The latest odd event in my life is an unexpected three days off while the building I work in is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. This mini-vacation has happened because one of the lab employees has a confirmed case of COVID-19. They did what they could with contact tracing and sent a dozen or so employees home for two weeks of self-quarantine, then surprised the rest of us with these days off.
It was weird, learning about this. We were at one of the busiest points of our day–nearing the end of it–when the director overseeing our department stopped by and sent us all home. I had to ask her twice if I was just supposed to drop everything and head out. About an hour or so later, simultaneous text and phone messages confirmed what she’d told us.
Since our daily work load is based on daily deliveries, and those deliveries aren’t going to stop, I don’t know what they’ll do when we get back on Monday. Five days of shipments would mean a straight 24-hour work day, so they can’t expect us to get it all done in one day, but there are promises made to vendors about timely work. Besides, we can’t just keep getting further and further behind.
But I can’t worry about that now. It would ruin this time off. Yes, I’m told we’ll be paid, although how they’ll coordinate that is an additional question mark to me. We get fourteen days of COVID-19 paid time off just for self-quarantine purposes. Will we be expected to draw on that? If so, what happens if I come in contact with someone with a confirmed case and am sent home for two weeks? Will I have unpaid time off? I can’t expect the company to pay for an infinite amount of coronavirus vacation.
The obvious thing to be worried about is getting the virus myself, but somehow, that doesn’t concern me. We don’t know who the employee was who contracted COVID-19, but we do know about many of the people who were sent home, and it was in a department with which I rarely come into contact. Plus, I’ve been taking all the precautions. I wear a mask, I avoid communal rooms such as the break room (the rest rooms I clearly can’t avoid), I wash my hands frequently and stay six feet away from others whenever possible. That last one isn’t always possible, but I do my best.
I’m just glad my coronavirus story doesn’t include being laid off, and I pray that that good luck continues. I don’t know how I’d survive without my job. These government subsidies aren’t going to last forever.
So what do I plan to do with this unexpected vacation? If I’m smart, I’ll dig into the mess that rests in my second bedroom, clean it out and set up an office/sewing room. Every time I try, it overwhelms me, so I need to break it down into manageable, doable pieces–and start getting together a bunch of boxes for Goodwill.
I pray for that fellow employee who has the coronavirus and wish him or her a speedy recovery. I also pray that no one else at work contracts the disease, although I realize that’s being optimistic.
And I pray for a quick end to COVID-19, for the time we can look back on it and breathe a sigh of relief that this particular pandemic is over.
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