On Tuesday, I went for my first COVID test. Perhaps, as this pandemic drags on, this will become a rite of passage (hopefully not literally) for many. But a persistent dry cough for the last week activated my neurosis enough to take the plunge.
As someone who rarely leaves the house these days, going for a COVID test felt like the biggest adventure I’d taken in months. That might not seem particularly exciting for the folks who are still inexplicably hitting up bars for some reason. But to me, the oddity of the situation sparked an unexpected feeling of normalcy.
For someone like myself, who spends non-COVID times stricken with anxiety in virtually every public setting, I’d sort of forgotten what it felt like to be nervous in a social situation. I spent the entire time in line thinking, “I’m the idiot who will somehow screw this lineup for everyone else.” We were all in our cars, so I didn’t get to project imaginary stares of disapproval on everyone’s faces. But it did still seem like their automobiles were angry at me. It was kind of neat!
Finally reaching the front of the line and getting the test was simultaneously surreal and uneventful. Sitting in a small garage surrounded by healthcare professionals covered head to toe in PPE felt like something out of a movie. But the workers were kind and courteous (underlining how badly we need to throw frontline workers a ticker-tape parade when this is all over), and getting a swab shoved into a part of my nose so deep I didn’t know existed was surprisingly fine.
I’m still waiting for my test results, but as I basked in my own narcissistic appreciation of social anxiety, it made me weirdly hopeful for the future. Seeing people take unnecessary trips to the gym or restaurants during a pandemic can activate my pessimism. But seeing a kilometre-long line of cars, their drivers patient, and a garage full of people working together for collective good? That activates my optimism.
Published in Volume 75, Number 06 of The Uniter (October 22, 2020)