That was the length of my quarantine. 64 fucking days. I left on March 17th, and I went back yesterday, May 22nd.
At times the 64 days felt like an eternity, and at times, like right now, it’s felt like I was shot out of a cannon. I entered 64 days ago and I arrived here, sitting in my backyard, wondering where all the time went.
64 days is the longest I’ve been without work since 2012, when as a 22 year-old I was unemployed for a little over a year. Even then, for the majority I was attending dealer school almost every day, so I was at least keeping occupied. I was at least surrounded by people, keeping my brain stimulated, learning shit.
It’s been a long time — these 64 days — and yet it hasn’t. What is 64 days? It’s two months and a bit of pocket change. It’s a little more than one-sixth of a year, or about 17.5% of a full 365 (and one-quarter) day calendar. It’s a lot. And it’s also nothing at all.
64 is kind of the perfect number. That’s how many teams used to be in the NCAA Tournament before they expanded the field to 68. It’s perfect because you can divide it by two to give you 32; then you can divide it by two to give you 16; then you divide it by two to give you 8; then 4; then 2.
But the truth is, 64 days hasn’t really been 64 days. It would be more accurate, and more honest, to continue breaking in half the number 64 to its logical conclusion. There, and only there, do you have your answer: 1. 64 days in quarantine was actually just one abnormally long day.
For some people, there was no quarantine. There was simply going to work one day, and waking up to go to work the next. I’m talking about nurses, grocery store clerks, Amazon workers, postal workers, fast food workers, cops, police officers, fire fighters, other assorted public employees. My number was 64; their number is zero, or nonexistent.
And there are also those whose quarantine remains. They may have started before me, or they may have started after me. They may return to work in a week or two, or a month, or never. Maybe their jobs have been eliminated, sacrificed at the alter of COVID-19 and the multimillionaires and billionaires who didn’t want to infringe on their bottom lines. My number was 64; their number is infinite, or at least until they once again find gainful employment.
It’s kind of crazy, because it doesn’t matter how long it’s been. In a cosmic sense, even the last 200,000 years (or so, depending on which evolutionary biologist you want to believe vis-a-vis how long humans have walked the earth) is merely the blink of an eye. What’s 200,000 years if earth has been around 4.5 billion years? And what is the pittance of 64 days compared to those 200,000 years?
Again, it’s everything. It’s everything in the sense that it’s the longest stretch I’ve ever had of not working, or not schooling, and the overwhelming likelihood is that it will be the longest stretch I will have in my lifetime. Never again will I have 64 days of relative nothingness — aside from video games and assorted workout sessions — until I’m dead.
And, again, it’s nothing. It’s nothing in the sense that 64 days doesn’t even register a little bit on the richter scale of my life. As a 30 year-old, I’ve been walking the earth (or the streets of San Bernardino/Redlands/Riverside) for about 11,000 days. I don’t even have to do the math on that for you to understand how minimal it is. (But since we’re here it’s 0.0058.)
I’m happy to be working again, no doubt, but I’m also of the mind that the sudden reopening of many California casinos was gravely premature. For a 24/7 business, 64 days might as well be a lifetime (factoring in the tens of millions of dollars in revenue the tribe lost).
But what is a lifetime from a financial perspective when COVID-19 — the reason my 64 days were 64 days — is literally taking lives, or at the least putting them at risk? I’m pretty confident I’ll be fine. But what about my 75 year-old dad? What about my 60 year-old mom? What about the parents and families of anyone who has to work on the frontlines? Is any amount of money worth that risk?
These are idle questions coming from the perspective of the labor, the proud working class person that I am. These are the thoughts of a guy who spent 64 days in quarantine, thinking it might take another 64. Because while I ask about the risk, and what opening business is worth compared to the potential of lives lost, those at the top have already answered it for me.