My paranoia is at an all time high. This morning I went to take my Vespa out for a ride to charge the battery, so it won’t die on me, and I was alone on the elevator when it stopped on the third floor. Right before the doors opened I heard someone on the other side of the door let out a lough wet cough. I immediately panicked on what to do when the doors opened. Do I risk running out of the elevator and possibly be exposed to droplets in the air, or stay on the elevator and try and stand facing the wall as far away as possible – which would still not be 6 feet apart.

When the elevator opened there stood an elderly man with a cane wearing an old mask. I decided to make a run for it, and darted out of the elevator praying that given the circumstances that would be the better option. I even briefly closed my eyes in the event that should there be droplets in the air they wouldn’t pass through my eyelids. I pretty much could have run straight into a wall but I was in flight mode.

Yes, he was wearing a mask, but masks don’t guarantee that you will not be exposed, it just lowers the chances. I continued to take the stairs to the basement to take out my bike and on my way back I was driving through the alley and saw that same man walking along and thought is this person homeless? Does he even live in my building? I live in Downtown LA and this particular alley always has chronic homeless people, drug dealers, and feces smeared on the pavement, but it’s the only way to get access to the garage. I never see residents walking in the alley for it is not the safest place, and not somewhere you would want to hang around.

When I got home, I washed my face and my hands and even sprayed my face with antibacterial and antivirus cleaner up my nose and around my eyes like a lunatic. I opened up my computer and start Googling information on symptoms, masks, droplets, and discovered there are different types of Coronavirus coughs. There are dry ones and phlegm ones, and I really start to panic. Then I read that if you wear a mask and cough the droplets can travel inches away versus if you don’t wear a mask then they can travel up to 12 feet. Now I’m thinking did I walk right through the cough droplets in my desperate attempt to flee the scene? Or would they travel in the air if I chose to stay in the elevator? Neither options were optimistic, and now I think my decision to run was maybe not the best one. I don’t know.

What I do know is I have done everything to avoid being exposed. I follow all the rules. It’s not my fault that I was presented with this dilemma and really nothing I can do about it, so stressing over it is only going to make matters worse. But that doesn’t change the fact that I find myself beating myself up for even taking the elevator to begin with. I’ve been on the elevator before with people that walk on without a mask and just hold my breath, but running into a cough – literally – is a whole other level.

From now on, I’ll take the stairs. I. might even start wearing goggles along with a fresh mask. I’ve learned my lesson, and according to my copious Google searches, I now have 5-6 days to see if I was infected.


Photo by aarontait