COVID19 Diaries – Luck Has Been Cancelled

Tuesday, March 17

The morning was spent dialing up my new WFH station and staying in touch with coworkers. My Director decided to buy a laser printer for my set up in case I had to mail service copies, etc. out (I work for an environmental nonprofit that mostly sues government agencies). We also have a petition to file with the Ninth Circuit today, putting Impossible Burger and US FDA on the grill for shady ingredient approval. We also had two other big filings coming up this week, so this first-ever week WFH will be busy.

My first day WFH went quite smoothly, and went by fast. Since San Franciscans can leave their shelter for essential exercise, I decided to take an after-work walk around my neighborhood up to Alamo Square. The first thing I noticed were the lack of tourists. There were none! “San Francisco is tourist free,” I mused. The hill across from the famous Painted Ladies held maybe a dozen people. One small group, others appeared to be distancing, were wearing green. Ah. Today is St. Patrick’s Day. No pubs were open for the amateur night. The parade had been cancelled. Peter Kuper had tweeted a great cartoon about it: One poor leprechaun marching down the street, with “Luck Has Been Cancelled” under the image.

I had a few anxious moments on the walk. Runners passed me a bit too closely a few times, making me avoid anyone that appeared to jog my way. I assumed the huffing and puffing could be a vector to the COVID-19. And I noticed that the dog owners were not being distant enough in the dog play area of the square. Another possible social vector for spreading the virus. Distancing is going to be tricky.

Lack of traffic kept the birdsong going. Most people were avoiding each other. Someone had posted a flyer offering to get groceries for elderly folks who couldn’t manage it. While some media pundits and channels complained about panic, my first day of shelter in place felt more supportive and chill. San Francisco had my back. 

Went home that night to a beautiful sunset. With pollution at low levels, especially with jets and cargo ships getting grounded, the sky is full of dramatic clouds, deep blues, and gasp-inducing sunsets. That, and having meals with my partner today, were good positives. The smooth filing of the petition with the Ninth Circuit was too.

Wednesday, March 18

This afternoon, I posted this on Facebook: 

SF COVID19 Shelter in Place: Day 2 – To be simple and brief, staying in side makes way more sense once one tries to wipe down their apartment’s “high touch” surfaces with a bleach water spray bottle. “Holy hell! What haven’t I touched?” “Cripes! COVID is on my outdoor clothes!” Once the OCD panic attack ends, it is best to stay inside as much as possible.

I’ve stepped up the social media postings since the pandemic was announced, and friends and family have personally thanked me for the updates. Cleaning surfaces became a new routine to work into my morning this week. I also decided to not use an alarm clock and read the news before settling in for work. I still need to work on lessening the news streams. 

Sanitizer wipes have been sold out for days here in San Francisco, but we have bleach in our house. And one roll of paper towels to use to wipe down surfaces. Where to even begin with the surface wiping?! I’m sure we’ll work it out, and I’m sure we’ll have time to create systems to keep the virus out of the flat.

After another mostly smooth day at WFH, I decided to take an essential walk to Lucky on Masonic Street in search of paper towels. I walked up the NoPa hills to get down to the store, and mostly avoided people who may be walking and running along Divisadero and the flatter streets. Though the City seemed very quiet, there was still low-level amounts of traffic, and people walking, along Divis as I headed up Turk. 

The store had no line to get in. A coworker had told me that Trader Joes had lines to get in, which made shopping less stressful. For this trip, I brought my hand-made hand sanitizer (mostly rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle), but saw other shoppers wearing latex gloves and masks. As I meandered over to the paper aisle at the far end of the store, I grabbed some dry beans, a 6-pack of the trendy alcohol-infused water, and chocolate. You know – the important items! The paper aisle was completely sold out. A posted sign said that items would be rationed to two per customer. I made do with more expensive paper napkins since the cheap napkins were also sold out (they did not do well with the bleach water wipe downs). 

At the register, there were no distance restrictions. A worker bagged people’s items. It didn’t feel safe, but I got through it. Around the corner, I ran into a friend as he headed out for a bike ride. His partner teaches nursing, but had been laid off. She was about to get hired again to go on the front lines as a working nurse. It was good to see him, and his being on the bike on the road kept things naturally distant. I wished him health and safety as he pedaled away.

Up the hill at Lyon and Turk, I saw no cars driving for blocks down and towards Sutro Hill. I had dreamed of a car-free city, and this sight made me smile.

Heading back home, the sky was beautiful yet again for what was going to be another nice sunset.