I'm enough of a data junkie that I obsess a little about Covid numbers; there have more new cases nationally today than any other day yet, deaths spiking up again, it's all enough to make you want to stay at home. But it's kind of hard to do that.
A friend of a friend has been doing some projects around her house. As part of my survival economy I'm doing minor construction, and I figured, okay, it's a low retaining wall, outside work, and I don't have to interact with anyone other than to pick up the lumber. It's even legal because construction is deemed essential. So... No worries.
City Lumber was busy. It seems a lot of people are doing home projects while stuck. Still, everyone was practicing fairly decent social distancing, they have the sneeze guards up, and I know I kept 8 feet from the guy loading my trailer because I know the length of the wood, so, minor risk, but so far so good.
Working in the back yard of the friend of a friend should have been fine with no one around but me and it was fine. Until I struck a water line.
Now, before I get back to my Covid story, I need to defend the fact that there was no way to know the water line was there. It was pex tubing, so even if I had it located, it wouldn't locate (and no, there wasn't a tracer wire on it), and a line of sight from the water meter to the neighbor's house (yes, it was the neighbor) meant there was just no way the line should end up under my rebar. Except it was, and I hit it.
So my little, "I'll just work in your back yard alone" project suddenly needed the City to come out and turn off the water. Then I had to run to City Lumber to get parts to fix it, except they didn't have the right parts, which meant I had to go down to Warrenton to Home Depot.
Home Depot is trying to help with social distancing, but the customers weren't very good at it. I mean, think of any time you've gone to Home Depot and stared at a wall of parts and tried to find something. Meanwhile other people are staring at walls and needing to get by. Overall I think it was okay, but that six-foot bubble wasn't always six feet. Six feet is a lot further away then most people think.
I got the parts, but plumbing isn't my main gig so it still didn't work, which meant now the plumber. Oh and a neighbor or two. Again, that 6 feet was pretty much enforced, but my little backyard project alone mushroomed into way connecting with too many people.
We still don't know how virulent this thing is although we know it's pretty aggressive. We still don't know how widespread it is because our testing numbers are still abysmal (Oregon is at about 1% of the population tested at this point) so there is no way to know if I came into contact with someone who is infected. Or if I, myself might be infected.
I like to think I'm one of the careful ones. I really believe the stay-at-home has helped keep this thing manageable and yet... it is almost impossible to sit at home and do nothing.
The problem with doing projects in a time of social distancing, even distant projects, is when something goes wrong. It could have been an emergency room visit, it could have been something that might have taken longer and even more people. Because I tapped a bit of rebar into a water line, the water works guy and the plumber had to come out and I had to come in contact with a dozen people or so I otherwise wouldn't have seen.
We still can't predict the virus, and we definitely can't predict what's going to happen when doing home projects.
Stay home, stay safe.