Tales from the crypt

It’s now day 5 of my mandatory quarantine in one of Israel’s Coronavirus hotels. We arrived from the states last Saturday. The next day they started giving the option to home quarantine if you agree to wear a tracking bracelet. We missed out by one day.

Our hotel is full of people like us. None of us are carrying the virus. All of us tested negative both before our flights and then again upon landing. Those who test positive are taken somewhere else. I think it is somewhere inside Syria.

There was a huge demonstration in the lobby of the hotel demanding the right to home quarantine with the bracelet. The police came, fined everyone 5000 shekels, and sent them back to their rooms. My wife and I didn’t participate. Our neighbor advised us to stay in our room. He was right. He is also staying with his wife. He was in an elite unit of the Israeli intelligence and now travels back and forth from the states developing some new start-up company. My wife told me to listen to this guy. I listen to my wife.

Why are we here if we don’t have the virus? Half the population of Israel is already vaccinated and feels protected or they don’t believe in COVID at all. But there is still a large portion of people who are terrified that we are bringing a vaccine-resistant super mutation of the virus with us. They believe this because our Health Ministry is telling everyone that we might be bringing a vaccine-resistant super mutation of the virus with us. There is no evidence that such a mutation exists. But you can never be too certain. Especially if it means that only someone else has to suffer.

My wife and I are trying to make the best of it. It’s not as bad as we read about in the paper. The rooms were clean when we arrived, they bring us food and water three times a day, and if we don’t like the food, we can always order in. We even got permission to leave our room once a day to jump rope in an empty part of the hotel. The internet is good. I work from home anyway so the only thing I really miss is going outside. Oh, and seeing our children. They are grown and don’t live at home so it’s not that horrible. They tell us that they miss us but I have my doubts. We typically only see them on Shabbat or if they need money. My wife has a great sense of humor and keeps me smiling. I thank God that I have her to keep me company. I told her that if I ever get sent to jail, I am definitely bringing her with me.

Other people have it much worse. I wanted to share a few stories. Only the names have been changed.

Avi returned from his job in the states to see his wife and kids. But his wife doesn’t want him because when he was in the states, he decided to have an affair. I know all the details of his personal life because he keeps his window open and yells at his wife for hours a day on his cell phone. He swears that he loves her more than anything. He shows her his love by yelling at her to shut up and listen to him when he says that she means everything to him. I don’t understand why she doesn’t believe him.

Sara is a grandmother with three young grandchildren. She took them to the states before they closed the airport so that they could visit their extended family. She thought she would have her grandchildren for two weeks. It has now been two months. The three grandchildren are locked in one room. They can’t see their parents. I am certain these three grandchildren used to be adorable. But this adventure is turning them into something else. Sara is about to break down.

There are a lot of families here with young children. They are not managing. The guy across the hall from me is managing. Like me, he does most of his work remotely. He went to the USA for work and got stuck when they closed the airport. His wife is here in Israel. He would like to see her. Unlike Avi’s wife, she would like to see him too.

This whole experience is probably making me a better person. They say what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I have learned to appreciate little things in life, like fresh air. I feel really bad for the people with young children. I don’t believe that this experience is doing them any good.

It makes me sad. The government is spending a lot of money to do some real harm to many of its citizens. But when I get sad, my wife finds a way to cheer me up. And I only have 5 more days to go.

About the Author
David Brent is a NASA engineer with a master's and bachelor's from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology turned candy entrepreneur. He made aliya in the spring of 2013. David commutes between Israel, where his heart is, and Florida, where his business is.
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