21 days is a lot of time on your handsAll of this talk about Ebola and quarantine has set me to thinking. Suppose you were faced with an obligatory quarantine of twenty-one days. Presuming you were disease-free, how would this work for you? Are you one of those “people . . . people who need people,” or would you find twenty-one days without direct human contact to be a blessing? Would you go stir crazy after a week; or, is this your idea of heaven on earth?
Having posed this scenario, I suppose it’s only fair that I reflect upon it here. First, if it hasn’t already been made clear, I most definitely WOULD NOT want to be away from Marla for twenty-one hours, let alone days. However, if faced with this situation, I fear my single addiction in this life would be difficult to overcome. “Hello, my name is Mark Okrant, and I am an email addict.” I can’t stop checking my messages. I do it on the hour . . . and that’s during my controlled moments. I’m more likely to check every ten minutes. Faced with twenty-one days of isolation, it’s obvious I couldn’t survive without a reliable iPhone or computer. While I avoid talking on the telephone to the greatest degree possible, email is another story. Many times, I have handed my business card to a new contact and warned the recipient not to bother dialing my number, as I won’t answer. By emailing, on the other hand, the person is virtually guaranteed to receive a response . . . or two . . . or twenty.
What would a person do with all of that other time? After all, we’re talking about 21 days. That’s 504 hours, or 30,240 minutes. I can tell you exactly what I would and wouldn’t do–that is, when I wasn’t using email. I would not turn on the television, except to watch an occasional golf match (jealous?). I suppose I’d spend a good deal of time reading. I’d work on writing a new book. I’d practice my putting. And, of course, I’d practice my Spanish. The latter is something I’ve been working on. Do you remember back when no bad decision ever stuck to Ronald Reagan? Well, that’s my relationship with Spanish. Oh yes, one other thing I would do: I’d bounce a soft rubber ball off of the walls and ceiling to see how many times in a row I could catch it before literally dropping the ball.
So, I do understand why those medical personnel who, having assessed themselves to be in good health, do not want to be subjected to a quarantine. I wouldn’t either. The only thing that sounds worse would be forced to endure those twenty-one days in the company of Chris Christie.
How about you? Could you stand your own company for that long a period? How would you kill the time?