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Excerpts from my COVID-19 Isolation Journal – Part II

Monday Apr 20, 2020

I haven’t had french fries, onion rings, fried chicken, really fried anything, for 40+ days now.  When this is over, I’m booking my annual physical.  Doc is going to be blown away by my amazing cholesterol numbers.  Wait, are potato chips fried?   


Tuesday Apr 21

I am now in a routine of working out three times per week with my personal trainer Chad.  Three times.  It used to be a stretch (hah, that’s funny), to get in two workouts per week.  Luckily, I have a few basic pieces of workout equipment, and an elliptical.  And Chad has scoured the basement (via my webcam) and found other things that have turned out to be useful.  Apparently workout equipment is like toilet paper – everyone rushed to buy it at the start of the pandemic and now it’s scarce and expensive.  I suspect that there will be a glut of gym equipment on Kijiji when this is over as people realize they spent a fortune on stuff they barely used and will likely never use again. I may pick up some things then.  Buy low and sell high is good advice in more than just the stock market.    

 

Monday Apr 27 

As mentioned earlier, we are moving, and hoping to sell our house in the next few months.  Today was “picture day” and the weekend was all about cleaning and hiding anything that we didn’t want to be seen in pictures.  With COVID-19, the photographer needs to be alone in the house, eliminating the idea that we could simply move our junk from room to room and stay one step ahead of him during the shoot.  Today we tried to erase any remaining traces of human existence and pulled the door behind us at about 12:30 pm effectively sealing off our house from anyone who didn’t have an expensive camera.  If the Queen was wanting to visit however, this would be a good day.  Ellen headed over to the office and I awaited the arrival of the photographer, scheduled for 1 pm.  At 1:30 I contacted our realtor and discovered that apparently, “the photo company messed up, and they can’t do it today.”  I suddenly felt like someone who has spent two days prepping for a colonoscopy only to find out the procedure isn’t scheduled for today.  I gave that analogy to our realtor and…the photographer arrived at 2:30. 

 

Tuesday Apr 28

After my fourth call of the day I might be catching on to a key technology fix-it strategy – reboot.  Almost everything can be solved by simply turning things off and then back on.  I have a great idea for the house of the future.  A big red “reboot” button.  Every morning you power the house down and turn it back on.  Voila.  This could be my million dollar idea.  

 

Wednesday Apr 29

Last night I told Ellen about my great ‘reboot the house’ idea.  She said, “Yea, we already have that.  Just pull the big lever on the electrical panel in the basement.”  Rats.  I’m gonna power down the house in the middle of her favourite tv show.    


Saturday May 2

The warm weather has brought people outside.  The neighbours behind us have been out a fair bit over the past few weeks working on their yard – or more accurately trying to tame the wild growth of bushes and weeds that has locked onto the fence that separates us.  We are seeing them more frequently, and more clearly thanks to their clearing efforts.  I feel as though a real friendship is budding here.  And we are moving.  A psychiatrist would have something to say about this.    

 

Sunday May 3

COVID-19 Law Number 23: The chances that your face will get itchy is directly proportional to the potential risk of the surface you just touched.  

 

Monday May 4

May the 4th be with you.  

Oreos are the world’s best-selling cookie.  First introduced in 1912, they are now available in over 100 countries.  I definitely contributed to their success.  When I was a in high school I had a gang of friends – nerds mostly – we would meet at my house, which was two blocks from the school, on a regular basis and play monopoly. (I already said we were nerds).   And we would eat an entire bag of Oreos each time.  I didn’t even give it a second thought, but my parents spent a small fortune feeding my friends and never complained once.  I stopped eating Oreos some time ago, but recently, they have found their way into our shopping cart and I grabbed a handful and a glass of milk today and thought about that time I finally beat those guys at Monopoly.  The sweet taste of victory still comes through every bite.  

 

Tuesday May 5

On Saturday morning, early, I ordered some bags of soil and grass seed so that I can get our lawn looking like, well, lawn, so that people who might want to buy our house (still imagining that might happen) won’t think it’s impossible to grow grass on this particular lot (although I think it is).  I wanted to pick it up at the store and assumed I would be able to do so later that day.  On Sunday when I began to wonder why I hadn’t received the email to advise me the order was ready for pickup I logged into the Home Depot website to check on my order.  Turns out I did the order incorrectly and had set up two separate orders – one for 10 bags of soil that were going to picked up, and one for a smallish bag of grass seed that was going to be delivered.  I tried to reach someone, anyone, via email, text, telephone call, voice mail, smoke signals, and carrier pigeon, but there seemed to be no conceivable way of communicating with anyone at Home Depot to let them know that they should put the small bag of grass seed in the same order as the bags of soil.  

