Sorry; I’m Argentinian

Day of quarantine: #2. On starting to deal with the coronavirus quarantine; how people are reacting and what did I miss…

By Laly Steel

March 21, 2020

Full disclosure: where I wrote in yesterday’s post “as of today at 00 hs”, initially I had written “starting on Friday at 00hs.” Since I began working at 3.20 am, that line probably arrived to my file at 4.43 am; which means: I hadn’t taken the Ritalin yet, the coffee was barely tickling me and I was a little bit restless about the news I had read from Thursday night.

Eager to – as I wrote – “write something; whatever; write it and post it; do your thing; work on that blog,” I thought, “Ok; shit is getting real but I still have all day; I’ll finish the copy, grab the car to do the groceries, and then I’ll review it and publish it in the afternoon.”

Are you following?

Seriously; are you noticing what I was about to do?

At 8 am I took my car, drove two blocks and a half to get to the main street, and there was … no one; not even a soul; a bus was coming from five blocks away and that was it. The emptiness of the streets wasn’t like the one you see on a holiday weekend; it looked like a ghost town… There were no teenagers playing with their skateboards – enjoying the cool morning of the end of the summer – , no old ladies walking with their carry-ons to get milk and flower… No one… It was heartbreaking… 

I continued for fifteen blocks to get to the supermarket of this neighborhood; I entered the car to the parking lot, parked it and got off; I walked towards the door that’s inside the parking a lot and a man stopped me:

“Where are you going?”

“To the market (duh)”

“You must go to the line,” he said.

“Sorry; What?”

“You must go to the line?”

“What line?”

“Outside. You need wait in line outside to enter the market using the front door.”

How odd, right? We still had a whole day to prepare. I got out of the parking lot and I saw a line of people, standing approximately at three feet – one meter – away from each other, and I thought, “Ugh; people don’t respect anything! We were told to stay six feet away.”

I kept walking following the line, I took a turn at the corner of the block and I saw the line extending all the way to the other corner. My dopamine started to whisper, “We ain’t gonna like this, Laly; you didn’t bring the air pods.” I was able to wait for probably ten minutes, and when I heard people have been already waiting for an hour, the results came up: ADHD 1 – Laly 0.

So I left,  and on my way back home I stopped at my parents’; we said hello waiving from six feet away, sat down at the dining table where they were drinking their morning “mate” and I started to cry telling them what I have seen: the empty streets; the silence… once again deafening; the “social distancing.” And I told them, “People are not going to react well, and this hasn’t even started;” and my mother said,

“Laura, it started today”

“Huh? It begins on Friday at 00 hs”

“Laura, it’s Friday…”

“I know it’s Friday!”

“Laura…”

… “Oh….”

Now I was freaking out thinking I was going to end up in jail and my car was going to be impounded; and I still needed to do the groceries. I came back home and I got to thinking, “What do I do, what do I do? I’m just gonna go for it! Let’s see what happens. Lord help me.”

At 9 am I drove one more time those two blocks and a half to get to the main street, but this time there was a line of cars and another one of motorcycles, one of each responding to a Federal Police Officer questions. The officers were dressed up all in black, wearing masks and holding war weapons; I’d say an AK-43 but my Play Station broke and I’ve lost some of my knowledge. Bottom line is: he was holding a big fat weapon.

I rolled down the window (yes; I have an old car) and he said,

“Good morning Madam, where are you going?”

“Good morning; I’m going to the market and to see my parents; it’s like ten blocks away”

“Madam, do you know we are in Quarantine and blah blah…”

“Yes”

“Madam, do you know all the measures you need to take to blah blah…”

“Yes, officer”

And then he looked inside my car and opened his eyes, as if he were surprised; he came close to the car and started looking through the windows, and I thought, “Cagamos.” (“Shit”, basically)

“Madam, where are you going?,” he emphasized

“Ten blocks away; to the market…”

“Ok; carry on; stay safe.”

What happened? And why were the officers letting people go?

This quarantine was announced on Thursday night, to prevent people from traveling to other cities because there is a holiday weekend ahead; so, when the officer saw my backpack on the front seat he probably thought I was leaving the city; and since they announced this lockdown without giving us enough time to prepare, they’re being flexible… I guess…

However, here is what I think: when I left my home for the second time, the scene was quite different: we were already breaking the law. “Argentina, país generoso” (Argentina, generous country) we say when we see things like this, meaning some things can only happen here.

You know how and ADHDer can say, “Sorry; I wasn’t paying attention; I have ADHD; what was that again?” Well, an Argentinian says, “Sorry; I wasn’t paying attention; I have an ego and it says NO.”

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