adventures from the homefront, COVID-19 edition, episode 10: touch everything

I have been doing a fantastic job of sheltering in place and avoiding humanity. It comes easy to me if course, since I hate people. At this point, unless I picked it up at the grocery store a few days ago, I should be COVID-19-free or asymptomatic-COVID-19-recovered.

But this morning I had three errands to run, and I didn’t bring any wipes or sanitizer or gloves with me. Oops. It was a good object lesson. Here’s a run-through of my journey, and the things I touched and hypothetically smeared with disease along the way:

As I head out the door, I grab keys and my phone, which lives in a wallet-like case that contains my important cards. I also have Everest by the leash, and Anthony follows carrying Madeline. The dogs are going to daycare for some much-needed peer play and grooming. I open the car doors and get the dogs and me in. Put on the seatbelt, grab the wheel, open the windows, move the stick shift into gear. Touch touch touch touch.

I drive over to doggy day care. I follow their COVID-19 plan and call from the car so Michelle can come out for the dogs. She takes the leashes from me (touch). The groomer also meets us outside and we fuss over the dogs as we chat, but we keep our distance. I ask Michelle how things are going. Business is slower so they’ve cut back hours, but she’s grateful to have a job at all. She is really going to need her stimulus check, she says.

I get back in the car – touch door handle, touch seatbelt, touch stick shift, touch window controls, touch keys – and drive down the street to the gas station. I need to fill up because we’re going to Horicon Marsh on this beautiful day to take a long walk. I pull up to the pump and get out.

Now is when I realize that o regret not planning ahead with sanitizer. An Orwellian female voice blares over the loudspeakers: we are committed to your health! Please come inside to wash your hands or use sanitizer after you pump!

Oh sure, come through your doors and into the place where all of the people are gathering in your convenience shop? I don’t think so.

I pull out my debit card and glare at the pump. How many people have used it today? Touch touch touch. I breathe and shove in my card, punch the buttons to pay. Touch touch. I pull out the nozzle, touch and get the gas going.

Now is when it all starts to go soggy in my mind, as I stand there waiting. I’ve touched equipment that has no doubt been touched by hundreds of hands since the last time it was cleaned in any way. This is always hard for me anyway, but right now I’m acutely aware of how gross it is. I try not to make keening noises.

Instead, I pull my debit card out of the pay slot, open the passenger side door, touch touch, and reach for my phone wallet. Something stops my hand. Instead of putting the card away, I drop it in the Stuff Slot in the car’s center console. (What am I supposed to call that space? I really don’t know.) I close the passenger door and wait. When the tank is full, I grit my teeth… pull out the nozzle and get it back on its pump slot, touch touch, look around forlornly for sanitizer, and get back in the car. Touch door handle, touch seatbelt, touch keys, touch wheel, touch stick shift.

I continue on to my last stop, the drive-through ATM at my local bank branch. I’m regretting the stacked errands the whole way. Maybe just one stop on an outing is the way to go. I pull up to the ATM and take a deep breath. I need to get cash now because I probably won’t have another chance before I pick up the dogs later today. I need to give the doggy day care ladies an enormous tip. I’m saving so much money with everything closed. I need to inject funds into our micro-local economy, help out my village when I can.

I roll down the car window, touch, and stick my card into the ATM box. Enter my pin, grab the bills. Retrieve my card, roll up the window. Touch touch touch. Touch wheel, touch stick shift, touch money, touch debit card.

I drive home. All I can think about is how incredibly toxic my car might be now, and also where is the closest box of Clorox wipes? I think it’s in the bathroom right next to the kitchen door. I pull into the driveway. Touch car door handles, touch phone and debit car and keys as I shove them in my coat pocket, touch storm door knob, touch kitchen door knob, touch Clorox box. Yes!

I pull out 4 million wipes and go to town. Wipe phone, wipe keys. Wipe debit card and put it back in phone case. Wipe door knobs as I head back to the car. Wipe door handle as I open the door, wipe seatbelt, wipe wheel, wipe stick shift, wipe window open-close buttons. Wipe passenger door handle – good remembering, Carla! Stare at the car for a moment to make sure I’m not forgetting anything.

I head back in and wipe the counter where I placed by keys and phone when I came in. I start wiping random surfaces. I eventually stop and get myself a cup of coffee.

Next time, just one errand, and wipes in the car. Check.

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