A Set Builder Hopes For An NYC Comeback, But When? : Coronavirus Live Updates Maxwell Kirsner built sets for big events. Then he, his fiancée and their coworkers were laid off. Kirsner says he's optimistic the city will make it back, but he's worried how long that will take.
NPR logo Set Builder: 'It's New York City ... Eventually, Events Have to Come Back'

Set Builder: 'It's New York City ... Eventually, Events Have to Come Back'

Before they were laid off, Maxwell Kirsner and Natalie Borowicz, his fiancée, both worked for a company that staged big events in New York City. Courtesy of Maxwell Kirsner hide caption

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Courtesy of Maxwell Kirsner

Before they were laid off, Maxwell Kirsner and Natalie Borowicz, his fiancée, both worked for a company that staged big events in New York City.

Courtesy of Maxwell Kirsner

Maxwell Kirsner used to build sets for a company that staged big events in New York City. Those events dried up suddenly in mid-March.

"I was laid off on Friday the 13th," he recalls.

The timing actually turned out to be fortunate, as Kirsner was able to apply for and start receiving jobless benefits before the huge wave of layoffs that soon followed, overwhelming unemployment offices.

His fiancée, Natalie Borowicz, and others who worked for the same company got pink slips a few weeks later. When we spoke, some were still waiting for their benefits to begin.

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"They're struggling to pay rent and buy food and all that," Kirsner said. "We're all in the same boat, but we're all on different seats on that boat."

He's grateful that his bosses and coworkers continue to check in on one another regularly, and he hopes to return to work someday.

"The light at the end of the tunnel is that it's New York City, and eventually, events have to come back," he said. "So, part of me has faith, but part of me is worried that how long will that be?"

Read more stories in Faces Of The Coronavirus Recession.