A typical week for Amy Pache includes a trip to the golf course, a run to the airport, and maybe an event or a visit to Ohio Stadium. She gets invited backstage to a concert from time to time, and politicians talk to her regularly.
But mostly, she stays in the car.
She waits on the wealthy and connected people who are going to these places because she was hired to drive them in whatever transportation they’ve hired from the livery service for which she works.
But her life is no longer typical, and she lies awake at night in her Dublin apartment, wondering how she’ll pay the utility bills and how much gas she can afford to put in her own car.
“It went from very fast-paced and completely booked to nothing, just immediately and completely,” Pache said.
She’s now gone through “every bit” of her savings and has had to make hard calls about electricity payment plans and needs over desires.
“You count every single penny,” Pache said of her life now. “How much do I need this? Can I go without it?”
She fears her workload won’t ever be the same, with some businesses seeing the long-term benefits of work-from-home. She has a steady list of clients who ask for her by name, some attorneys, doctors and even a few Ohio State alumni. But the work, for which she is paid per ride, is still just trickling in.
Losing the ability to do what she loves represents a loss of what kept her going, she said.
“I get to see a lot of the country, it’s kind of like therapy, I have a lot of time to think,” Pache said. “I get to meet different people, people that give me hope.”
Still, she finds herself lucky. Her boyfriend drives a bus for Central Ohio Transit Authority, which had it’s own struggles when the pandemic began. His hours are normalizing, she said, but their steady income as a household is uncertain.
She also said she remains hopeful about the future of the state and the country. She plans to vote for President Donald Trump because she thinks he’s supported the country in ways she cares about: building up the military and talking about ending drug epidemics.
“If I’m on a train and we’re going where I want to go, and things are going in the right direction, why would I get off?” she said.
Pache voted for Barack Obama previously because she values those who haven’t been in politics for a lifetime, and she feels disappointed by state and federal politicians who “focus on the wrong things.”
“I want so badly to go to (U.S. House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and (Ohio Gov. Mike) DeWine and ask what the price of milk is,” Pache said. “I want to know what they think my serious problems are?”
But as she waits to see when her next paycheck will come, and hopes to hear from her steady client list to come back, more than anything she wants to feel less exhausted by the flow of “information and disinformation.”
“I often wonder why I’m so tired, and I think it’s because we’re in a constant state of what’s next,” Pache said.
Susan Tebben was among seven journalists who participated with Ohioans in October in Your Voice Ohio online dialogues to gain understanding of concerns people have in the 2020 election. She is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is one in a series of stories on issues Ohioans say are most important in this election year. More than 50 news outlets are collaborating in the project under the umbrella of Your Voice Ohio, the nation’s largest sustained, statewide news media collaborative. In five years, Your Voice Ohio has brought more than 100 journalists together with more than 1,300 Ohioans for discussions on addiction, the economy and elections. Your Voice Ohio is managed and coordinated by the Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civic engagement organization. The project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and Facebook. The Jefferson Center for New Democratic Processes designs and facilitates the dialogues and digital forums. Retired Akron Beacon Journal managing editor Doug Oplinger directs the media work and can be reached at email@example.com.