asian.

Another variation of the infamous Quarantini

The following is a transcribed interview between interviewee and I. Interviewee is hereby further referred to as MH. MH was speaking about some of the things that Trader Joe’s, a local supermarket is doing for the COVID-19 pandemic.

MH: Today I made a sign for the store advertising quarantinis LOL.

Me: What does Trader Joe’s consider a quarantini?

MH: Oh, well a quarantini is just cinnamon vodka and apple cider. I’m not sure if that’s everyone’s definition of it, but that’s the recipe that all Trader Joe’s across the country are sharing. You should try it, it’s delicious and cheap and they’re flying off the shelves, everyone’s doing it. 

Me: No way, I have to get on that LOL.

Background: 

Interviewee works for Trader Joe’s, a supermarket chain that has been providing food services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Trader Joe’s, along with many other supermarkets have been essential businesses during the pandemic and the community of food service workers have been impacting daily life because they are one of the few who are still working. Further, supermarkets are one of the only in-person businesses still running, where many people will interact. 

Context: 

This interview was conducted over a video call between me and Interviewee, MH, so it was very casual. We are long-time friends and she works and goes to school in San Diego, CA. 

Thoughts:

It’s interesting because this definition of quaratinis is different from others I’ve heard. She says that it’s a specific recipe, but there are so many others. Some, like in an earlier interview I conducted, don’t think that it is a recipe at all, but a concept for any mixed drink made at home. It is interesting how much variation there is in this drink even though the people I’ve spoken to have all been from a relatively similar region and in some of the same communities.

Zoom Parties

This interview was conducted over a video chat between me and interviewee, hereby further referred to as NC.

NC: I’m going to a zoom party tonight. You wanna come?

Me: What’s that?

NC: A zoom party?

Me: Yeah

NC: It’s like a get-together or gathering of people, like a real party, except it’s all virtual through zoom. 

Me: Wait, but how does that work?

NC: Well basically someone hosts the meeting like hosting the party, invites all of their friends with the link and everyone can log on and talk or send chats, etc. It’s nothing like a real party but it’s still social interaction. 

Me: Cool, so do people get dressed up nicely like when they’re going to a party or is everyone still in pajamas and sweats?

NC: It depends who’s in the party. Like if it’s your close friends, everyone is just casual and in PJ’s but if it’s a big party with some people you don’t know you obviously don’t wanna look like shit on camera. 

Me: Ok, thanks.

Background: 

Interviewee is a friend of mine who has been picking up on a lot of slang from other friends and classmates. She is a senior at an East-Coast University, but has since moved back to the west since COVID-19.

Context:

This piece of folklore was collected during a video call between me and interviewee during the Coronavirus Pandemic. I have known the interviewee for many years, so the conversation was casual. 

Thoughts:

This is a new custom that has only begun because of the pandemic. Something like this, people meeting up online or even considering a “party” online would’ve been looked at as something almost uncool before the pandemic. However, now there is a big cultural shift into supporting and promoting technological meetups and even gaming. I think it is good that we are learning the possibilities of the tech world to bring us together and, maybe, we can change the way we socialize and interact from this.

Folk Medicine in a time of crisis

The following is a transcribed interview between me and interviewee, MH.

Me: How are you protecting yourself against the coronavirus?

MH: OMG, well I’ve been crushing up garlic and taking it like a shot in the morning with some hot black tea with honey in it to chase it. And all our stores are getting completely wiped out of garlic because everyone is upping the garlic to boost their immune system. Our stores are also getting drained of all our kombuchas because everyone is upping the probiotics. But I thought it was pretty surprising how fast the garlic has been going, it is like never before.

Me: Thanks so much.

Background:

Interviewee works for Trader Joe’s, a supermarket chain that has been providing food services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Trader Joe’s, along with many other supermarkets have been essential businesses during the pandemic and the community of food service workers have been impacting daily life because they are one of the few who are still working. Further, supermarkets are one of the only in-person businesses still running, where many people will interact. 

Context:

This piece of folklore was collected from a quick phone call when interviewee had just gotten off of work. The setting was very casual, as we were just talking to catch up and share some folklore.

