Still A Pariah

Dearest Rachel –

This last day or so have, emotionally speaking, been like riding on a pendulum – perhaps on one of those cuckoo clocks this country is so famous for. Even as news begins to trickle in to me, suggesting that there might be a way for me to get out sooner than I anticipated, I continue to be given reminders that, for the next few days at least, I am still to be treated as a pariah.

Now, you know I don’t like to make a fuss when I’m staying in a hotel room; we were two of a kind, in that way. As a general rule, if we were staying for a number of days in the same room, we would keep the ‘do not disturb’ sign on our door so as not to trouble housekeeping throughout our stay. Granted, we didn’t bother to do this on the cruise ships – if for no other reason than that we wanted to see what kind of origami animals they would make of our towels each night.

For the most part, this wasn’t all that different from our life at home, after all. It’s not as if we would change our own bed linen every day, or every week, or even every month, truth be told. We just didn’t disturb things that much to make it worth the bother.

I don’t suppose you remember which year it was – when so many of them occur at the same venue, the years tend to run together – but there was one year at Anime Iowa when they were holding a ‘cleanest room’ competition this was announced at the closing ceremonies (which you always insisted on staying for), and we actually managed to win. I think we got a $100 gift card for it. Bear in mind, this was at the largest hotel in the entire state, while it was closest to capacity in terms of guest load. And it’s not like we did anything special – in fact, we didn’t think we’d be in the running for the competition, as we hadn’t even checked out yet. Maybe that’s one of the advantages of being among the ‘adults in the room’ at that point; we just know not to trash the place beforehand, so that any cleanup we have to do before housekeeping gets in is negligible.

Of course, I still try to be relatively inconspicuous as a hotel guest these days. Sure, I’m ordering room service twice a day (hope you’ve been enjoying those reports of what the food is like, by the way), but that aside, I’ve tried not to bother the front desk overmuch. And that goes for housekeeping as well; I’ve hung out the ‘do not disturb’ sign from the day I got here – not that most of them needed to be told. Indeed, when the girl came with my breakfast yesterday and brought it inside the room, I was actually quite surprised about it, and commented on it to her. As you’ll recall, it turned out she had not been informed about my situation, or at least thought I had not been displaying any symptoms.

But I’ve been in touch with my parents and other people from back home – both through these letters, as well as other direct emails and phone calls – and someone suggested that I should take a little more advantage of housekeeping, particularly with regard to towels and bed linens as they are being used. Especially due to my illness, they would need to be swapped out at some point.

So I broke down yesterday and called the front desk for new towels and bed linens. They were confused by that letter phrase, and only when I mentioned bed sheets did the penny drop. They told me they would be up in the next fifteen minutes or so, and true to their word, there they were, with a bag full of all the white goods I had requested, all nice and neatly folded.

But when I asked if one of the pair that had delivered these to me could replace the sheets on my bed, they informed me that they could not come into the room.


You’ll pardon me for saying this, but that sort of defeats the whole purpose. I don’t consider myself an expert when it comes to making a bed – and even if I were, I’m so out of practice that it’s hardly worth the trouble. And since I don’t bother with my own bed for days, weeks, months at a time, I guess I’m not doing anything with these sheets.

As for this morning, you might remember that I mentioned that I had to do a saliva test, the first in a series to hopefully arrive at a negative test even before my quarantine officially comes to an end. I was a little bit concerned about waking up in time for the scheduled pick up – and with waking up from a nightmare during the night, I had fair reason to be concerned. But at least the front desk rang me up ten minutes before Viking were to be by to pick up the vial. It was just enough to wake me up – though at the time, I still entertained thoughts of going back to sleep after the hand-off.

So in that time, I threw on some clothes, spit enough into the vial so as to fill the pointy end at the bottom, and prepared for the knock on the door indicating that I should hand off the sample for them to take to their lab for analysis and confirmation.

The knock never came. Instead, there was another phone call; they wanted me to put the vial into the envelope, and set it outside my door, and they would take it from there.


Granted, I suppose that makes sense, considering I’m still assumed to be Covid-positive. No one wants to be around me for any length of time, lest they catch it as well (and be shunned as a leper to the same extent as I am). But I have to admit to growing quite tired of this treatment, even if it is for my own good, and the good of society. It’s not as if I’ve done anything wrong, and yet, here I am in a (admittedly very nice and comfortable) prison cell.

I suppose at least it’s not like the apostle Paul, where he spent much of his imprisonment chained to a Roman soldier. Of course, in my circumstances, that would be the last thing that any Board of Health would do.

At least the sample has been sent off; now to wait for the results. Wish me luck, honey.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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