by Marc Berman
Home confinement is no trip to the shore. Still, I must do my share to fight the new Coronavirus that is infecting hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.
So here I lay, plopped on the bed in our upstairs guest room, clutching my iPhone. The door is double-bolted shut. Around me, ceiling-high towers of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, face masks, bottled water, MREs, packaged milk and beef jerky form a virtual urban skyline that extends into the attached bathroom.
I obtained the supplies by bribing the inventory manager at a local warehouse store.
The government has asked people exposed to others carrying the virus to self-quarantine. The WHO warns that the elderly and those with “underlying conditions” are especially at risk of dying from the new disease and should avoid crowds.
Now, as far as I know, I haven’t been exposed to any infected person. And I’m not a senior citizen, never mind my preference for plaid pants pulled up to my navel.
However, I do suffer from chronic hemorrhoids. If that’s not an underlying condition, I don’t know what would be.
Therefore, I took no chances and isolated myself. My new motto is, “one’s company, two’s a crowd.”
Even though I have voluntarily self-quarantined, I am not cut off from all human contact. After I don a face mask and irradiate my phone with hospital-grade ultraviolet light, I regularly video chat with my wife and kids on WhatsApp. They seem to be leading interesting lives.
My phone battery does die occasionally. If an emergency arises while my iPhone recharges, I can pound on the door in Morse code (after washing my hands and disinfecting the door surface with alcohol-based sanitizer, of course) and my wife will know what to do.
Speaking of my bride, she now suggests that I require “professional help.” I try to explain that I have the situation under control and that we shouldn’t be wasting money on a cleaning service, what with the need to pay for the kids’ college and all.
But my wife seems unconvinced. She keeps screaming that, because of people like me, those truly at risk may not be able to obtain essential supplies. My honey also points out that up to 61,000 people die each year in the United States from the flu, and 35,000 in motor vehicle accidents, exponentially more than COVID-19 has killed here so far. Yet, I never self-quarantined before or gave up driving.
Don’t you hate it when your spouse throws statistics at you?
I had better luck with my boss. He’s a real germophobe. So, in exchange for a pallet of Purell, six facemasks and a dozen rolls of toilet paper tossed down from my window, Bob gave me the next two months off. With full pay and benefits, too.
Hopefully, the virus will soon be contained. But, if not, I have more than enough supplies to bribe my employer until next winter. By then, scientists should achieve a vaccine.
My real problem will come if vaccination starts, say, in just a couple of months. In that case, I’d have to pray that the warehouse store will waive its 30-day return policy.
Otherwise, my wife may really go nuts.
Marc Berman writes on politics, law, and culture. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.