While many people continue staying home because of COVID-19, many others are risking their health—potentially, even their lives—to keep the country running.

From bus drivers to mail carriers to healthcare professionals, this episode of the StoryCorps podcast is dedicated to essential workers who are navigating the pandemic, and finding support from the only other people who truly understand what they’re going through—their colleagues.

Frank de Jesus and Tyrone Hampton are New York City bus drivers. Over the last few months, their jobs have become particularly stressful, as they continue shuttling passengers—many of whom are also essential workers—in one of the hardest hit areas in the country. At StoryCorps, they sat down to talk about it.

Another job that’s become increasingly dangerous these days—delivering the mail. At StoryCorps, Evette Jourdain and Craig Boddie, postal workers in Palm Beach, Florida, reflect on the anxiety of the moment, and what’s been helping them through.

Our final story comes from two childhood friends, Josh Belser and Sam Dow, who both grew up to pursue careers in medicine. Josh is a nurse in Syracuse, New York; Sam is a healthcare technician in Ann Arbor, Michigan. At StoryCorps, the two remember how they had each other’s backs as kids, and how they’ve continued to have each other’s backs throughout this turbulent time.

Top photo: Sam Dow at his job in Ann Arbor, Michigan and his friend Josh Belser at work in Syracuse, NY in 2020. Courtesy of Josh Belser
Second photo: New York City MTA bus operators Tyrone Hampton and Frank de Jesus in their respective homes. Photos courtesy of Hampton and de Jesus.
Third photo: Craig Boddie and Evette Jourdain in Palm Beach, FL. Courtesy of Craig Boddie and Evette Jourdain for StoryCorps.

Released on May 26, 2020.

Like the music in this episode? Support the artists:
“Moments of Departure” by Jarrett Floyd; a StoryCorps Commission
“Elegiac” by Bryan Copeland; a StoryCorps Commission
“Sage the Hunter” by Blue Dot Sessions from the album Landsman Duets