As I sit here in the Atlanta airport everything seems a little surreal. I travel a few times per month for work and fairly frequently travel through large airports like Atlanta or Charlotte. I look around at what is normally a very busy airport, and while there are still lots of people around, it’s no where near as busy as a normal work week travel day.
How did we get here?
I’m returning from a work related trade show where I worked the booth. When my team and I traveled in on Sunday (a few others had come in several days earlier to setup our booth), the tone of outbreak was still subdued but everyone was cognoscente of what was going on around us. Both the show and our company had implemented a “no hand shake” policy and our company provided us with additional precautions (signs at our booths stating no handshakes, recommendations to not face each other when talking, individual hand sanitizers and bulk hand sanitizers available for us and our booth attendees, etc.). As we worked throughout the week the world wide tone of the virus was continually escalating.
Along with the rest of the world, our company was continually updating policy’s to match the CDC and WHO’s concern. On Tuesday they began instructing team members to eliminate all non business critical travel, and by Wednesday the decision had been made to have anyone who is able to work remote, as well as asking anyone who had traveled this week to self quarantine themselves from work and customer facilities.
For those of us that couldn’t self quarantine at home (due to children or other family members being at risk), they recommended to self quarantine at another location including a hotel, which they graciously offered to pay. With small children at home and my mother and in-laws in the “at risk demographics,” I’ve made the decision to spend the next two weeks in a hotel. I am fortunate that my company is offering to cover these costs due to my travel being work related, but I know for many this isn’t an option.
Hysteria or Justification?
The tone in the airport as I sit here is one of reserved concern. You can tell people are not congregating together, conversations are sparse, and every cough or sneeze is met with a wondering glance of “Is that allergies or something more?” My flight is also much more sparsely populated than normal flights from major airports during the work week.
I’ve been watching the news and the national escalation we have been seeing. First news broke that Massachusetts had declared a state of emergency, then the NCAA had decided to play their games without fans, and finally the NBA postponed the season indefinitely as apparently a member of one of the players tested positive for the virus. While I still believe that the severity is somewhere between the people who are marginalizing everything and an all out panic, but I do believe that we owe it to ourselves to be cautious.
The rate the virus appears to spread and the potential to overwhelm our healthcare system are real poses a threat that we as a country (and as a planet) likely haven’t seen since the Spanish flu. Combined that with a much more connected world since then justifies all the actions being taken. We must absolutely slow the spread of the virus to both limit exposure to at risk groups as well as to give our healthcare system the ability to handle the wave of people that are inevitably going to come down with it.
Everything is full of opportunities…
All that being said I will use this opportunity to take a breath, but still be productive. I’ve worked constantly since I was 19 years old, and have never taken more than 10 days at any given time away from work. I already miss my wife and kids dearly as I be been away from them for 5 days and are looking at at least 14 more. I regret the load I’m putting on my wife as she tries to navigate this alone with our two young girls. In order to maintain focus and keep positivity I think it’s best to lay down daily goals. There are 24 hours in a day and I plan to make the most of them. Here are the weekday items I plan to accomplish (thankfully I am still able to work remotely):
- Get 8 hours of sleep every night (I’m both blessed and cursed with not being a natural sleeper, getting between 6-7 hours and being energized for the entire day). With not having to travel to work I’m going to attempt to get the recommended 8 hours a day. This may even include (I’m sure to the shock of my wife) a nap here or there.
- Eat healthy. In sequestering myself I’ll be cooking a majority of my own food, so my target is a healthy diet each day
- Exercise everyday. To help keep some of the stir crazy away, and to ensure I don’t get fat from sitting in a hotel room each day I plan to exercise each day. I like to run and I’m debating the social correctness of leaving my room and running (my hotel is not directly around a dense living area, and I think I can easily plan a route that would likely have little human interaction), but at a minimum I will stream some kind of high activity/HITT type workout to follow.
- I will continue to work (8 hours a day Monday through Friday). We are in a growth stage at work, and even if customer activity slows due to similar virus policies, there are still numerous internal items that need to be accomplished.
- Virtually date my wife. I love her dearly and know my lack of presence will put a sever burden on her essentially becoming a single parent for 2 weeks. Since we’ve been married the longest we have been apart is 12 days, and we are already at 5 with the prospect of 14 more. I will try to daily find ways to keep our love engaged. If any of you have suggestions (I’m sure military and other professions that regularly are gone for months on end might have some great ideas) drop them in the comments below.
- Launch this blog. I’ve always toyed with the idea of blogging about life and personal finance, so I’m going to use my sabbatical time to focus on growing this site and generating content. I plan to document my daily life as a self-quarantine’er and my observances next the world around us.
- Read more. I’m generally an avid reader, but self far this year I haven’t had a chance to finish a book yet. Life has been so crazy that most of my spare time has been focused on getting things done around the house or spending time with my family. I’m going to commit to reading at-least 1 hour per day.
- Minimize the time spent watching TV/surfing the Internet/playing video games. I am still a realist. I know at some point I am going to run out of things to do in my hotel room, but I do hope to minimize my time on these items
- Make a point to text and call my family and close friends more. We all have busy lives and at times this means we don’t communicate with our friends and loved ones as much as we should. I’m going to utilize my newfound free time to make sure those I care about know.
- Finally I’m going to use this time to just take a deep breath and relax. As I said earlier I am blessed with the gift of “go” and always have a list of things that I need to do or accomplish. Ironically you are reading a list of things I still want to accomplish. Without the ability to do anything around my house I will take this time to focus on just taking a breath and appreciating what my normal life is and stay positive about the situation. Despair has no place in our lives if we want to be productive.
We Will Endure!
As we all learn how to deal with this crisis together, remember to be mindful of the people that are being effected by this, pray for everyone involved and their family members, and know that God has made the human race intelligent and resilient. We will endure!
How have you been effected by the virus? Are under self quarantine? Have you been infected? Drop a comment below and let us all know how you are doing.