Susan Palchak

Jersey City, NJ

7:00 Applause

As the tidal wave of Covid-19 enveloped this nation, as the numbers were rising, the uncertainty and terror became- at times, all consuming- people all across the 5 boroughs of New York City, and across the water in Jersey City and Hoboken- stepped out onto roofs, porches, stoops, and fire escapes- and applauded the heroism of the healthcare providers, the first responders, and all essential employees who continued to face the streets, to face their jobs- bravely stepping into the unknown.

The 7:00 applause grew more and more each day. Every night now, neighbors step outside and take a moment to emphatically wave to each other. New noise makers got involved- kids and dogs joined in. We live on a bus route, and the bus will regularly wave and honk. Delivery people, UPS, USPS- all met with shouts, and whistling. There is a hospital at the end of our block, there is always a swell of cheering whenever anyone in scrubs walks by.

This photo is of my husband- he’s an essential employee. He runs a homeless shelter in Brooklyn. He had Covid-19. This was the first night- weeks into his illness, that he felt well enough to join me on the stoop for the 7:00 Applause.

In a time of tragedy, death, illness, and uncertainty- for 5 minutes every night- I felt true joy again. That joy was in the gratitude of others.

I truly hope this is something that people continue long after Covid-19.

7:00 Applause, 2020, iPhone photo

Gallery University Art Gallery