I’m doing my part -- stay home

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Benjamin N. Valmoja
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Another swipe down your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feed and you’re guaranteed  to see another post about COVID-19 -- and that’s not even counting the eerily specific ad from Amazon or Wish.

It’s clear that mankind is currently facing a pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 has infected more than 1 million people globally. Nearly every single country on earth is affected.

Well, what can you do? What can the person next to you do? If you aren’t a doctor treating afflicted people, or a scientist searching for a vaccine, what can you actually do?

As a public affairs Airman in the U.S. Air Force, what can I do? I can talk about it. I can make informational products that could serve my community. Perhaps, if I do especially well on one, it could be shared, and my work will span the widest reaches of the internet.

I’ve seen that last part doesn’t happen much.

But more importantly than what I can do in my profession, what can I do as a person?

Well, on Wednesday March 17, I was put on a 14-day quarantine, and it wasn’t something  I asked for. My wife was notified she would be put in self-quarantine because she interacted with someone who travelled from outside the local area. Her potential exposure meant my potential exposure, so I got put on the bench.

Raise your hand if you got quarantined too -- and if you did, I bet you’d say the same thing I’m saying: it was flat out boring. Just an uneventful, monotonous blur of two weeks that felt like forever.

People suggested I  “learn to cook a new dish,” or “clean the house,” or “take on that project you wanted to,” to help pass the quarantine easier. And I did. But what was I supposed to do with the 12 remaining days?

The problems I faced in isolation were the things  I wished for during normal life: I didn’t have to wake up for work in the morning, I could stay up late binge watching YouTube videos, I could have pop tarts for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was like summer vacation back in 2009.

Then why did quarantine suck so badly? I mean I had my wife’s company, our dog to keep us entertained, we had facetime to keep us connected with the outside world,and the internet kept me supplied with fire memes. But on the other hand, I couldn’t even go to the grocery store to buy dinner for the night. No fast food. No Friday night drinks with the boys. No freedom.

In hindsight, the quarantine wasn’t entirely about me, and I lost sight of that. It was about helping my community. And had I realized that at the time, it would have made my time indoors a little easier.

By keeping myself home I was able to do my part in slowing this virus down. Even if I never had the virus to begin with, I gave it one less opportunity to spread.

I’ve been off quarantine for about a week now, and I must say my new perspective still keeps me home to the best of my abilities. I’m still eating my pop tarts and missing the drinks with the boys, but at least I can buy my own toilet paper now.

The doctors and scientists we talked about earlier say precautionary measures help. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization agree.

If we truly care about our family members, our neighbors, our community, why wouldn’t we want to help?