Quaranteaming is tricky, and we’re figuring it out as we go. I’ve been trying to come up with a simple way to categorize people based on their exposure risk. Letters? Colors? Numbers? Animals?
Conversation with hubby:
Me: What animal would I be? A woodchuck? Like something that hides in a burrow.
Him: No, a woodchuck goes right up on the porch, looks in the window, and eats pizza! Maybe a chipmunk.
Me: I was thinking that. I’m a chipmunk. You’d be a bear; like, “I’m going to eat these berries and I’ll leave you alone if you leave me alone. Maybe it’s time to hibernate.” Now, how about our neighbors? Meerkats? They have to stand in the sun in groups?
Him: Or groundhogs.
Me: But groundhogs hide underground...
Him: But they keep popping their heads out!
Animals are complicated and we know of too many that may not be widely recognized in North America. Capybara? Echidna? I dunno.
I went with numbers.
Let’s say that each individual has a number representing how many people they are in contact with during social isolation. My hubby and I are both a 2, because we see each other and we sometimes see our quaranteam friend. We trust that she is also a 2.
The Unabomber would be a zero, because he would only hang out with himself in a cabin in the woods.
Anyone with an unknown amount would be an X, for ‘variable.’
I have no idea about any stranger on the street, so to me all of them are an X. I should be an X to them, too.
Going through our local friends, one lives alone, which would theoretically make her a zero. But we know that she regularly sees her parents, her sisters, and her nieces and nephews. We also know that she was exposed and refused to tell any of them. They may think of her as a zero, even though she is a 9 within their family group, because they picture her chillaxing alone in her nice apartment.
When they think of their family exposure risk, the ‘zero’ of their group probably wouldn’t be the person who came to mind.
When the three of us started talking about quaranteaming, weeks before we actually took our masks off, we went over our friends, family, and colleagues and started socially profiling them. We were able to decide pretty quickly that anyone with kids was off the list.
Parents will chafe at this, but the simple fact is that parents believe they know their children’s souls and they can tell when they are lying. WE actually were children and teenagers ourselves at one point, and we know better! We’ve also spent years mentoring young people, who tell us they confide things in us that they would never tell their families. And we know better than to think that kind of statement makes them 100% open books to us, either.
We also see young people in groups doing very reckless things, and we assume they all have parents.
Guess what? NO, your kids are not wearing their masks - at all. If they are pretending to, the mask is in fact hanging off one ear, or dangling around their neck, or worn around forehead or chin. They are not physically distancing with their friends any more than they ever did before the pandemic.
The only reason this is our problem is because we do occasionally have to leave the apartment, and young people are perpetually walking or jogging or skateboarding or pushing a shopping cart too near to us. They don’t care.
This is why to us, anyone in regular contact with anyone under 30 is automatically off the list. Every kid gets an asterisk
And we get to say that because it’s OUR asterisk
The saddest group, to me, are all the people who can’t physically distance at work. This is sad for two reasons: those who are forced to work with no PPE and not allowed to wear any even if they bring their own. This is awful and so unfair! The other category make me sad for a different reason. They are those, mostly self-employed, who aren’t taking precautions because they think the risks are overblown.
We know three people in this category: a personal trainer, a hair stylist, and a dog walker.
The trainer already had COVID-19, as did his girlfriend and at least four of his clients, three of whom are still training with him in person. When we talked to him about offering classes virtually and potentially earning a lot more, maybe even becoming nationally known, he refused. He has no interest in learning how to use social media, or even recording video for that matter. He’d rather continue to risk his own health than reframe his business.
The hair stylist thinks she might be immune, which scares me because she has an autoimmune disorder and is about ten years older than me. I worry for her the most.
The dog walker has an appointment to get tested today because she was exposed to someone who now has a sore throat.
These are all people I know and like, people I’ve seen socially, hugged, brought coffee, eaten meals with, etc. I wish I didn’t have to avoid spending time with them, but for the next year, I will. Because all three of them are Xs. They see various people all day, every day, and all of those people have their own households and their own workplace variables.
When we do bubble math, we have to keep to our own local community, because seeing anyone else in person would involve traveling. That is unfair to the other cities. I would dearly love to fly up and see my family right now. Frankly, I’d love to just move in with them! Oregon is keeping the numbers nice and low - which is exactly why they don’t need a carload of people from an X region like Southern California heading their direction.
My husband and I are extremely lucky. We’re lucky because we were both exposed, and even though I was deathly ill for a month, we survived. Everyone in our cluster lived through it. We’re lucky because our kid is independent and lives safely outside our hot zone, 500 miles away. We’re lucky because we’re debt-free, insured, and our employer is WFH-mandatory. We’re also lucky because our social lives have improved during the pandemic. Suddenly we have text threads going all day long. We’re back in touch with people we hadn’t seen in years, and it helps us feel like our bubbles are actually much bigger.
Now I have to go get ready for virtual game night tonight. Ciao!
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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