That’s how long I was sitting in line to get tested for Covid-19 this past Saturday. 229 minutes. For those of you who don’t feel like doing the calculation, or if you’re like me and are not good at third grade math or just don’t have the ability to run numbers in your head as quickly as Sir Isaac Newton, that computes to three hours and forty-nine minutes.
Nearly four hours to receive a covid test. It takes less time to run the Boston marathon. Or to take a round trip flight to Wisconsin from New York. But don’t take a trip because we are in a pandemic. You probably shouldn’t do any marathons either. This pandemic is a killjoy.
Long story short, I wanted to be tested because Friday night I felt like I was coming down with a cold and woke up Saturday morning congested and headachy and exhausted. The kind of exhaustion that renders you incapable of doing anything outside of rolling over.
I also had a dream that a friend’s cat was talking to me.
I know many people who came down with the dreaded ‘rona and it started out the exact same way…cold-like symptoms and weird dreams.
Unfortunately, there was not one single appointment at a local walk-in clinic or pharmacy inside of 72 hours and my PCP doesn’t have weekend hours. My only option was one of those places you see on the news where the cars snake around for what seems like miles.
Every time I see this madness on the evening news I am astounded. It always reminds me of one of those apocalyptic movies where people are trying to get out of dodge en masse. I swore that would never be me. But there I was. Stuck in a line of cars, but without an apocalypse or zombie to be had.
What does one do for four hours while deliberately waiting for someone to shove a ten-inch Q-tip up your nostrils?
In my case, I spent an hour talking on the phone with my parents, did a little Facebook scrolling, texted some friends complaining about the injustice of it all, and enjoyed a little people watching.
In 229 minutes I saw a car overheat and get towed away, I saw a man walk up the long line of cars with a red gas can. Not sure if he was selling gas or if he just simply ran out. But darn. That’s not a bad side gig.
I myself only had a quarter of a tank of gas leftover from when I filled my car in September, so it could happen. There are stranger things. I mean, I was willingly waiting in line for 229 minutes to have my brain tickled. Saturdays sure aren’t what they used to be.
Where was I? Oh yeah, people watching.
I watched the teenager in the car in front of me get out of the vehicle, walk down the hill, and come back with food an hour later.
I saw a man get food delivered to his car. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of that. I was so hungry by the end of this, I was close to exiting my vehicle and start grazing on the fir tree to my right.
I did panic a bit when I realized that if I had to go to the bathroom, I wouldn’t be able to. Turns out there was a bathroom at the three hour mark, but it also turns out there was a note on the door. Not sure what it said because I couldn’t see from my vantage point, but my guess is it wasn’t, “Welcome all who could potentially be infected with the Covid-19 virus, please come on in and sit a spell so you can continue to spread your germs all over the universe.”
After three hours, one of the nice volunteers came up to my car to scan my online registration, thanked me profusely for doing so, and stuck a Post-It note on my windshield with my test number. She told me I was almost there with “only” about another hour to go.
When I got close enough to see the front of the line, I started timing how long it took for one vehicle to get through the actual testing area — anywhere from a minute and a half to two minutes. When I pulled up, I was done in well under a minute.
In other words, register online for these things if you can, people. It will save a lot of time for everyone.
The lady who administers the test and looks as if she is going to do a mold remediation on you instead of a simple nose swab, greeted me with what I could gather was a smile on her face even though she was working her butt off in the wind and cold all alone to test 400 people. I appreciate her.
But I wouldn’t blame her one bit if she lost her mind and ended up shoving that Q-tip all the way to the temporal lobe and killed us all. Wow. That took a turn. I’ve been watching too much Netflix. Maybe Disney Channel would be a better choice.
The Verdict: The specimen that was collected from the deep recesses of my face on the end of that ten inch Q-tip has determined I am Covid-19 negative. Should have done the cover test (see meme above).