ANNA MARIE DOVE wears a lot of hats. She’s the shop manager at Kustom Hustle Tattoo, she’s a charge nurse in the emergency department at Memorial, and she’s the mother of three girls, two of whom are now home from middle school with her.
A nurse since the early 90s, when HIV was prevalent, Anna doesn’t let COVID-19 scare her from doing her job.
This is her Quarantine Chronicle.
How is your family doing?We’re okay. We have three girls; one is 25 and lives in New York. She normally lives in Brooklyn, but she’s quarantined herself on Staten Island with some friends. She’s a bartender and in school, so she’s out of a job and not in school right now. She gets a little stir-crazy, I think, every once in a while because she’s not at her home. We give her a little encouragement every once in a while—that’s about the best we can do as parents right now for her.
The other two girls are in middle school and they’re tired of not seeing their friends. I never, ever thought I would hear a middle schooler say that they wished school was back. That seems like the craziest thing to ever hear. But they were really upset when they canceled school. They obviously understand why, but they’re getting a little bored.
Yesterday we went for a drive, staying in our car, and that was super fun. Other than that, we’re really trying to adhere to not going anywhere except the grocery store and I go to work.
How's Kustom Hustle doing?Until the shelter-in-place order went through, most of our artists didn’t want to do their appointments, so they rescheduled. The good thing is nobody has canceled yet. They’re all like, “Yeah, it’s cool, just call me when you’re open.” Some people went ahead and rescheduled already, so we’ve got some light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know how that will change; I don’t know what these people’s financial situation is. I hope that it is still within their budget when this is all done. There’s a lot of people still working and still getting paid, but I don’t know if that’ll change. As of right now, we have hope.
Why is it so important to reschedule an appointment instead of canceling?We’re making pretty much zero dollars right now and there are still bills that need to be paid. We’re not using as much electric, but there’s still going to be an electric bill this month, there’s still going to be a water bill. You can’t just turn it off. We’re still paying for advertising because we have to keep ourselves in people’s minds for when this is over.
At the shop, our attitude for keeping in touch with our people is just checking in on them. Our artists are going to need money. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the stimulus package; I have no idea if we’re actually going to get it. And if we don’t get it, they are not making money because they all work on commission and there’s nothing happening. They’ll have to get back at it to pay the bills that are still coming to their houses right now.
And I think they just want a little normalcy to their life—it’s their job, it’s the monetary aspect, and also just the aspect of getting back to what you love doing. I don’t know a single tattoo artist that hates being a tattoo artist.
We just got an email from somebody the other day who reached out. He’s been kind of depressed and wants a tattoo for all these different reasons, so I’m going to email him back and talk to him a little bit. That’s the kind of shop we are—we care about our customers as human beings.
Let’s talk about what it’s like being an ER nurse right now.I work at Memorial, and we’re the biggest ER around. Right now, it’s really slow, I think because people are actually behaving and staying in. Doctor’s offices, I think, are being really awesome about seeing people via telemedicine, so they don’t have to come into the emergency room for minor things. That is keeping our numbers down.
I don’t know if people are actually adhering to what they’re supposed to be doing, because there are lots of different reasons why people come to a hospital for help. We’re definitely taking this time to absolutely prepare for what potentially can happen, like when it gets really bad.
How do you feel going to work every day?I’m not nervous, but I’m not a nervous person. I’ve been a nurse for almost 25 years, and I remember when I told my mother in the early 90s that I wanted to go to nursing school. She’s a retired teacher, and her sister is a nurse. She completely freaked out. She said, “You’re going to catch something.” At that time, it was definitely HIV—that was when HIV was not a manageable thing. There was a lot of research and whatnot, but it was not like it was today.
I thought, “No, I’m not; I don’t even know what you’re talking about. That just seems goofball. Nurses don’t get stuff.” I don’t know what they do to keep themselves from getting it because I’m not there yet, I’m just in high school, but that seems silly. I’m not a person that’s nervous about stuff like that.
Now, what I am afraid of is bringing it home, because I don’t want to give it to somebody else. We actually were on vacation over spring break, so around St. Patrick’s Day. I wasn’t at work when that stuff started happening here, when they were planning on shutting schools and all that.
After I went to work for one day, I started sleeping in our guest bedroom instead of with my husband. There are days after I’ve gone to work, because I’ve been really involved with the care of someone that we think probably has it, and if I work very closely with someone like that, when I come home I wear a mask for several days around the house. It’s just a cloth mask, the one that you use to keep somebody else safe.
I personally have not gone into a grocery store except for one time since March 20. I let my husband go and do all that grocery shopping; he’s totally willing to do it and understands why I’m doing it.
It sounds like Memorial is doing a great job of getting you all prepared.I’ve worked there 18 years, and that particular team has a really great team. I can say there’s nobody in the emergency department that is afraid. We’re learning as we go, but we’re all listening and paying attention and we’re all doing what we need to do. If and when this does get really bad, we will definitely be ready. Our team will definitely be ready. And I know inside the hospital as well, there’s all kinds of preparations going on there. I’m not involved in those, really, but we’ll do what we need to do, our hospital will.
What do you think others should know and be aware of?Keep doing what you’re doing. There’s not a lot of people on the roads. I work at a trauma center, so even that part of it is down because people aren’t traveling, they’re not going places they’l get hurt.
It will come to an end eventually. I personally think that everybody’s going to be a little different on the other side of this—some not good, some good. Hopefully, the good can help the people who aren’t doing so good get to better places.
We were all busy doing so much. I ran a tattoo shop and had a full-time job at the hospital and coached a softball team for my daughter. The other kid is in dance class two or three days a week—it’s so much.