By Samantha Minneha
Social distancing guidelines and non-essential businesses being closed have left many people around the country stuck at home bored and lonely. These guidelines are set in place to keep them safe and should be followed. This doesn’t mean some people haven’t taken these unfortunate circumstances into their own hands. People around the country are coming up with creative ways to hang out and visit with each other while still respecting social distancing guidelines.
It has now been over a month since UT students received a message from the school’s president Ronald Vaughn announcing that classes would be online for the remainder of the semester, and that students would be encouraged to leave campus unless they had no other options. Since then, the majority of students have left campus and gone home to places all over the United States, some even traveling back home to countries abroad.
When online classes were first announced, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I knew that I would miss my friends and my school so much, but another voice inside me was a little excited to have class in bed, in my pajamas. That excitement has declined exponentially once it set in that just because my days would be freer and lazier didn’t mean that I would get to hang out with my friends from my hometown.
I have gotten to the point, like many others, where I have done all of my work that needed to be done and I have binged Netflix to the point of finishing multiple seasons of a show in a day. I was craving human interaction that wasn’t my parents or sister. I love my family, but being in the house together 24/7 undoubtedly results in getting on each other’s nerves.
That’s when I saw on multiple social media platforms that people were having garage/parking lot parties.
These garage parties consist of people sitting around in a circle, often in lawn chairs, but remaining six feet apart in an open garage. Although you could go inside and stay six feet apart from one another, going into someone’s house leaves the chance to spread germs by touching things in the home that are touched on a daily basis and not necessarily cleaned regularly. Staying outside to visit is the safer option. You can still sit within speaking distance of one another and listen to music and catch up without the fear of coming in contact with a person, or an object that could possibly transfer the virus.
Parking lot parties are similar to garage parties but they take place completely outside of any home. Groups of people and friends gather in parking lots and remain in their cars parked at least six feet apart from each other. Many people sit in their trunks or tailgates to make it easier to see each other and talk. Depending on where you live, visiting from a heated car may be the warmer option compared to the garage parties.
My family has truly taken advantage of these social distancing loopholes. We have had garage parties to celebrate birthdays and Easter, which would have passed gloomily if not spent with those we love. Sitting in opposite corners of the garage in a winter coat, eating off a paper plate seemed like a better option than not seeing my cousins and grandparents at all.
These clever get-togethers are a testament to the idea that bad times bring out the good in people. We are getting creative and getting through it together.
Samantha Minnehan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org