Thoughts:

Garlic is a well-known and established folk medicine for colds. However, I think it is interesting how popular this remedy has gotten with the coronavirus since there aren’t any known medicines that work for it yet. I think that it is the lack of medicines for the virus that is leading to a large surge in natural medicine and ancient eastern remedies. However, most popularly is simply raw garlic cloves being ingested or eaten. And, even more interestingly, since the interviewee works in a supermarket chain, she says that their stock is diminishing across America. And so, maybe it is possible that all over America, people are desperate and trying anything that may help them fight off this virus. Their first source of medicine seems to be reaching for the tried-and-true garlic cloves. 
For some more history on this remedy, here’s a quick, easy-to-read source with some interesting information on the growth of this remedy: https://home.howstuffworks.com/garlic3.htm

Food Worker Slang

The following is a transcribed interview between interviewee and I. Interviewee is further referred to as MH.

MH: Better watch out, Miss. ‘Rona is coming for us!

Me: What does that mean? 

MH: It means that Coronavirus is coming for us all like an angry woman. That’s what we all call it at work so it isn’t so heavy. 

Me: So you call COVID-19 Miss ‘Rona?

MH: hahaha, yeah.  

Background:

Interviewee works for Trader Joe’s, a supermarket chain that has been providing food services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers have developed lots of folk slang during this time, some of which I picked up and was able to ask about. 

Context: 

This piece of folklore was collected from a quick phone call when interviewee had just gotten off of work. The setting was very casual, as we were just talking to catch up and share some folklore.

Thoughts:

Lots of slang has been cropping up about coronavirus, especially in communities that are on the front lines, like in food or medical services. It is interesting seeing that some of the people who are most exposed to coronavirus are trying to make a joke of it, even in just the name, so that they can lighten the tone of the overarching fear and hostility they may be facing in the workplace.

COVID-19 Car Parades

Background: AR is my college roommate and friend. She spent the first fifteen years of her life in Minneapolis, Minnesota before moving to Thousand Oaks, California for high school. She is currently in her twenties and attends school at the University of Southern California.


Context:
AR and I conducted this interview over Zoom, since this was amidst California’s Stay-At-Home orders for COVID -19. Both of our birthdays are coming up within the next few months, so we began speculating how we could celebrate without gathering a large group of people under one roof. AR brought up the idea of car parades, which I then asked her to elaborate on.

Main Piece:

(In the following interview the informant is identified as AR and the interviewer is identified as JS.)

AR: So for my friend’s birthday, her mom organized a little drive-by parade kind of “moment.” Um, and so her brother texted me and asked me if I would come at a certain time and I was like “Heck yeah I will!” Um, so, we surprised her on her birthday and people drove by in their cars and then me and her girlfriend, we got out of the car, and like, stood in her yard and like, had a conversation—social distancing! [Laughs] Um, yeah but that was kind of it because I had class after, so I had to leave early, but yeah it was like a little surprise moment. Yeah.

JS: Did you know about these parades before?

AR: No.

JS: Okay.

AR: But I feel like now that I know about them, like, I’m not that surprised by them, because I know that for a lot of medical workers people do like drive-bys with posters and stuff, so it’s pretty common…form of communicating in quarantine.

JS: How many people participated? Or like cars or whatever?

AR: Um, there were five cars and then two of them had like family friends in them, and then the other three were like me, her girlfriend, and then like another friend.

JS: Did you guys like dress up at all or make posters?

AR: Um, the family friends did—they made posters. Uh, I mean I guess I wore something nice?…Yeah. [laughs]

JS: Did you guys loop around the block multiple times? How’d you guys meet up beforehand?

AR: We didn’t meet up beforehand. So we all just, like, went to their house and parked on the block. And I texted her brother and was like, “I’m here” and he said “Okay, we’re on the patio”—they have a patio above their garage, and so I came out and stood in their driveway with her girlfriend and just chatted and then some other cars came by and just stopped in the street and said hi and then left.

Thoughts: I’ve also had the opportunity to witness COVID-19 car parades, though the ones I saw were far more disruptive than the ones AR describes. For her, it seemed like the “car parade” was mostly an excuse to come over and talk from six feet away. They did not honk repeatedly or circle around the block multiple times or blast music from their cars, as many of these car parades often do. Still, it’s a pretty clever way to socialize with people while “social-distancing” and provides an excuse for people to get out of the house. I’d guess that it’s a far more common occurrence in suburbs, where most participants have access to a car and don’t have to worry about blocking traffic.

Drive Through Birthday Party

Background: My informant is a friend of mine of Chinese heritage, though he grew up in the United States. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. 

