Richard Jax Photo courtesy of Richard Jax
Richard Jax

For some people, technology has proven crucial to getting through the pandemic. This Michigan man is one of them. 

MICHIGAN—For some Michiganders, the pandemic has been a time of isolation and loneliness as many have distanced themselves from family or friends in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

But for Richard Jax, a 30-year-old service adviser at a car repair shop in Greenville, Michigan, technology has made it so even when he’s socially distanced, it’s like no one is too far away. 

“As far as being lonely during the pandemic, I would have to say that it really hasn’t affected me much,” Jax told The ‘Gander. “I like to play games online and talk to friends on there, so not being able to see them, speak to them in person isn’t a huge deal.”

Of course, things haven’t been a walk in the park, either. Jax said he has felt the effects of the pandemic when it comes to seeing and visiting family for an extended period of time. But once again, technology came in clutch, he explained. 

“I have had some times that it has been lonely,” he said. “But with being able to facetime (his parents), it hasn’t been an issue.”

Jax says he remembers during the early portion of the pandemic, when he was still commuting to work but many others weren’t due to various safety measures put in place by their employers, traffic was almost nonexistent. He joked that it was nice to be able to commute to work without having to worry about other people’s driving. 

Another thing Jax said he has noticed change for the better since early 2020? 

“A lot of companies are working from home now, and staying that way,” he said. “This will help a lot of families be able to be closer in the times that matter the most.”

Jax said he began the pandemic working as a graphic designer at a west Michigan sign company. He said he made the decision to switch jobs and, ultimately, career paths in part because of the pandemic. Working conditions at his previous job, particularly at the onset of the pandemic, weren’t great, he said. 

“No employees were wearing masks in close quarters, (they were) eating food at a very small table together, acting like nothing was wrong,” he said. 

In his new line of work, Jax says he still commutes to work. Generally, his situation at work hasn’t been affected by the pandemic, aside from wearing a mask and sanitizing workspaces more frequently. Even the communications between him and customers have remained generally the same. 

“I still have to talk to customers face to face, but I do have ways of communicating through text or phone,” he explained. “So, I try to utilize those options first whenever I can.”

According to Michigan’s latest figures, more than 1 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus. Over 21,700 people in the state have died from complications with the virus. 

The numbers are alarming, but there are notes of positivity on the horizon, with the state’s vaccination numbers rising everyday. As of Oct. 19, more than 5.5 million people 16 or older in Michigan had received at least one dose of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. That constitutes over 68% of that population. 

Jax says he remains cautious about visiting crowded areas, but noted he does feel a sense of optimism that things are going to get better thanks to the emergence of COVID-19 vaccines. 

“It may be slowly, but it’s headed in the right direction, at least,” Jax said. “After I got the vaccine, going out in public doesn’t make me feel as worried, knowing that there is at least some kind of protection against what is going on.”