Although the US government does not require to quarantine after coming back from Europe, so technically speaking, I didn’t need to get tested, I still wanted to get tested before seeing my girls. I spent some before departure researching the situation with rapid testing in Illinois. It turned out that I can’t get a rapid test “just because I need it for my personal reasons.” It was either 48 hours wait or a rapid test for a fee. Forty-eight hours didn’t work for me because the samples collected on Thursday were going to go to the lab only at the end of the day, and the result would be back by the EOD Saturday. I didn’t have symptoms, so I could not get a free rapid test, and the one-hundred dollars rapid test was the only option.
I found (or rather Vlad found) one provider in the city who is doing rapid tests on-demand and with whom I could book online. They have multiple locations, and it looked like both Chicago locations are doing rapid testing. I booked an appointment at the Streeterville location because it looked easier to reach. I could even walk there from the train station, although it was a long walk, and still have time to get to the office not to disrupt my first working day upon return.
And that’s what I did: took a very early train to the city, walked to the clinic, checked in… they took my sample and said: ok, that’s it. And I: ???? they – the results will be in two to three days… I: What about the rapid test?! They: we do not do rapid tests at this location; we do not have equipment yet. You need to go to the South Loop. I: Why did your web site allow me to register for a rapid test here?! They said they would notify the other office, and I called Uber. The other office was on the opposite side of the city, and even though there is no real rush hour these days, eight AM is not the best travel time; Uber’s rates were doubled.
When I finally arrived at the South Loop office and check-in, they told me: our internet is down! Fortunately, after a while, they connected using somebody’s hotspot and processed my information and my payment. And they even allowed me to wait for the results, although at first, they said I couldn’t wait there. I had to take Uber to the office and was only a little bit late for my first morning meeting.
So it all ended up fine after all, but it was quite an expensive and stressful test.
The weather forecast for these days in Helsinki was mediocre, but the reality appeared much better. So far, the only rain occurred last night, and it was over by 10 AM. I will need to work remotely on Monday and Tuesday, so I tried to be outside during the weekend as much as possible. Boris still is not allowed to bike after the surgery, so we walk a lot. Actually, I went for a bike ride yesterday: he forces me out :), but that was a very short one, and with relatively low speed: I was afraid to get lost – I never biked in Helsinki alone.
Back to walking. It was always better in Helsinki than back home, plus I wore boots for the first time this season, and I walk better in boots. But still: yesterday, I walked for 2 hours 40 min straight with no stops! I think it was the first time in four yeast that I could walk that long with no hint of pain. In April 2017, when Vlad and I were in London, we walked a lot, but I already started to feel pain back then. Today, I walked for 1.5 hours in the morning and then again for two hours in the afternoon. Just one word: happiness.
As I mentioned yesterday, a free COVID test is offered at the airport, it is voluntary, but I gladly went. They assigned me a temporal Finnish social security number to enter me into their system.
The total time to register for the test, wait, and have the test administered was about 40 minutes. They asked travelers to avoid public transport (sigh) and take a taxi, which I obliged.
I was ready to be quarantined for my whole stay, but they texted me a negative result in the middle of the night, only 10 hours after the sample was taken. Which, in addition to today’s research results, delivers positive news.
… Just remember how president Trump says he does not want our country to become socialist?! Yea, no chance, but… we can’t have THAT!
And BTW, do you know why Finland it rolling out this system? Because their economy is really dependent on holiday tourism and they want/need the tourist traffic. At the same time they care about their citizen and want ot be sure they are safe.
That time around, everything was different than back in July. First, Lufthansa allowed me to get a boarding pass online. Second, there was virtually no line to the LH counter in the airport. Third, the Terminal ! was packed with people!
also, now they do not allow masks with filters on board. I knew that it might be a case, so I bought a pack of KN95, and used four of them on the flights.
The documentation is still required, but this time, they didn’t consult the supervisor, but just marked me in. It’s so funny: we married for the only reason to make sure Boris can visit us here, no matter what. And the only time I really needed to use this document was for my entrance to Finland 🙂
Another new thing: even thought my passport was stamped in Frankfurt, they sent me to the border control again in Helsinki. So I had to show papers for the third time, and then they gave me instructions to quarantine, and I also went to take a COVID test (total extra time – about 40 minutes, free of charge).
