I have heard some crazy stories from people who have survived far more intense scenarios, and yet, I am compelled, if only out of noir pandemic comedy, to share the story of this day.
My office has a requirement that folks be on site one day a week. That’s pretty darn good, compared to folks who are on the front lines in the medical, restaurant, retail and many other industries. But, it is still what I consider an “abstract” requirement, which is a topic for a different post (TDLR, nobody should be physically at their place of employment unless it is the only way they can progress on their core value proposition as an employee). Anyway, I hopped in my car to commute in for that required day.
Due to some COVID-inspired administrative corner-shaving, I needed to bring some physical documents to my employer for verification. The electronic copies were fine back when COVID was a pandemic, but now that COVID was old news (even though the infection rates were and are still monstrously worse than when we shutdown our entire global economy), now, for some reason, it had become a moral imperative that these documents be seen in person. No problem.
The Cosmically Important Traffic Jam
Normally, I can do the drive in about 45 minutes, but apparently, on this day, there were some cosmic forces at work, and I got stuck in a 2+ hour commute. Now, thanks to technology, I was able to dial into my meetings and talk to folks and make some productive use of my time in the freeway parking lot. However, what happened next was a bit bizarre.
One of the phone calls I made on this two-hour commute was, “Hey, I am stuck in really bad traffic, and I will call you when I am in the office.” I eventually made it to my office and pulled into the parking garage. The ticket machine was broken, but I habitually pressed the “give me a ticket” button twice before noticing the gate arm was up. I parked the car and looked at my phone – there was a missed call from my wife.
The Benign News
She had called to let me know we had been exposed to COVID. We went through some logistics cycles and figured out next steps. I called my employer, “I have some goods and some crazy news. Good news is I am here, bad news is, I’ve been exposed to COVID.” We agreed I should not bother coming into the office, and instead I drove the car to a meeting location where he came out and visually inspected the documents through my passenger window. We gave each other a thumbs up and I drove back home, by way of CVS to pickup some COVID tests.
The household has done one round of testing that has come back negative, and we hope to repeat those negative results with a second test tomorrow. But let’s play the what-if scenario game just a little.
The What-If COVID Scenario
What if I tested positive for COVID, what if I didn’t get stuck in traffic? I would have walked into my office, infected. Why would I have walked into my office infected? Because of an abstract requirement to be there one day a week. I am not mad at the requirement -as I have said, I am thankful it is not more stringent. However, it is introducing undue risk.
Keep in mind, the efficacy of the vaccine has gone down and not everyone is staying vigilant. They think, “Oh, I have the vaccine, so no big deal.” So, they don’t wear masks and risk spreading infection which broke through their vaccination. In fact, I am going to write more on this topic because when Delta breaks through it becomes infectious at the same transmission rate as an unvaccinated person. True, at least folks with the vaccine have a chance of being protected or having reduced symptoms, but we gotta keep those masks up and stay vigilant, vaccinated or not.
The Silver Humorous Lining
Now, that’s probably a great place to end this post. End it on a call to action, right? Even with something as serious as a pandemic, I feel like we all need a safe emotional outlet. Ways to productively vent anxiety and stress without becoming overwhelmed. For me, humor is that outlet. Not always an appropriate outlet, but I will close this post with a humorous thought, hoping that the call to action still remains vibrant afterwards.
Later that day, after we took our tests and the intensity level dropped a notch, I looked at my wife and asked, “Can I tell you my most significant accomplishment today?”
“Sure,” she replied.
“I drove three hours to show a coworker a physical piece of paper through my passenger window and he could give me a thumbs up. What a weird day!”
We had a much-needed laugh.