It all started innocently enough.
As I’ve been working remotely for a few years, I felt I hadn’t been taking much advantage of it. So when my mom invited me to Cancun with my daughter who’s in preschool, I figured “why not?” As long as my team had everything they needed and were clear on priorities, I could go. Moreover, I could just work from abroad. The only real difference was my time-zone availability. Beyond that, nothing changed for them.
For me, it just meant getting up for 6 am meetings. But being much closer to the equator helped rationalize this. Particularly since I already had a team member in Columbia, even closer to the equator with 6 am sunrise, 6 pm sunset.
While there were a few news reports about Corona virus in Wuhan province in China, there didn’t seem to be much to be concerned about. My wife bought a box of face masks for our flight just in case. My daughter was excited about the face masks, at least initially. Kind of like Halloween.
You can probably guess where this is going.
At the airport, when we were walking around with our face masks, people gave us somewhat awkward looks. Although we weren’t the only ones, we were one of a handful of people with masks. Both in Warsaw and later in Zurich.
When we got to Cancun, the world went #CovidCrazy. Suddenly, borders started closing, starting with the Polish one (for everyone except citizens) but we still had to get there in order to cross the border. We almost boarded our return flight but decided not to, as there would be two changeovers and a bus ride across the German-Polish border, with hours of backlog. Not ideal for travelling with a lot of luggage and a preschooler.
Then to get back to Poland, all of the connecting flights became impractical, because those countries shut down their borders. Even though we’d only be changing flights, we’d have to cross the border at the airport to pick up and drop off our luggage while changing airlines.
Finally, it looks like the Polish government looks like it may organize direct flights via the national carrier back to Warsaw. But still waiting on confirmation for this. Without it, we’ll be in Mexico until the international lock down resolves itself. Or more accurately, in self-quarantine so that we can travel at a moment’s notice.
We live in volatile times. It’s funny how I recently penned a few posts about proactivity, while remaining flexible and not locking into a rigid plan, as the optimal strategy. Clearly this is a mindset which helps now.
Like a number of friends with split up families with dependents around the globe, both kids and seniors, the realities of the advice that comes out of mathematical models are a bit more complicated than it would have been for me as a single or even childless young couple. Kids can spread the disease but not have much symptoms. Grandparents face the risk of death due to lack of absolute numbers of ventilators. All that said, I am happy that I am quarantined among family and able to take care of them and myself. I’m hopeful that this situation will play itself out eventually.
There must eventually be some kind of way to restart flights using some type of nearly automated pre-certification of health/lack of Covid-19. The Chinese have some kind of device that measure body temperature from a few meters away. We just need to start thinking through what we can change in order to continue containing the virus, while giving people some ability to remain mobile.
Also, there have been a number of efforts among makers to come up with technical solutions to the expected shortfall of ventilator masks, like that of my friend Sal: https://diyventilators.com/. If you are interesting in helping out, join the chat at that site and say hi.