I went in to work this morning and everything was upended. Areas were quarantined, I was told to go to one other office, then a second, and always with the admonition to wash my hands before and after touching anything. Surfaces are not a big deal in terms of infection, and the hospital knows this, but this had all the marks of "things have gone wrong and we have to do every 1% thing." Through it all, no one could tell me who it was who had tested positive. I had to start guessing from who they were talking to about contact tracing. I was told I was not on the list, perhaps a touch dismissively, though I understand they want to get to the hot points first.
One advantage of social workers is that they are social workers, and my new office-mate figured out the whole story in about a half-hour by making a few calls. It is a woman I shared an office with for a whole day last week, so I was concerned. Indoor air exchange is the one giant risk factor. To skip to the end, this woman's most probable exposure was a day or two after I had exchanged viruses with her for seven hours, so my risk is low. Not zero, however, as the most likely exposure, to her friend who tested positive late last week, is not the definite exposure. The hospital still could not inform me who the person was, because I fell outside the parameters of the contact tracing. I get it. No one did anything wrong.
But by lunchtime I had fully realised "This is going to happen again, sooner or later." I would be exposed and would not know until after. I had gone back to the coverage job in April partly for myself and liking to be useful and making a little money, but mostly because the hospital needs it. With the vacations and the maternity leaves, my department was hurting all summer and into fall. Well, now they are really hurting, with a lot of people sent home into quarantine this morning. I feel bad leaving them in the lurch, but they can't really fix this for me and I don't need the money. By noon I had decided I am finally leaving, the only question being whether I struggled through working a unit I don't like this week in order to close out at my favorite unit next week in a proper poetic close to my career.
I decided that was thinking emotionally rather than logically and my career now ends on a disjointed, awkward note. Well, that's what real life is. We like our narratives clean, but things seldom go according to script. So I finished up a few things I could rescue from the flames, wrote out my second resignation (the first was going from full-time to part-time in 2016), and said farewell to the few remaining people who were all that important to me. All very abrupt. I haven't had time to process this change in self-definition yet. We'll see.