I stood in a meandering line of bank customers, reading a stream of coronavirus articles.
Each article leads to a little more paranoia—the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of countries with infected carriers of this novel virus. The global map made corona look like a pandemic.
I lifted my eyes from my iPhone to see a lethargic, unkempt, middle-aged male creep into the bank. He got into the line—right behind me. His disheveled clothes looked as if he had slept in them for a week. His face glowed a feverish red. He smelt of sickness.
Unconsciously, I held my breath and inched away.
Questions multiplied in my brain as rapidly as if they were an infectious virus:
Should I get out of this line?
Should I run out of this bank?”
Should I say a prayer to the ultimate authority?
Have the rabbis written a Hebrew prayer to protect Jews from coronavirus?
Would such a prayer actually work?
Is there a website called Hebrewprayers.com?
What does a 14 day home quarantine feel like?
Why am I not wearing a facemask?
Why isn’t this sickie wearing a mask?
Before I moved another inch, I jumped as the sickie’s ringtone blasted the Chuck Berry’s classic, “Roll over Beethoven.”
“You know my temperature is risin…
I got the rockin pneumonia.
I need a shot of rhythm and blues.”
What did I just read on CDC website? The coronavirus symptoms are: Fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
As Beethoven ringtone died, he coughed and then sneezed into the open air. I felt respiratory droplets cling the hairs on the back of my neck. Beethoven had contaminated everyone standing in line.
Pissed I thought, “He never even thought about covering his mouth.”
I stared him squarely in his red eyes and bellowed,
“It’s early in the mornin…
I’m a givin you the warnin,
don’t you ever sneeze on my neck.
Move over Beethoven, I ain’t getting no shot of corona from you!”
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so sick. I can’t even think straight.”
Social distancing myself from Beethoven I inquired, “When was the last time you visited China, Japan or South Korea?”
He whispered, “A few weeks ago I was in China.”
I gasped, “When?”
“A few weeks ago.”
“Have you seen a doctor?”
“Not yet. I’m going later today. I wanted to get some cash so I could pay the doc.”
I jumped out of queue, walking straight for the door.
At the door I yelled, “Beethoven, tell your doctor to test you for the coronavirus, start sneezing into the sleeve of your shirt and wear a mask!
In my car, I turned on the AC, exhaled, squirted some antibacterial into my palms. As I scrubbed my neck, I promised myself, “Next time I go to bank, I’m using the drive-thru.”