Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Life Of A Squash Coach During Covid-19

It's pretty wild how quickly things have evolved in the past week. A week ago US Squash sent out a notice that they cancelled their 2020 National Championships which originally I thought was a little over the top. The day after they recalled all of their pro players from around the globe. A day later the PSA and Squash Canada both came out and also cancelled their upcoming events. Sh*t got serious quick! Things in Turks and Caicos have been a living a little behind the rest of the world. Let me run you through the past week of life as a squash pro on a small Caribbean island.

I've been running an Airbnb to supplement my income here. It's a 3 bedroom house which has been nearly fully occupied for the past 3 months. About a week ago I started getting emails from upcoming guests worrying about their trip here. My listing was with Airbnb and I had a strict no cancellation policy so people were quite concerned about losing not only their vacation, but also their money. I wasn't sure what to do because on 1 hand I need these bookings to make a living here, but I also understand the seriousness of this situation and I don't think the guests should have to pay for a trip they cannot take.

Eventually the situation was taken out of my hands when Airbnb made changes to their cancellation policy. Their new extenuating circumstances policy gave upcoming guests a full refund regardless of the hosts cancellation policies. I was hoping they would offer upcoming guests who cancel a credit for future travel or to provide some form of split. I'm aware that VRBO has not done this and guests are furious with them, while with Airbnb it's the hosts that are fuming. It's one of those situations without a solution that would please both parties.

To add onto this whole debacle was that the house I have been renting was sold, contracts signed and due to change hands on April 1st. So I was only going to lose 2-3 weeks of revenue and then things were changing anyways. It isn't my house, I'm simply renting it out long term from a friend from the squash club to re-rent it out short term. So I was happy for him that his house was sold, but also unsure how I was going to make a living here without the additional income I've been generating from this rental property. But once again Covid-19 ruined the plan. The sale of the house fell through because of the potential buyers being hit by the financial burden of this virus. Once I got the news I put the listing back on the market...crickets.

Originally I had not accepted any of of booking requests for April because of the sale of the house. Once I found out that it fell through I contacted all of these people again, but because of this global pandemic nobody was interested. Turks and Caicos runs on tourism and at this moment the country has very few of them. The longer this goes on the more troubling it will be.

(today's update from the Canadian Prime Minister) 

Okay, so that's the non-squash portion of my life. Now let's move onto the squash portion. As of today the gym I work at is still open. There are currently no confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country so many people I believe feel isolated from the rest of the world. That being said when someone gets a test for Covid-19 here it has to be sent off island and it takes a week to get the results. So by the time there is a positive test it will be widely spread here. Even still the grocery stores have never been busier, even without the herds of tourists that are normally here over spring break.

For the past week I had been quite cautious and I had never washed my hands more in my life. The club was posting signs and taking extra precautions, yet somehow on Tuesday I woke up with a mild feeling of a cold starting in my chest. I have asthma, although the fresh air here in Turks has all but cured it. I started feeling better as the day went on and if it wasn't for what's happening with the coronavirus I would have had a normal day and probably would have went to work and even squeezed in a workout. I don't believe I have Covid-19 as my symptoms were different from what I've been reading about, but it's a scary time to get a cold. Therefore I decided to pause the squash program as of yesterday.

So now I'm sitting in isolation at home, living off of cereal and protein bars. My rental unit has no future bookings and the squash programming is suspended indefinitely. Did I mention that my job here has no base salary?

I know it may sound like it, but I'm really not seeking any sympathy for my situation. Many people around the world have it way worse than I do. People are dying, losing their jobs and families are being far more impacted than I am. We are all affected by this and I just thought my story was unique and potentially interesting for the readers.

For the past week I had been contemplating booking a flight and heading back to Canada while I still can. One major issue is that I've been without a work permit since this summer when I lost it. Since this time I've been waiting on a replacement so if I leave the country I doubt I would be able to reenter. Even if I had my work permit and I was back in Canada it's not like I'd be able to work or leave the house so I wasn't too concerned about where I'd be stuck. Once I woke up with the beginning of a mild cold yesterday I knew travel for the immediate future was off the table. So here I am and will be for a significant amount of time in Providenciales. So as bad as millions of people have it right now around the globe I really cannot complain. My house is on a canal and there's a kayak and plenty of room to do some stretching and exercises. It also gives me more time to work on the online portion of Serious Squash. Although how much interest there will be while most clubs around the globe are shut remains to be seen.

I've been trying to post weekly on this blog since the new year. I thought it would be more fun to talk about something other than the coronavirus, but I thought my unique situation here would make for an interesting read. Hopefully things will start steadily improving since we more fully comprehend the severity of the situation. And with all of this upcoming time off I really wish there we could watch some live sports. Thankfully there's a replay section on Squash TV and of course Netflix. Don't forget that Serious Squash is also one Youtube and there's a piles of free short videos. Here is this weeks episode of Squash Shots:

Stay safe everyone and use caution when leaving your house. If you can try and implement social distancing and think of your friends and loved ones. Even if you're young and healthy and the coronavirus isn't potentially fatal to you, who you spread it to may not be so fortunate. And the only way we're going to get past this thing and be able to move on is if it stops spreading. If you have any cold symptom (like I did) just don't go out and take part in self-isolation.

Ideally next week I'll be back onto a squash topic, but some things (although not many) are more important than squash. I have a week to think about it so you'll have to wait and find out. Until then be smart and stay healthy!
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