Stranger Things: Pandemic Edition

Collection of weird things students have seen as a result of the pandemic.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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By Yaqi Zeng

Even before the pandemic, a normal day in New York was never actually normal. Think of the lady in the park commanding her army of pigeons, the people screaming at the deli, or anything in Times Square, really. And even though New York has been in lockdown for months, the craze hasn’t been silenced but has rather returned in full force. People in quarantine are baking sourdough and going days without seeing the sun. The Internet has gone corona-crazy, pumping out everything from pandemic memes to coronavirus T-shirts that nobody can decide whether to find funny or offensive. Even the school system, normally a sober presence, has also gone a little loopy after a semester of remote learning.

During quarantine, sophomore Marilyn Shi has gotten to know a more quirky side of herself. “Honestly, the weirdest thing I’ve seen from the pandemic is probably me,” she admitted. “I’ve done a lot of weird things. My TikTok ‘For You’ page is quite the reflection of that. It's full of minion love stories and Elon Musk filters.” In addition, Shi has been coding her own unusual games. She made her own game in Roblox called “Child Comes Out of You SIMULATOR,” which is Shrek-themed for any at-home pregnant moms with an affinity for Shrek to practice on.

Hobbies aren’t the only things that have become a little strange—so have Zoom classes. Sophomore Frances Schwartz noticed some wacky aesthetic changes in her classmates in the spring: “I do remember that there [were] two guys that came into the class meeting with hats on [...] One of them had a floppy beach hat on, and the other had a fedora, and [the teacher] said to both of them in that intimidating way he does, ‘Did you guys have an unfortunate haircut?’” Because all the barbershops were closed at the time, both students said yes. “It was so funny because you could tell it was [so] last minute,” Schwartz said. “They just looked [at] the Zoom camera and reached for the nearest covering.”

The strangeness does not end in our homes. For those who are able to go outside, it’s another place to witness events they wouldn’t have seen half a year ago. Senior Sean Fung noted, “The weirdest thing I’ve seen is [...] people grocery shopping in full out hazmat suits. There’s also this person in my neighborhood who I used to see walking around all the time in an astronaut suit and [...] protective helmet.”

Sophomore Anna Kathawala has seen similar scenes in Manhattan while buying groceries with her family. She recounted, “As we were walking down the street, we saw a man with two brooms in his hands, and he was holding them out to maintain his social distance.” While these stories describe people on the cautious end, there are also those who err on the side of danger. Fung saw that others have been working their way around wearing masks by inventing their own fishnet masks. To his shock, people on the Internet have commented that this invention saved their lives.

As the pandemic drags on, many aspects of students’ lives have deviated from the norm. From how their days are spent to bizarre attire, these new and quirky personalities and situations are all reminders that even when times get rough, New Yorkers always find unique and distinctive ways to get through them.