Dan and I are very sick with what we hope and pray is just a flu bug. Dan never gets sick- honestly, in the seventeen years that we’ve been together, he has maybe been ill three times. It has been a week of misery for him and five days for me, and our symptoms are only seeming to worsen.
Because of all the travel I’ve done recently, the airports and packed, cramped planes, the large events at several universities in multiple states that I’ve visited, we decided to get tested for the corona virus when it was announced that one company in our area had the coveted testing kits and was opening two drive-thru testing sites near us.
The response was truly overwhelming; the testing center was overrun with people wanting to be tested, the line of cars stretching as far as the eye could see. We waited over three hours to be tested, the very kind doctor telling us that she had been grocery shopping that morning when her husband (owner of the testing clinic) called her and said he needed has as soon as possible to deal with the crush of people. She kept apologizing for the wait, but we assured her that we were just grateful to be able to be tested when so many don’t have the opportunity.
We have seen both the good and the bad in humanity during this pandemic; some people at the testing site forced their way in front of cars that had been waiting hours, as no police were there to stop them- only frazzled assistants dressed in masks and hazmat suits giving out directions and paperwork. People are hoarding basic necessities like it’s the end of the world instead of considering others who may be in need. Toilet paper is nowhere to be found in Birmingham, but as I’m the daughter of a woman who had to use the Sears Roebuck catalogue during the Depression, I have always followed suit and kept plenty of TP in the house. We have what we need to ride this out, but I know there are so many less fortunate who don’t.
There has been a lot of good happening, too; our university is transitioning to on-line instruction for the foreseeable future, as are so many schools around the country and the world. People around the world are sharing resources and innovative ideas to be able to teach music courses on-line and still give our students the best instruction we are able to give under the circumstances. Companies are offering free tools and internet access to assist students with this new world as they face the stress of trying to maintain some sort of normalcy to their education. Technology stresses so many of us out on a good day, and I’m truly grateful for the wellspring of goodwill and ideas as people work together. Neighbors are reaching out to offer assistance to the elderly and to young students who may not have access to food with schools being closed down. Even with all of the selfishness and ignorance out there, the good in humanity always rises to the surface. What a beautiful thing.
It will take twenty-four or more hours until we receive our results, and until then we are self-quarantining to make sure we don’t give anyone this awful plague- whatever it is. I shopped for groceries on Shipt for the first time last night and bought Marley’s food on Chewy. I wonder to myself, what did people do in times like this before we had these options?
All we can do is to wait out the storm, and once we are healthy we can then help our community deal with this mess. I worry about my friends at the Home for Wayward Seniors, but there is no way that I can visit them right now. I worry about my students who, like their professors, are thrust into an uncomfortable new world of distance learning. I worry about my sweet Dan who is sixty-seven and sounds so awful right now. I worry about my musician friends who are losing the work they depend upon, the service industries and workers…the trickle down will be devastating on such a large scale. There are so many vulnerable people in Birmingham and around the country…my heart aches with what could very well be our future.
For now, we wait and rest. We practice social distancing, we wash our hands and clean. We don’t panic; instead we encourage each other, help each other in anyway we can, we prepare to work in new and different ways. And, we hope. Wishing you all good health.