All over the country, people in service jobs are still being of service during the Coronavirus crisis. It’s not just the healthcare workers and first responders who have continued to work during the COVID-19 lockdown, it’s millions of people we used to take for granted – like grocery store staff and sanitation workers and people with service jobs we’ve never even heard of.
My Hubby has one of those jobs you’ve never heard of but turns out to be vital during a pandemic.
See, if you are sheltering at home in an apartment building that has little to no cell phone service, it’s no longer just a nuisance – it could be dangerous or even life threatening when you need help and can’t make a call.
And that’s where my Hubby and his team come in. Their company installs in-building, agnostic cellular repeater systems and distributed antenna systems in commercial structures. Never heard of that, right? Basically, he installs systems that capture all the cell signals that are floating around outside a building and brings them inside the building for everyone to use. Everyone gets coverage – regardless of whether you’re with Verizon, AT&T, etc. — which is why they’re called agnostic: no particular affiliation. The distributed antenna systems (DAS), provide the same service but are reserved for use by first responders only – so that fire fighters and police officers have guaranteed communications during an emergency.
Before the pandemic and the quarantine, Hubby and team traveled all over the country installing these systems in 72-story high rise apartments, office complexes, schools, hotels and entire hospital campuses. They would often travel three or more weeks out of the month, only coming home on weekends.
Then Coronapocalypse happened. Their company is exempt from the stay at home order because telecommunications services are considered essential. Hubby and his partner decided to keep the gang at home anyway; it felt like the right thing to do for their installers.
But for almost a month now, they’ve been bombarded with calls from apartment building managers who said that their residents were stranded at home with no means of communication. Please help, please help…
So, this week, they cautiously returned to work. First, a local Denver job. Then one of our intrepid three-man crews (masks on, hand sanitizer worn on a lanyard around their necks) flew to Washington, DC on a plane with four other people. Seven total passengers, each sitting as far from the others as possible.
Hubby said everyone he saw at the Denver airport, every passenger, every worker, wore a mask and kept their distance. On the jobsite, a fully occupied apartment building, a few people stuck their masked faces out of their front door to ask who the hell he was and what the hell was he doing but once they heard it involved their cell phone coverage, they politely thanked him for his service and closed the door. The hotel he and the gents stayed in was empty, they had the whole place to themselves and only came into contact with the pizza delivery folks. In Baltimore, for the flight home, it was the same story as DIA except the airport was even more deserted. The photo above is the Baltimore airport at 4:00 pm on a Friday – normally a hectic time, teeming with people trying to get home for the weekend.
Originally, I was pretty distressed at the thought of Hubby going back out on the road in the midst of this global catastrophe but seeing the vacant airports and hearing the stories of zero contact everywhere he went, I’m feeling a little better about it.
I know the service Hubby and his team provide is crucial. The ability to make a phone call can save lives and — let’s be honest –- save sanity in these complicated, grueling, anxious times. I am thankful that he can deliver that.
And I am particularly thankful to everyone who has left him the fuck alone to do it.