Excerpts from my COVID-19 Isolation Journal
Fri March 13, 2020
Day one of isolation. We arrived home from Florida on Monday, but it wasn’t until today that it was announced that all returning travellers should self-isolate for 14 days. Despite having been “out and about” for the past 3 days, we elect to follow orders. I wonder if we should be reporting all the places we’ve been since we got back. Ethical dilemmas like this are bound to keep cropping up.
I move my computer and telephone home get it all set up and call it a day. It’s Friday.
Mon March 16
Our phone guy sold us a VOIP system a few months ago. He kept saying “You can take your phone home and it will be just like you are in the office.” I remember thinking, “Why in blazes would I want to take my business phone home?” Oh.
Wed March 18
Knowing that this will blow over soon and I will be back to the office I slack off big time while “working from home.” (I really want to say, “Have I been working hard or hardly working,” but that’s too much of a dad joke). By slacking off I mean helping Ellen clean out our house from top to bottom. We purchased a new home back in February and hope to sell our house before the fall. It’s nice to have a distraction – you know, something to take our minds off what might be happening to the real estate market.
Mon March 23
A few years ago, I made a conscious decision to not try to keep up with all rapidly changing technology. I can delegate. My focus has always been on direct contact with our clients and for that I needed to know how to work a phone and how to drive a car (and in both cases I am supremely proficient). I have become a master at asking staff to do the various chores that involved any technology for which I felt lacking in skills and interest. Suddenly, that’s looking like a bad strategy. A big chunk of today was spent learning our back-office system and refreshing my skills on some common tools that we (meaning someone other than me) uses multiple times per day. I suddenly feel like a university student who just realized that the final exam is on everything that I thought was unimportant. And the final exam is tomorrow.
Wed March 25
For the past 18 years or so Gloria has been my personal assistant and has shared the same space as I do at the office. That means that she hears me talking on the phone, sees what’s on my desk, and reminds me at key points of the day what I should be doing next, especially when it appears to her that I am not doing what’s most important (which happens a lot). The technology we have put into place in the past year and half is impressive and for the most part we are all working from our respective homes in a very seamless manner. Except perhaps me.
Thurs March 26
Not driving is saving me at least 15 hours per week which begs the question: Why am I so far behind in my work? Oh yeah – see yesterday’s entry. If you are expecting the letter that usually follows our meeting please be patient.
Sat March 28
I can’t help but notice on Zoom that a lot of men are growing beards. Good idea.
Mon March 30
The office supplies I ordered on-line last week are scheduled to arrive in late May. I needed them, well, last week. The toys that Ellen ordered two days ago for our grandson’s birthday which isn’t until mid-May arrived this morning.
Tues March 31
I haven’t shaved in three days, but there’s no sign of a beard. That reminds me – when I was a teacher back in the 80’s I took a group of grade 9 students (all boys) on a canoe trip. No one shaved for a week. Most of these 13-year old boys looked like Grizzly Adams by the end of the trip. I looked like I shaved every day. Oh yeah. I can’t grow a beard.
Wed Apr 1
As I type my umpteenth email of the day and sign off with "Stay healthy" I realize that I have made this my official signature. Maybe it will catch on like "May the force be with you." My great grandchildren will ask "why does everyone say ‘stay healthy’ when they say goodbye?" And someone will say, "Let me tell you about your great grandpa Bell and the toilet paper shortage of 2020."
Thurs Apr 2
I now feel very proficient at a lot of the software that I had purposely been avoiding and give myself a pat on the back. Not only that, but I am even figuring out how to use software that I didn’t even know existed. Where has Zoom been hiding?
Fri Apr 3
When the girls were young, they all got the chicken pox (or was it measles?) and we were quarantined. This is nothing like that.
Sat Apr 4
It’s surprising how much can be done virtually. It’s disappointing that a haircut can’t.
Mon Apr 6
I set up my home office in what is known as my “studio” – a room that is dedicated to my photography habit. After editing photos for a couple of hours instead of doing client letters I realize that I may need to find another room in which to “work.” Or get Gloria to watch me like Big Brother on my webcam.
Tue April 7
Losing track of time. I stepped out before daybreak to get the newspaper this morning and suddenly realized the ground was covered in snow. How long have I been in isolation?
Wed April 8
Grocery shopping isn’t as much fun as it used to be. In the little store we frequent the aisles are now one way, and there is no going back if you miss something. After three runs through the store I think I got everything. When I get home Ellen asks where are the grape tomatoes? Dammit.
Thurs April 9
Dropped in at the office to pick up some things. This is the first time in my own car for awhile and I notice a ticket for dry cleaning. Later I scan my closet to see what I’m missing. No idea. I think this could be a fun game for Ellen and I.
Sat April 11
I haven’t had a haircut in 5 weeks. If this lasts much longer my dad will be coming back from the dead to tell me I need a haircut just like it was 1975. Wouldn’t that be great.
Mon April 13
That was the strangest Easter weekend on record, but we spent 2 hours on Friday night and 2 hours last night on Zoom or Webex with our three girls and their spouses. And we made a run to the grocery store and then did porch drop offs to leave things for the children and grandchildren on Thursday. Even from a distance or through the windows, seeing their smiling faces was remarkably uplifting. Somehow, we are figuring out how to be together in this time apart. And that is perhaps the greatest lesson of this pandemic. We will figure out a way to continue to do what’s important - and we have been jolted into remembering what was important in the first place.