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Day one of the quarantine: an experience

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It was Sunday night, the 15th of March. I was sitting up late on my computer trying to catch up on this horrendous virus that’s taking over the world. The news did not look good. Stock markets were crashing, people were buying all the toilet paper etc. Actually there was no normal news. Everything was about Coronavirus, but in fact nothing was very helpful. My Czech has been coming along so I checked out something that would take me more time to read. I went on to a Czech news site and there was that Babis guy that everyone seems to love in the Czech Republic, but the Praguers are always hard on. I read that as of midnight the country is going into quarantine. Only work, groceries and drugs. Otherwise we are confined to our living quarters.

I wasn’t sure if I was happy or shocked, but I decided that I had planned enough for this and had been telling people for years that something was coming. My wife, three kids and I will be happy together, eating through the mountains of supplies I had bought up over the past two weeks. Even better, my employer decided to put office staff on home office. Vacation!!

Monday morning I was awoken by my oldest boy poking me in the eye. I took him to the kitchen and announced to the family that pops is going to be home for at least 10 days!! My wife looked at me and asked if I was going to get paid? My older boy asked if I can make him breakfast, my youngest just started crying. So it started: home office.

Usually we have an extra bedroom in the back I use for an office/storage. The youngest sleeps with us in the master, the other two in the second room, third room is the office. But I didn’t think about the possibility that we would have forced home office. I opened the door and found it hard to enter the room. I had to pile over four 5Kg bags of rice and several multipacks of dried beans, try and slide by two boxes of that milk that lasts forever, then be careful not to smash the thirty some odd jars of fruit I bought up on sale at the shop below. I should have put the packages of toilet paper in between the jars because as I came around I tripped on the rice and fell over, right into the jars. There was fruit salad everywhere, sugary water oozing in between the jars, heading towards the toilet rolls. What a start. I ran out and got some cleaning stuff but it was too late. 10 rolls of toilet paper, four jars of fruit and an hour of cleaning, gone.

After I rearranged the storage room I built it back into an office. I used the beer crates of empties as shelves for all the back-up supplies, a trick I learned from the Vietnamese folks below us who run the store. The empty beer crates irked me. I had stocked up for the quarantine I saw coming, but my neighbor Honza came over on Friday night to ask me if I knew anything about boats. We started with one beer, but he ended up staying all night and we drank almost all the beers, which were to last me for two weeks, in one night! I still don’t know anything about boats! Three beers left.
My kids came in and asked me to play with them. I figured why not, lost my ambition for work already. We went out into the living room and my wife asked me what I was doing. Playing with the kids was not really an option because they were suppose to continue learning. So my plan of playing hide-and-go-seek, so I could hide somewhere and get a nap, quickly turned into counting and reading. Now I am not great at this stuff but I tried. I looked over at the clock and it was 9:30. This was going to be a long day.

My wife asked me if I could finally hang the fixture in our entrance since I was bored with the school work. I guess it was obvious so I took on the project. I was hopelessly looking at the instructions for hanging the light fixture when I got a call from the office and hid myself to take care of important business. Back to what I know!

By the time the call ended I was looking for some lunch. My wife told me I should make some of those beans which are blocking the entrance to the office. I don’t even know how to make beans. In fact I was used to buying baked beans, but the stores were out so I bought dried ones. How does that work? I did a quick search on the internet and found out you should soak them for four hours, then cook them for three. A bunch of ingredients, I didn’t have half the stuff you need to make beans. I thought it was all in the package.

I rested on a sandwich but the meat and bread were finished. Lucky one of those online grocery stores were still working so I ordered the remaining ingredients, and some other things, to get us through the week. I also cooked up a pot of rice in case anyone wanted some. The little fellas like rice.

That brought us to 14:00. Today was very long. I went back to my office and handled some emails. Most people were just writing about what they were doing etc. The kids kept coming in and doing odd things to get my attention. Wow kids have energy. I told them not to come in the office so to not break all of the food, but they didn’t listen. Soon there was another mess to clean up and another toilet roll bag was violated. I was getting frustrated and it was only day one.
Usually I get home at 18:00 and pick it up from there, but all day with the family and 18:00 felt like 23:30. We put on a movie and hoped that would work. It didn’t. Full chaos and screaming all evening, the kids had too much energy.

I put on the news to see what was going on. There was the Prague Mayor showing us how to make our own masks, which will come in handy, because as of Tuesday we all have to wear masks to go in to mass transit, shops or government offices. I thought about what t-shirt I was going to make my mask out of and decided on the “Heart of Darkness Cambodia” as the winner. The skull perfectly covered my mouth and nose.

Just like this story the night never ended and I started extrapolating in my mind how long this quarantine could go? I don’t know, but it’s going to be a long one. Tomorrow is Tuesday, I need to find a way to get through this.

Paul Lysek

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