Storyteller: Megan Hoesman
Austin turned 18 in June, the middle of the Michigan shutdown. He grew up in Saginaw County with his family. Austin was not aware of the Coronavirus until his girlfriend told him about it at the end of February. At the time, the only way that the Coronavirus affected him was that his school had closed. Austin had the ability to continue to work because his job deemed him an essential worker. When he got home from work he would usually go see his girlfriend, but because of the virus, he could not see her. So he spent that time watching television.
Austin worked as a computer numerical control (CNC) machinist at a military, aerospace, defense manufacturing center in Saginaw County. His company had military and government contracts, which is why he could continue to work. He began working 40 hour weeks during the height of the pandemic. Austin was a part of a team of skilled machinists who fabricated parts out of different types of metal for the military and other large companies. Even though he was technically still a senior in high school, his main responsibility was to run multi-million dollar machines and to double-check anything his machine cuts. This meticulous work can be especially dangerous when his glasses get fogged because of his mask.
Through his experiences during the pandemic, he has both gained lessons and lost opportunities. He has gained an appreciation for the time that he spends with his loved ones. Austin learned to cherish the experiences that happen because he does not know if it could be taken away again. On the contrary, he has lost events like graduation, senior party, and saying his final goodbyes to friends. He also feels like he grew up too fast because he was shoved into full-time work without graduating. Most importantly, he feels like he lost friends because of a lack of contact.
Austin thought it was funny but sad when people take what authority says to the extreme, and wear masks in their cars or homes. He realized that people blindly follow what authority instructs, even if they are ridiculous. However, the pandemic taught him that the government uses every chance they can to take advantage of society, which helped him conclude that being self-sufficient is mainly good, but relying on those he trusts is okay too. It taught him to cherish those who come into his life, and that they, and the events he can be a part of, are blessings.