How to survive 500 days of Covid

By Sunday 8 August we will have had 500 days of Covid in South Africa. What have we learnt over this time? Tongue only slightly in cheek, and in no particular order, here are two dozen things that I, as a freelance journo, have come to realise:

Freelance life

1. First of all, until March 2020, I had never capitalised the first letter of Zoom, the word was for cameras or racing cars.

2. Laptop screen designers need to figure out a way of putting the camera in the middle of the screen so you don’t all look like you are avoiding eye contact with me in meetings.

3. Screen fatigue is a thing: yes, people are fed up with the avalanche of information the media (and that includes you and me) try to feed them every day.

4. Otter may be a cool transcription tool for the US and UK, but it does not speak South African and mangles our names, as seen by:

  • Gugu and Fikile – Google and Felipe
  • Jacques Bam – shark bum
  • Dr Zithulele and Dr Du Toit – Dr Citronella and Dr Detroit

Otter is just as hopeless with place names:

  • Transkei – Tron Sky or trans guy
  • Lusikisiki – the sticky sticky
  • Tsitsikama – city karma

5. I’m glad I bought an inverter. It means I can stay connected during power cuts plus, as it’s a work expense, the cost is tax deductible.

Slob is the new snob

6. I can save water if I don’t shower every day (here in the Eastern Cape we are having a hectic drought).

7. WFH style: I own more elasticised pants at any time since toddlerhood and more flat comfy shoes than my grandmother ever did.

8. These pants and shoes are needed as my “office” is now only steps away from the fridge and biscuit tin, and my willpower is as elastic as my clothing.

9. The bathroom scale is no longer my friend. Actually, it never really was, but now it shouts at me if I get too close.

10. Toothpaste is optional because no one can get close enough to my face to smell my breath.

11. Make-up is optional as most laptop cameras are pretty forgiving if you know how to use the light. Tip: place light source behind your head, not your screen, if you don’t want people to spot the wrinkles or dull skin.

12. The pandemic is a perfect excuse for not doing stuff I really didn’t want to do anyway. “Oh, I’d love to, but Covid …” is my new get-out-of-jail-free card.

No excuses

13. However, I’m a freelancer and no one will want to hire me if I blame the pandemic for missing a deadline or presenting sub-standard work. If I want to earn money, tough for pretty much all of us in 2021, I can’t play the blame game or join the pity party.

14. It’s not Covid’s fault that I’m not running, cycling or swimming as much as I was before March 2020. Of course I’d like to blame it and I’ll certainly never run a marathon in my back garden but “shame, poor me” won’t give me my fitness back.

15. Deadlines are more flexible for some clients, less so for others, and I need to figure out fast which is which. Prioritise to ensure long-term financial stability!

16. Talking about money, an investment of R500 annual Safrea subs is worth it – I’ve earned far more than that via Safrea in the two years I’ve been a member.

Health matters

17. It’s liberating to have had Covid-19 and survived, and I am relieved to have been through it. It was absolutely horrible but I’m hopeful I won’t go through it again (thank you, modern medicine).

18. It’s even more liberating to have had two shots of the Pfizer vaccination. In fact, it’s like wearing an invisibility cloak while Covid-19 and Mrs Filch prowl the corridors of Hogwarts.

19. Some masks are more comfortable than others but no mask is more comfortable than the feeling of fresh air on skin.

Don’t feed the trolls

20. I can live without the toxicity of Twitter or the frenzy of Facebook but I love – and need – the optimism of Instagram.

21. It doesn’t help to argue for or against vaccination, on social media or anywhere. Puts me in mind of the George Bernard Shaw quote:

“Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

– George Bernard Shaw

500 days of Covid – and more to come

22. Last but not least, whatever stresses and strains my family is facing, there are others who are better off, and those who are worse off. That will always be the way of the world.

23. Neither Covid-19, nor the world, are likely to end soon. No one has come up with that magical silver bullet yet and we’ll need to make the best of it for some time to come. I reckon we’re facing another 500 days of Covid

24. So let’s play nicely, and try to be kind, to all kinds.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


6 Responses

  1. What a lovely, giggly wake-up on this women’s day, Gillian, thank you. Deadlines, indeed, the deadlines.

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