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Diary of a quarantined sociologist - day 14
By Sarah Burrage
Posted: 2020-09-22T20:58:00Z

So. This is it. The great finale. The great finish. The end. Looking back at this time, I cannot believe how quickly it went. I have begun to pack up my things, to take down the features of this room that made it home, and to sort through the mass of snacks and beverages I have accumulated over the past 14 days. I have been given a time for departure- 8am. I need to have my bags put outside my room 30 minutes before so that they can be brought down and my ride arranged for 8:05 to ensure a speedy departure within the allocated 15 minutes. I will be given an envelope with my negative tests results, a pat on the back (metaphorically of course , because, you know, physical distancing) and off I will go. Not romantically riding off into the sunset on horseback like some country western, but rather into the Adelaide Central Business District in my trusty Toyota. Back into the great wide world beyond... I’m not going to lie, but when thinking about what I would write about today I actually googled ‘ending ideas’ for inspiration, and found some of these suggestions to ‘crafting the perfect ending’: 1) Find your ending in the beginning, 2) completion goes hand-in-hand with hope, 3) keep things fresh, 4) make sure it's really finished, 5) last impressions matter, 6) come full circle, and 7) leave some things unsaid. Well. These are some solid suggestions if I must say so. So. In an attempt to follow the sound advice of, I decided to give some of these ideas a go. 

Exactly 14 days ago I arrived at the Adelaide airport and experienced a Monsters inc. like welcome with hazmat suits, gloves and flashing police lights (reference to #1). Thinking back to these dystopian style films, I am filled with these momentary visions of myself getting half-way out to the car when one of the hotel staff gets a call from the Prime Minister demanding that they halt my exit with yells to ‘get her back!’ A flurry of activity ensues. Staff and police sprint after me, I run and do this epic slide across the front of my car and jump into the front seat with a ‘go go go’ to my getaway driver (a.k.a my partner and dog Jimmy in the back), while we tear off (well as much as you can tear off in a Yaris) away from the hotel. The ending then no longer becomes an ending, but rather the new beginning of my fleeing from SAPOL in an epic car chase down through the streets of Adelaide and then forever living on the run. I mean, this kind of ending will certainly keep things fresh (#3), but I am also not sure how much it would work for making sure it's really finished (#4). Coming full circle (#6), however, I am forced to reflect on the organisation of this process and the sheer number of people that were involved in making it go smoothly (also cue #2). Despite all the masks, the gloves, the gowns and the protocol, I have always been treated with great positivity and generosity by all the staff and nurses involved in my quarantine. So. Today,  I would like to end these posts with the suggestion brought by #2. I would like to end with a thank you and with hope.  

From the friendly police officers who check on me every-day with a classic ‘g-day’ and ‘how ya goin?’, to the public health nurses who remember your name and always have time for a quick chat, I have only seen the best of people. Even when I was having my brain tickled by cue tips, I had opportunities to joke and laugh with the nurses who day in and day out have dozens upon dozens of swabs to undertake. Beyond the nursing staff made available to me every-day, I had the support of mental health agencies who frequently rang to see how I was getting on and if they could help. I had one particularly long and lovely chat with my mate ‘Mario’ all about my life, in which I definitely did not follow the rule for #7 in leaving some things unsaid. From day 1, the hotel staff have been amazing and helpful, not hesitating to send up broom pans when I broke a glass (whoops), bags of ice when I hurt my back (whoops again), and extra chairs for my balcony. And, don’t even get me started on the food. Cooking for a mass number of people with a diversity of nutritional needs is no easy task. Having organised catering for large events in the past I can attest to the fact that you can never please everyone when it comes to food. Overall, however, the hotel's batting average when it comes to food has been Sir. Donald Bradman worthy. There was an incident of pancakes being provided without maple syrup that insulted the Canadian sensibilities in me; perhaps the only thing that scarred me during my time in isolation. But this is such a minor pretentious problem that it isn’t worth mentioning (well again). 

When it comes to acknowledging the hard work of the people who are providing this service and organising all the protocols surrounding the quarantine process, I don’t know if I can really leave things unsaid (honestly, I’m not very good at following #7 at the best of times). Thinking about my experience and all the people involved definitely instills a sense of hope for the future and how we will get on. We are extremely lucky to live in a country that, quite frankly, gives a damn about how we are doing. Funding for the loss of jobs has been provided, public health protocols installed, and a variety of other initiatives in order to deal with the impact of the pandemic. While this time has not come without its issues and messiness, the sheer fact that so many people care enough to keep others safe is quite frankly amazing. Should we continue to have such brilliant people around, and such support given to our communities, then I think we are going to be just fine.  That’s my spout of hope.

I win.