Yesterday, I went to the haircut, and while there, we talked with my hairdresser about me going to the office, about mask-wearing, and all this nowadays small talk 🙂 And she told me about a client she had a couple of days before. All the time in her chair, he was talking trash about Nancy Pelosi and how hypocritical she is, not wearing a mask while doing a haircut… all that nor wearing a mask himself!
My hairdresser said: I told him, yes, I agree; it is very disrespectful not to wear a mask when you have a haircut. You are putting another person in danger. But, my hairdresser concluded, he didn’t get the message!
I asked her, could she refuse him a service per Governor Pritzker order? And she said: no, we can’t reject any client these days!
I feel very sorry for her because she is a person here who puts her life in danger. And I can’t wrap my head around such behavior!
Last Thursday, both on my way to work and back, the train conductor announced multiple times that they would start checking the tickets on Monday.
Since the beginning of the lockdown, conductors stopped checking the tickets, although in the beginning, they were still going through the trains. And then they stopped completely. Tickets were on sale, and I purchased my monthly all that time. But everybody knew that tickets were not checked.
Although it was announced multiple times on the previous days, and on the train this morning, it turned out there were plenty of people who didn’t get the message, quite literally!
As I learned later from the brief conversation with one of the attendants, today was the first day Metra staff was back on the job. I didn’t connect it in the morning when I saw that Palatine train station was finally open. I was hoping they will open soon because it was getting colder every day, and they finally did. But it was a part of one big “back to work” thing. So my hypothesis that they didn’t realize how many people are commuting.
They still didn’t have conductors walking the trains, that the idea was that they would check the tickets before boarding at after getting off the trains at Ogilvie. To make things easier:), they closed a couple of exits.
And so that’s how it looked! As I said, many people didn’t get the message, so they stood at the bottom of the stairs trying either to find their ticket on the app or to buy it.
Hello, six feet apart!
In the morning, I was hoping that they won’t do it again tomorrow. In reality, nobody was checking at the platform when I was boarding the train back. We’ll see what will happen tomorrow morning 🙂
Today, Igor. mom and I were going to see an outdoor performance of the Goodman Theater new production Speak Out! And we went, only to find out about the last-minute cancellation, and it was a long trip for us from Palatine to Portage Park.
One of the performers was tested positive, and they suspended all performances until everybody would get tested and receive results. Which is the right thing to do, but why in the world they didn’t notify us?! Although the performances are free, they asked people to sign-up for email updates, just in case. And that was the case! Also, they didn’t have any updates on the theater webpage, only on their Facebook page.Total wasted time – almost two and a half hours.And that’s me trying to take a break from my two weeks non-stop work + book marathon. I could do something more productive at that time…
Thursday was the first day when we had three people in the office at the same time. By then, I made two more kitchen improvements. First, I plastered the sign “DOES NOT WORK” on the front of the Nespresso Machine. Otherwise, everybody coming to the office for the first time is trying to use it and just waists a pod or two.
Second, I bought a Brita water dispenser. Our water coolers are taped, and initially, our HR purchased bottled water, but it is all gone, and nobody is reordering.
First, I wanted to buy a pitcher, but then I saw that this water dispenser cost the same, and decided that it will be better when there is more than one person in the office. Here is it, and I instructed everybody not to let it dry!
Also, for the first time after six months, I have two meetings next week scheduled with an in-office option. I could not believe my eyes 🙂
On Thursday, I took a long and speedy walk around the Loop intending to check which of the fast and not so fast food restaurants in the Loop had survived the lockdown. I already knew that to my deepest regrets, Pret left Chicago for good. It looks like the same thing happened with Cosi, so out of my to-go places, only Panera survived.
Also, although the sign on Toni’s door says, “we will return,” it does not look like it, which is very sad. There are several new places on Michigan Avenue, maybe I will like some of them, but I miss Toni’s. It looks like Jewelry’s Row has the most of the damaged shop windows, and most of the places are not only plywood-ed, but actually closed.
On a bight side – the city is full of people. Yes, it is far from the usual crowds in the time of peace, but equally far from the March emptiness. And as I already mentioned, 90% of people wear masks. Both of these facts make me optimistic :).