Today, at 3 pm, I got an email letting me know that my soil was ready for pickup.  I hopped in the car and headed over.  A long line of cars was snaking towards check point A and for the next hour and half I felt as though I was smuggling ammunition from behind enemy lines.  The first checkpoint was merely to make sure that you weren’t wasting anyone’s time.  Anyone I guess except for everyone in line.  The second check point was where you provided your order number - basically a secret password – to a “guard” in a small shanty – and then were given instructions to go to the rendezvous point, in this case parking zone 8 where you waited in silence.  

After what seemed like an eternity, a woman emerged from the store, literally running while pushing a cart with 10 bags of soil on it. This was my pickup.  My heart started racing.  As she approached the side of my car (we were all parked with lots of room between us – we don’t want our vehicles getting COVID-19 from other vehicles) she paused just long enough to make sure that the cart wasn’t going to roll into the side of my car and then dashed off – presumably to avoid incoming enemy fire.  

Risking said enemy fire, I loaded my car quickly, parked the cart in the appropriate cart return location (hey, I’m not a jerk) and drove out quickly – squealing my tires for effect.   

That evening I received an email from Home Depot wanting me to rate their service.  After I stopped laughing, I decided to make a few comments.  My favourite question they asked was “Did the sales person ask you if there was anything else they could get you?” to which I answered, “You mean like a bag of grass seed so that you wouldn’t have to deliver that to me later?  No.”  


Anyways, I have soil, but no seed.  

 

Thursday May 7

Hair salons are re-opening in Texas tomorrow.  I’m going to drive down and get a hair cut.  Ellen thinks I won’t get across the border.  What she doesn’t know is that I can do some Jedi mind tricks (I can’t tell her that, she’ll think I’ve been using them on her).  Here is how I think things will play out at the border crossing in Niagara.  

As I approach the border – empty of course – I will notice a border security guard on each side of the road watching me approach.  They will be dressed in full white armor like Storm Troopers, of course.  As I approach one will step to the centre of the road and put up his hand for me to stop.  He’s the boss.  I come to a stop and slide my power windows down on both sides.  They peer in from each side and the boss says in a surly tone “Where do you think you’re going (emphasis on the you’re), the border is closed.”  I will wave my hand in a slow arc and say in a soothing tone “I’m not the Canadian you’re looking for.”  The boss will say “This isn’t the Canadian we are looking for,” – and the sidekick will nod.  Then I will do the same slow wave with my hand and say, “I’m just going to get a haircut in Texas.”  The sidekick will nod and say, “He does need a haircut.”  They both will nod, and the boss will step back and waving his arm say, “Ok, way you go.” 

Later that day, I will be sitting in a fancy salon in Texas getting a haircut.  Wait, how long does it take to drive to Texas?  (Pause while I plug this into Waze).  Crap.  Ok, I might wait until they open the salons in Buffalo.  

 

Tuesday May 12

Arriving on time for a meeting in Toronto means planning to arrive 30 minutes early, effectively wasting 30 minutes prior to most meetings.  Arriving on time for a phone appointment with someone who is in Toronto means stopping whatever I’m doing 30 seconds prior to regroup and dial the phone.  Advantage noted.   

 

Wednesday May 20

The garden centres opened yesterday and I went over to Home Depot to pick up a few things – most notable among them, grass seed.  According to the Home Depot website it was “shipped” 5 days ago.  The Home Depot is a 5 minute drive away.  I watched carefully on the way over to make sure that someone wasn’t carrying it over by hand.  Nope.  You may be wondering why I returned to Home Depot after my terrible experience with them recently.  Really, no hard feelings.  These are unusual times and well, I’m just trying to find the humour in all of this.  We are still friends.      

 

Thursday May 21

Here’s a couple of things that I think will change permanently.  

  • All future office meetings will be done by Zoom.  If we call a meeting in the boardroom a number of people are bound to say: “Why can’t we meet via Zoom, why do I have to walk to the boardroom?”

 

  • A personal refrigerator will become a standard part of an office.  Well, my office at least.  

 

Saturday May 23

My grass seed arrived today.  Time to order driveway salt.   

 

Monday May 25

As much as I crave the return to “normal” and be allowed to hug my children and grandchildren, gather for a family dinner and shake hands with friends, there are some things I’m going to miss.  It’s probably a good thing that our return to normal is most likely to be gradual and not sudden.  If tomorrow we wake up to discover that COVID-19 has surrendered and we are all safe to do as we please, I think most of us would think, “Oooh, I’m not quite ready to return to the way things were in January.  Let’s give it a few more weeks.”  We might go out for dinner, but hey, I’m not getting on the 404 tomorrow morning at 8 am.  Change is hard – no matter what direction it’s taking us.