Friday, November 06, 2020

COVID Diaries Chapter Three

Maintaining my sense of humor in July after a public restroom fail.


It's hard to believe we're almost in month six of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Mixed messages from public health and elected officials have generated a tremendous push/pull over the seriousness of the virus versus the need to get back to "normal". The recommended best practices of wearing masks and social distancing have become angry debates.  According to medical researchers, COVID-19 can have serious long term effects.  Because I'm 70, with underlying health issues, I am very cautious.  I prioritize avoiding exposure to this virus and lowering my risk of infection, despite the isolation, inconvenience and frustration. I find it interesting and sometimes surprising to observe how friends and acquaintances are responding.

            One of my gal pals is proud grandmother to a four-year-old girl in the Bay Area.  She's made the trip up north many times to help her son with a joint custody arrangement that came up not long after the child was born.  Kay feels this may be the only grandchild she'll ever have and she's made many personal sacrifices, without complaints.  Prior to the pandemic, Kay worked part time as an art instructor in a local after school program and she's involved in a local art gallery.  Previously, she would take the train to downtown and then transfer to a bus to catch her flight at the airport.  Pretty awesome for a busy woman in her mid-70's!  The pandemic changed her willingness to use public transportation, but not her motivation to support her son and granddaughter. 

            I had posted something on Facebook describing my horror at using a less-than-sanitary public restroom at a local tire store. I was happier before I read about "flush plumes" but this is our new normal.  Kay sent me a message describing the public restroom protocol that she devised on her recent road trip to the Bay Area.  For you cautious people, like me, this is Kay's Pit Stop Kit:

1.       Prepare a separate purse or tote bag for your visit to a public restroom containing:

a.       Disposable gloves

b.      Bottle of spray disinfectant

c.       Toilet paper torn into segments about 10" long

d.      Paper towels, separated

e.       Disinfectant wipes

f.       Toilet seat covers

g.      Cosmetic bag for keys, glasses, phone or other necessities, leaving regular purse in the car.

2.      Mask up, and then:

a.       Gloves on

b.      Keys, etc. in cosmetic bag in tote or in your pocket

c.       Go into restroom and select the largest stall or the stall furthest away from anyone already in there.

d.      Place the paper towels from the tote bag on the floor, and put the tote on the paper towels if there is no hook.

e.       Use the toilet paper from the tote bag as toilet seat covers if none are provided.

f.       Before flushing, stand back as far as possible

g.      Pick up the paper towels from the floor of the stall and deposit in trash can in the restroom, along with the used gloves you've been wearing.

h.      Wash your hands in the sink, if soap and water are available.

i.        If not, use a clean piece of paper towel and disinfectant spray to clean your hands. 

j.        Wipe the tote bag, including its handle.

k.      With clean hands, get out your car keys and any other essentials from the cosmetic bag.

l.        Have a Ziploc bag in the car to dispose of any paper towel or other contaminated rubbish that you couldn't dispose of in the restroom.

            Although I limit my outings to essentials and intentionally restrict my fluids when I go out, public restrooms are a fact of life and risky.  I now have a tote bag like this in my car.  Necessity was the grandmother of invention of Kay's Pit Stop Kit.

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