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We are living through a time that will be written in the history books of every country; no human on earth is able to avoid the effect of the coronavirus. We thought it would be important to document the stories of the people in our skydiving community to learn how they are coping through this time. We hope that in the years to come, we will be able to read these stories and reflect on how we all came together to get through these challenging times.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be highlighting these stories in a series we’re calling the COVID-19 Chronicles. We hope you enjoy reading everyone’s story and we hope it brings you hope and the realization that we are all in this together.
Name: Jessica Downing
Role (if any) at Wisconsin Skydiving Center: Coach, fun jumper, and an AFF-I in training
Where Do You Currently Live?: Big Bend, Wisconsin
What kind of work do you do? How has your job been affected in light of COVID-19?
I work as a consultant at a Lexus center for vehicle repairs. With COVID-19, it has significantly impacted my work. We are still open as it is considered an essential business. But since nobody is driving their vehicles, they’re not needing maintenance or repair. Being that we are paid off of our commissions here, it’s more like donating my time versus “still working”. But, once this whole pandemic is on the down swing, I am sure it will be like opening the floodgates here. Which will hopefully make up for the current financial loss. I have been able to watch a lot of Netflix at work, and I am re-learning Spanish. And of course, watching skydiving videos, getting excited for whenever the season does get to start! Always trying to look at the bright side!
What have you been doing to occupy your time during the quarantine?
While I am at work, I am re-learning Spanish, watching Netflix, and watching old skydiving videos of my own, and of my friends. But while I am at home, I am tackling a lot of yard work, and home remodeling. I purchased my first home last November, and all of this time at home has provided the perfect opportunity to get things done, that normally I would’ve put off all summer to skydive! My dog is also enjoying all of the outdoor time and walks she has been getting!
There have been many negatives related to the coronavirus. What have been the silver linings?
I am deeply saddened to have waited ALL WINTER to go skydiving again, and now that it is finally here, it’s not. But it will make it so much better when we are finally able to get back in the sky again! It just goes to show that although with all of the technology and knowledge we have today, and how great life is, and the economy has been, that it can change, the whole world, in the blink of an eye. And this life that we view as “stable” really is very fragile, and we should appreciate every little thing a lot more than we do.
Has the coronavirus revealed things you once took for granted that you now appreciate?
Man, I feel like I am kind of accidentally answering each next question in the question before! But again, I took skydiving for granted and I never realized. As skydivers, we are fairly used to disappointment. You wake up on a Saturday, after a long week, ready to jump in your car and pedal to the metal all the way to the DZ to be with all of your friends and have fun and BOOM! It’s raining, and it will be all day. OR, you wake up, and absolutely gorgeous outside, you get ready, grab your things, and walk outside…. And if you jumped, you could get blown to Chicago it’s so windy. ( as you can imagine too much wind is very problematic for being in a harness under a nylon bed sheet lol ). SO, although the weather quite often hinders our ability to jump, that still has not prepared me mentally for this. It all feels so backwards. I also miss not being able to see my parents, and my friends. And not being able to go out to eat.
What are you most looking forward to doing (outside of skydiving of course) when you get on the other side of the quarantine?
I am most excited to go out to eat again I think. With friends! It’s such a fun little social event that I never realized how much I enjoyed it. I’ve always loved cooking, and this quarantine has certainly given me time to experiment with new things. But it’s also given me more dishes. Which I do not like, ever, on any occasion. I mean, who does?! So I am excited to go out with friends, eat dinner, and be responsible for ZERO of the cleanup.
What’s your secret superpower that few people know about?
Hmm, I am not sure if this is a realistic “superpower” or a, if you had a superpower what would it be, question. So I’ll answer as both.
My real-life superpower I would say is being very determined in tackling a lot of things at once. My focus and determination to finish a big task once I’ve started it is very strong and my multitasking skills are killer! I do better with more on my plate.
If I could pick a superpower, I would have to say selective mind reading. I say selective, because I don’t want to hear everybody in a crowd and what their thoughts are. But like, if I blinked 3 times fast, my eyes would flash bright yellow and I could read the mind of the person I am staring at. I would also like that power to apply to animals. Because that would be the coolest thing ever!
What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
I am not too much of a reader, and I have been meaning to change that about myself. I listen to a lot of educational podcasts though. A lot about just having a positive outlook. You become what you surround yourself with.
What is the most useful thing you own under $100?
Probably my wireless headphones. I, unfortunately, have a lot of expensive hobbies *cough cough* skydiving, I’m talking about you! So I have a lot of still I use way more, but not for under $100. *sigh* But I use my wireless headphones a lot. I got a pretty decent pair off of amazon for like $50, and I use them at work sometimes with only one in so I can still hear, but that way I can listen to whatever I want without bothering anybody else.
What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
I love popping pimples, peeling sunburn, and all of those grossly satisfying bodily things like picking scabs off and such. And maybe a lot less strange, but I still get some weird looks I absolutely LOVE skydiving barefoot. They call me the barefoot-bandit. There is nothing better than it!