Saturday, April 4, 2020

How do you open your mail?

How do you open your mail?

This is a loaded question. Answering this question will prove to be an insight into how you’re dealing with Covid-19: are you current on every little bit of virus news? Are you fastidious in your virus avoidance? Have you become a little bit crazy?

I used to just go out to the mailbox, retrieve my mail, bring it into the house, open envelopes with a letter opener, and recycle the envelope and junk mail.

But that was Before.

My siblings and I have been Zooming regularly. Massachusetts, San Francisco, Berlin, and Anchorage are a lot better connected now. (In Germany, they call hoarding “hamstering.”) We share news blips and hints that usually send one or another of us into a tailspin. Like this...

My brother said, “We have post-it notes on the table downstairs near the garage door: Monday, Tuesday, each day. Mail is put next to that day’s post-it, and we have to wait four days until we can open it. I’m staring longingly at my New Yorker right now.”

Oh, no! We’re not supposed to open our mail?!? Our mail is carrying virus?!?

So I read up on it. Apparently, Covid-19 can last on paper products and cardboard for 24 hours. And someone saw a mailman with … bare hands! So now, we retrieve the mail with gloves and leave it outside on the front doorstep for a day.

About the same time, while I was still in quarantine because I’d returned from out-of-state, I was desperate for books. The library had closed with my holds inside, and I could only catch a couple books before Title Wave bookstore closed. So I put out a call for books.

Betsey came by with a book. I told her through the window to just leave it outside on the doorstep. It was a paperback and needed 24 hours to de-viralize. Connie came by with jig saw puzzles. Mary came by with a great assortment of books and spotted the jigsaw puzzles; could she borrow a couple?

“Sure, they’ve been out 24 hours. They’re cardboard and they’re safe now. I’ll put you in the jigsaw puzzle rotation.”

Then Julie came by with a book and Judiths came by with more jigsaw puzzles. (There are two Judiths in the jigsaw puzzle rotation.) I had to stage them so the de-viralized books and puzzles wouldn’t touch the newly-deposited books and puzzles. And yes, I wipe down the hard cover books with wipes. Things were piling up.

My front doorstep is a Trading Post. I manage it from behind glass.

Meanwhile, I had not received my primary ballot and couldn’t download the one from the Internet because our printer is on the fritz. So Connie (a different Connie, not jigsaw-puzzle-Connie) printed the ballot and Diane delivered it to the front door while I was out skiing. She texted, “You have a bunch of stuff on your doorstep! People left books etc.”

I explained this was all very deliberate, that they were awaiting decontamination. The difficulty was that she’d put the ballot in a plastic bag – which can hold the virus for nine days – so was the paper ballot still free after 24 hours or did I have to get it out of the plastic bag first?

These are the Big Questions of life right now.

I’m the same person who doesn’t understand the people who seem to be disinfecting their house A LOT. Tim and I are the only ones here, we rarely go out, but we wash our hands as soon as we enter the house; so why would we have to sanitize our surfaces every day? We’re the only ones touching our doorknobs.

But this just means we’re all going a little bit nuts in our very own personal ways. For me, it’s mail, books, and jigsaw puzzles. For you, it may be doorknobs.

Or laundry. Or someone petting your dog. Or faucets. Or groceries.

Uh, oh – groceries – that’s another one of mine. Lots of ways to go a little bit nuts here.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. We just learned of some people who take off their shoes upon entering their houses, and take off their outer clothing and immediately put that in the laundry. We always come in throught the garage and take off our shoes before we enter the house. "Good," I thought. Then I thought about all the times we go into the garage with our house shoes on. (We have an extra fridge out there and we have to go through the garage to get to the basement and pantry.) So now we each have a pair of Crocs by the door into the garage, so we can change into those if we need to walk around out there.

    We have been leaving our mail in the garage for 24 hours. We are trying to limit our mail by going to online . We only get the newspaper online now.

    Groceries come into the garage and are disinfected or washed off. We basically follow the method demonstrated by Dr. Jeff in that viral YouTube.

    And don't get me started on masks . . .


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