An actual conversation I had with an acquaintance/colleague (AC) shortly after I tested positive for COVID
Me: So, AC, what are you doing for Thanksgiving? Anything on Zoom?
Acquaintance/colleague (AC): I’m tired of Zoom! COVID’s not going to keep me from seeing my son and his girlfriend.
Me: Everyone has to make their own choice. Can you eat and socialize with them outdoors?
AC: I don’t think so.
Me: Well, do you know the COVID safety guidelines? You might want to review them…
AC: Well, I wear a mask. That’s it, right?
Me: I suggest you look at the CDC website – masks, six-foot distance, limit close contact (especially longer than 15 minutes), ventilation, be aware of what you touch, sanitize, etc.
AC: If I get COVID, I get it.
Me: You know, AC, I’ve enjoyed working with you, getting to know you. I’ve grown kind of fond of you! I’d really like to see you again and healthy.
My internal monologue: Holy shit!
Reflections: Speaks for itself.
* * *
An actual text conversation I had with my apartment on-site manager (AOM) after I stupidly posted my news on Facebook to “educate” any COVID deniers the day I learned I was positive for COVID, Wednesday, November 18, 2020:
AOM: How did you find out you have COVID-19?
Me: You saw this on FB? We were informed this morning.
AOM: Saw the post on fb so just curious as to why I wasn’t told first when I have maintenance going in there unaware. Please know he has 4 small children and a pregnant wife at home. Ok will you be quarantining?
Me: (AOM), I did not know until this morning. As you can imagine, it’s stressful. I mean no harm to you.
AOM: Sorry. Message was sent before you sent yours. I understand. Just concerned for my staff, self and tenants. Will you be quarantined for next 2 weeks?
Me: It was harsh. Also, D (handyman) had to be FORCED to wear a mask. Maybe HE IS A DANGER TO HIS OWN FAMILY. We will be isolating for 10 days under advice from RRH (hospital).
AOM: I didn’t mean it to be harsh. Just a heads up would have been nice. Not finding out on fb. Also, if you suspected you might have it, a heads up would have been nice as well. I understand the toilet was important. This takes priority. And, yes, D had to be forced to wear a mask but has complied every time he has been asked since. Just trying to be as safe as possible. Hope you understand.
Me: I understand that you are accusing me of keeping something from you. Not so and not fair.
AOM: No, not at all. Just a heads up would have been awesome. I just wish if you suspected, like I said, that you had it, you could have held off a day for the work order so then it doesn’t affect multiple people or put people at risk. That’s what it really comes down to; I wasn’t aware. I’m not accusing at all. We are just having a conversation. Let’s not make it more than what it is. I hope the best for you and Ed. If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.
Me: I did not know until this morning. We are dealing with a lot. My husband is greatly at risk.
AOM: I understand, and I’m sorry. I imagine it’s very scary. Two of my children and myself have asthma really bad so trying to stay as safe as possible. Please let me know what I can do to help.
Two days later –
Me: Hi, (AOM). I’ve thought about our interaction and had a chance to cool off. I realize how scary it must be to know someone right where you live who has the virus, and I know how much you care about your family, this place, and the people who work and live here. If you’d like, it would help us if you could get out mail for us and leave it near our door.
AOM: I will definitely get it and let you know when I do. Thank you for understanding, and in no way did I mean it badly. I imagine it’s very scary for you both. I’m praying for a speedy recovery.
Me: Thanks. I can really get my knickers in a twist!
AOM: You and me both. (heart emoji)
* * *
First, AOM is right. I was as selfish as a COVID denier. Second, I’m really good at cutting peoples’ heads off before listening to what they are saying. Third, I can really nurse a grudge. Fourth, how important really is it to be “right”? Fifth, I actually patched up an argument! Big deal for me. AOM accepted my olive branch. How different my life could have been, if I could have done all my conversations on text and pre or re read them! Kindness is vital, and being “right” seems trivial right now.
* * *
Laundry, Sunday, November 22, 2020
So, the laundry is piling up, and I realize that, for the sake of my conscience, I have to work something better out than running into the laundry room and trying to do my wash in stealth, all the while looking over my shoulder, feeling like a criminal. I have the Scarlet C on me – COVID. People are scared, and they have a right to be. Everything is different now and I have to scrutinize all that I’m doing each day and how I’m going to do it before I do it. Wearing a mask is a good first step, but it’s not all that’s required of us if we are serious about being our brother’s keeper. And some people won’t even try to get to that first step. Wearing a mask and following other COVID-safe protocols is a hassle, but there’s a little thing going on called a — queue me screaming into the wild void — PANDEMIC.
I decide to be considerate and act as if I live in a community, and I’m in the process of working something out with the onsite manager so that I can wash my clothes and protect others from this virus. I’m not asking anyone to give me a standing ovation, but the laundry made me understand that nothing now can be done on auto pilot. I think we all need to be the second “greatest generation” and sacrifice as Americans did during WWII.
* * *
My congressman in the 23rd district is Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. He’s an idiot, but he’s the idiot representing me in Congress. After receiving my positive COVID test result, I called his office in Bakersfield and left a message with an aide: I, his constituent, had COVID, and I wanted him to convince the president, who once called McCarthy “his Kevin”, that he (the president) should give the incoming administration all the access and resources they need to hit the ground running on turning the COVID ship around. “My life, the life of my husband, and the lives of many, many other people depend on this happening right away,” I said. I plan to call again, especially if symptoms worsen. I want Kevin McCarthy to know this shit is real.
* * *
What Are You Doing on the Floor?
I heard a sliding sound, a fall in slow motion. It was coming from the bathroom. E, love my life, had fallen when the world went spinning. Then he did something I’d never seen him do before. His eyes went back, staring at the ceiling without seeing, and he became unresponsive. The 911 operator had to calm me down so she could understand and help me. While the paramedics were on their way, I got E dressed. He remained on the floor, lying on his side. The world would not stay still for him. Then he was on his way to the hospital by ambulance, but I couldn’t go with him due to COVID restrictions. It was like a nightmare, a waking one. They checked him out, saying he had vertigo, and he was released only a few hours later. In the interval, I looked at myself in the mirror and determined that, for E’s sake, I would not fall apart. I showered, dressed, washed my face, and brushed my teeth as if everything were normal.
* * *
Husband or Roommate?
November 23, 2020 – Right now, my husband and I are living as roommates. Why? I am Patient X in this household, having tested positive for COVID on November 18th. He tested positive on November 22nd. He’s the one with a neurological condition and, in normal times, experiences even colds much more severely than I do. Since he likely got the virus from me, it is he who must quarantine (14 days). I end my isolation at 10 days. Quarantine and isolation are not the same. I learned that from a contact tracing taught by an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and offered online. The bottom line is that my husband and I must wear masks when near each other, try to socially distance in a 2-bedroom apartment, attempt to prepare and use food separately, and work to keep all surfaces hygienic, never a strong point for us. I sleep head to toe, and he sleeps toe to head in the same bed. It’s unreal. Oy, oy vey, oy veyes mir, and oy gevalt!
Submitted by Sarah Wersan, Kern County – Ridgecrest.