Pandemic Paranoia and Perplexing Porch Pirates

I usually don’t get paranoid about much of anything, but you know, it’s a new world out there now. I can wrap my mind around the new norms: no shaking hands, six+ feet apart, masks in public, wash my hands so often my new friend is hand cream (not something that’s easy for a guy to accept using…a lot), and so on.

Since receiving packages at home is a bit risky for theft, last fall I got a private mailbox set up for the shop business and conveniently, a safe drop for personal packages. Mr. Pandemic wrecked that brilliant plan, so I’ve shifted everything to come to the house now.

But wait…how many people have TOUCHED these packages? Or sneezed on them? Perhaps these goodies from Amazon and elsewhere are just silent taxi cabs for Mr. & Mrs. Covid19 and their darling two million offspring to hitch a ride and then onto my hands. And even though I’ve gotten much better about not touching my face, I am a guy, so you know: takes us longer to do the sensible thing.

Rewind three weeks ago when my overly process-oriented mind developed a way to take the risk probability of package contamination so low it’s out there four of five digits past the decimal point. Here’s how the conversation went (south, some would say) in my head:

Me brain: “Wait, can’t viruses live on stuff for like, days and days?”

Inner logic-man: “No, the CDC already said risk is super low on mail and packages, and at best, they survive for 24 hours on paper, which is, in essence, your incoming packages.”

Me brain: “But how many DOZENS of people, most likely those near-zombie-like postal workers forced to slave away in the sorting centers when they should be home waiting to cut cards with the Covid devil to see if they live or die? And those UPS drivers: never trust someone who wears all brown. And brown socks with shorts? Really?”

Inner logic-man: “But even so, the risk probability is so low that it’s likely very safe.”

Me brain: “Not taking chances. I’ll develop a process to disinfectant the box outsides, AND everything inside, too!”

Inner logic-man, sighing: “Whatever, dude.”

And so I started my “keep my packages from killing me cuz I love to order online” process. I call it “Operation Armedreadon.” Here’s how it (now) works, after evolving the process through trial and terror:

  1. Waste several hours sitting and watching for the package drop, despite having an app that shows me about when it will arrive. Nevertheless, diligence is protection. Because, you know. Porch Pirates.
  2. When said package arrives, wait for the delivery person to leave the scene, based on the principle that every one of them has Covid19 and likely bubonic plague and Ebola too, just for grins. Six feet? Hell, 60 feet, please and thank you.
  3. Open front door and enter the contamination zone, armed with only freshly washed hands and a sharp knife. Occasionally I forget I’m still in pajamas and bathrobe, but that isn’t important right now.
  4. Using only the forefinger and thumb on each hand (to limit contagion, and when, er, if this rule’s violated, I have to go back inside and wash hands again and restart), carefully position package so I can slit the tape to open the box. Again, just using those digits and the knife.
  5. Now unceremoniously dump contents onto porch (remembering to be quick since contagion’s time clock is ticking a deadline countdown to absolute contagion). All this time M.C. Hammer’s “You Can’t Touch This” is my ear worm to remind me DON’T TOUCH THE STUFF INSIDE CUZ YOU JUST TOUCHED THE BOX.
  6. Again, using two of my sacrificed four hand digits, deftly carry the box to the recycling bin at the end of the building, cut the rest of the tape, and drop in the big blue box that’s helping to save the planet.
  7. Returning to the house, deftly use the remaining, non-contaminated fingers to open the door, then…you guessed it, go wash my hands. And the knife, too. I do know where’s it’s been, so…Must…Be…Sanitized.
  8. Now I go back to the porch, smug knowing that any Covid19 cooties are dead by now and retrieve my goods.

“But wait…don’t you sanitize the inside stuff?” you’re probably thinking. At first yes, but now, through countless packages and even more countless bumblings of clumsiness (you try doing something with a sharp knife and a box using only two fingers and see how your patience thrives), I figured those have gone days and days without being touched. No self-respecting virus would dare live that long.

And those ever-watchful, ever-opportune porch pirates? Ha! They cruise around looking for lonely boxes. This process totally confuses them because instead they see some new socks, a bag of Ricola cough drops, a new book or two, a bag of coffee beans, and on a good day if I’ve won the Amazon Lottery for Vitamin C, a bottle of that.

Plus, I think there’s fewer Porch Pirates roaming the high seas of empty roads these days because, you know, they touched all those boxes and surely most of them have died off from Covid19 cooties by now.

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