Last Friday, I went with my husband to drop off his laptop. It was his last day of employment at the company where he has been working since October 2016. When we entered the parking garage, yellow caution tape stretched across the aisles, and we read the sign stating “Welcome” with an arrow pointing to the right. Following the pulled-taut caution tape, we turned left at the next “Welcome” sign. Near the end of the aisle stood a chipboard, plywood guard shack. I immediately felt claustrophobic dread for the person subjected to sitting in this make-shift structure in a practically-empty garage, waiting for the occasional employee to enter this desolate place. Yet, the young woman greeted us with a pleasant voice, and I suspect she was smiling behind her mask. She explained she had to interview us separately and take our temperatures per HIPAA protocols. I got out of the truck and put on my mask while she asked my husband the questions. Then I stepped up, answered her questions, let her take my temperature, and got back in the truck. I stayed in the truck while my husband went into the building and dropped off his computer. When he climbed into the truck, the scent of hand sanitizer wafted through the cabin.
We chatted about his new job to begin on Monday. He told me about the office spaces being considered for the new company and said he will be working on-site once the stay-at-home order is lifted. I asked if he could still work from home on Fridays as has been our norm for several years. He thought that could be possible, that he would ask.
We went to a store to get a few things we had run out of during the week. The courtesy employee had already sanitized our cart. About fifty percent of the customers wore masks, but there were few people in the store at the time. We kept up a steady pace and chose the self check-out. After loading the truck, we took deep breaths of relief when we moved our stifling masks. Then we did one of our favorite things and went through the coffee shop drive-thru.
Many doors are closed these days. Sometimes we have to stand in a line surrounded by caution tape at a safe distance from the person in front of and behind us. We enter parking garages with taped-off aisles and welcome signs that make us feel anything but. Maybe we aren’t even going into the building. But, in order to enter this space, we must follow the protocol, answer the questions, and have our temperatures checked. Hand-sanitizer is doubling as air-freshener in our vehicle cabs filled with the scent of our fear.
That’s one view of it.
The other is the way I decided to see it. I enjoyed a leisurely drive with my husband who is excited for his next vocational adventure. We met a nice young woman who seemed content to do her guard shack job. We didn’t have to wait in any lines at the store. We got everything we needed. We sipped our favorite flavored coffees on the way home.
Oh. And the sun was shining.