Context: This conversation was recorded on a zoom meeting that we had on a Thursday morning. My informant is a friend of mine, and the conversation occurred in both of our rooms. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. We did not talk about much other than folklore because my informant had a final immediately after our call. The main piece is made up of a transcription of our call. 

Main Piece: Aight so I don’t think there’s like an official name for this but it’s like a it’s like a drive-through birthday party that has happened ever since coronavirus hit. So like one time, one of my friends birthdays was last week so then what happened was he organized it so that he like made a poster in his yard. And so me and a bunch of his friends and a bunch of his family, like pulled up in our cars and like we formed a line and we just like, we like as we drove by his house we would just honk we would like talk. And we would like have posters. We couldn’t do gifts because on the off-chance that we would be spreading coronavirus through the gifts but like some people had like cars that were like topless or like with a sunroof and like people would be standing through the sunroof and yelling and it was his overall a really good time

Thoughts: This is a bit of coronavirus folklore and discussed how coronavirus and the lack of in-person interaction has affected birthday celebrations. I think what is particularly interesting about this is that my informant did not know anything about the origin of the trend even though it has only popped up in the last two months or so. My informant says it is just ubiquitous now, which is fascinating and something that makes this celebration uniquely folklore, as it is ubiquitous without a discernible origin but almost universally adopted.

Homemade Anti-Viral Mask

Context:

The informant (MS) is a San Franciscan in her twenties who lives in a small apartment in Bernal Heights. She made these masks for my parents and I for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. California legislators issued an order to shelter in place and leave home only for essential errands. The government has recommended the use of protective masks in order to lessen the likelihood of respiratory transmission. She taught herself to sew the masks by reverse-engineering a homemade mask given to her by a neighbor and by watching several instructional you-tube videos. She made them because “it feels more personalized and cute rather than wearing the medical store bought masks.” She told me that it was “a fun project to occupy my time.”

Text:

Thoughts:

This is but one example of the many folkloric responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the early stages of the pandemic, authorities told us that masks would not help to protect us, a statement which intended to prevent surgical mask hoarding and mask shortages for healthcare workers. The CDC now recommends the use of cloth face coverings and has instructions published on their website on how to construct cloth masks from various household items such as t-shirts, bits of extra cloth, bandanas, and elastic. The construction of these homemade masks, owing to the difficulty of obtaining factory-made surgical masks, has proliferated as a form of expressive material culture in its own right. This mask, with its floral design, improvised folds, and double-sided fabrics is an example of one of these expressive, fashionable, yet practical coronavirus masks. For my informant, who has been unemployed due to the virus, the home project of creating these masks has helped to pass the time while in quarantine. It is also a means of helping out her family and friends. The colorful design expresses an indomitable playfulness and aesthetic concern invested even in the practical, state-mandated, and utilitarian cloth mask. It seems to express hope during the pandemic, or at least a care for preserving creativity and self-expression through what one wears. These masks have had their own fashion lives in the US, changing and responding to changes of style. People have been adapting their masks to express their own identities and even political beliefs. They have become a visual symbol for life in the time of coronavirus and a platform for self-expression and stylization throughout the suppressive necessities of social distancing.

Garlic Coronavirus Meme

Context: The following is a meme from the informant, my maternal uncle. It was meant as a humorous reaction to the announcement of social distancing in reaction to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Background: My uncle, being a surgeon, shared this meme that had been circulated by his fellow medical professionals.

Main piece: 

Analysis: This meme attempts to make light of a very serious situation and bring about some humor, especially because the medical workers who saw it were most likely very stressed and concerned due to the deteriorating situation. This was also likely a direct response to the announcement of social distancing and to keep six feet apart from others, proposing a lighthearted approach as to how one could ensure they would be following those rules.

Drinking Alcohol to kill Corona

Main Piece: One myth I heard about coronavirus is that tequila or any hard alcohol kills the virus. This is something I’ve heard not just about the virus but when you’re sick in general. It’s based on the fact that alcohol is normally a sanitizing agent so drinking alcohol would sanitize your body. The joke would be set up when someone is feeling slightly ill. Then when someone else hears about the illness, they sarcastically say that they should go take a shot of tequila.


Context: The informant is a current junior at Cal Poly SLO. She is one of many students that were removed from her school due to the Coronavirus pandemic. She encountered the joke from her classmates and peers.

Thoughts: This joke shows off the stereotypical college experience in which people drink a lot. This joke stems from another folk belief that alcohol sanitizes your system for any disease. I think it’s just another excuse for people to drink alcohol.