Nothing, absolutely nothing went as meticulously planned. Almost every aspect of my Tokyo experience was a disappointment or challenge of an order that tested every ounce of grace I could muster while trying to maintain a Buddha mind.
Even so I had an amazing experience. It was not unlike going to a restaurant wishing to eat a certain dish and the chef sends out something else. It was not what I ordered and not what I really, really, really was dying to eat; however, it was beyond delicious.
When I disembarked from Air Canada flight 004 I was well rested. I’d had a great sleep, I was in wonderful spirits, and I had a deep level of serenity (good thing) in spite of facing a 6-hour layover in an empty airport with only a Starbucks, a couple of junk food joints and one newsstand open. I got through Customs without any difficulty after which I was directed to the Quarantine Officer to my right.
Wishing to fully understand what I would face on my return (which was significantly different from what I could enjoy in Tokyo), I’d read the Federal Quarantine Order. It contained comprehensive pointers, but not everything I might or might not be permitted to do was clearly spelled out.
I approached the officer with a smile and a cheery good morning. He handed me a piece of paper and sternly told me that I was now under a federally ordered quarantine, to go straight home and follow the instructions on the sheet.
Thinking I’d get Brownie points for my thoughtfulness I said: Thank you. I read the quarantine order online before I left Tokyo. However, I have a couple of questions.
Yes, go ahead.
Am I permitted to be alone in my car and go for a drive?
No. Stay at home means stay at home. What if you had an accident? What if you ran out of gas?
This was delivered in a tone that said: What part of stay at home do you not understand?
First, though I refrained from saying so, the document does not say to stay at home. The sheet he handed me read: Go directly to your place of quarantine without delay and stay there for 14 days from the date you arrive in Canada. Do not go into community settings.
Second, there are many types of places where one might be quarantined which are not addressed in the instructions. Parts of the order deal with what to do if more than one person lives in that place; however, the directions make numerous assumptions and are somewhat vague.
Third, the document spells out how to fill up with gas if you are driving yourself to your “place of quarantine.” That “what if” is covered. As for accidents, those can happen in any “place of quarantine” as easily as on the road. The logic of his answer didn’t fly.
My lips were Buddha’s lips, but in that moment I was not quite of Buddha mind.
There is nothing like a uniformed toad with a particular presumption of his own privilege and demigod, daddy-o mindset whose most vigorous form of exercise in the past 40 years has been wagging his finger at others to test the Buddha mind.
I had other legitimate questions but refrained from asking any of them. He’d only think me an impertinent smart ass. It was safer to plead ignorance after the fact should I ever need to do so. Instead, I said with much more sweetness than was in my heart: Sir, please understand that I am not challenging you. I am merely clarifying what the rules are—exactly—so that I can be sure to obey them and not make mistakes.
Even though the intel on this particular virus, it’s character and measures we should take to minimize risks to ourselves and others changes by the hour, I understand the protocols of establishing and maintaining red and green zones in my home as well as minimizing the risks to all concerned very well. I’d been practicing them in my Tokyo home for weeks. This dude probably leaves the seat up—but I digress.
If he were less steeped in ignorance and puffed up by his costume he should have operated under the assumption that his breath may well have contaminated the very paper he had just given me with COVID-19. Frankly, we must assume everything we touch needs to be sanitized. But that’s not quite the level of consciousness we’re at. We’re getting there. The question is: Are we getting there fast enough?