Jesler van Houdt
On the first day of my 14-day quarantine in Germany, a letter from the ministry of health was already waiting for me on the kitchen table. It contained all the things I was allowed to do during the upcoming two weeks and, more importantly, everything I absolutely wasn't if I didn't want to spend my precious pocket money on a big fine. The letter ended with a warning: a scam was going around in Lower Saxony, the German federal state I'm currently spending my obligatory self-quarantine in, where people dress up in those back-to-the-future, yellow COVID-19 protective suits, knock on your door unannounced and try to sell you Corona-detection tests and enter your home, claiming to be ministry of health officials.
Little did I know then that the most suspicious thing about the scammers wouldn't be their oversized, yellow suits but the fact that they would actually show up. That they would knock on my door to check up on me. Because over the nine days I have been in quarantine - nine days of sticking my head out of the window for a taste of fresh air and of starting a conversation with every little fly that entered the living room only to turn around again and escape into freedom - not a single person has asked my family and myself to stand behind a window and wave, proving our imprisonment.
I must say that I'm quite disappointed by this. I was strangely looking forward to meeting the local police force in this way. Now, I'm left waving at the brilliant Tatort detectives on TV that solve every crime and would never forget that one family in that tiny town in the middle of nowhere that are watching the clock hands move (Tatort is the go-to TV entertainment on Sunday nights Germany).
By now, though, the police have been replaced by postmen and -women - a group of people that now knows us better than we know ourselves. It’s just that if you can't go anywhere, you have to find ways to get anywhere to come to you. And what is easier than doing this in the form of little brown packages, filled with chocolate, waffles, and useful things like kiwis?
I know I'm painting quite the grey picture here. To be entirely fair, though, it's already day 9/14 of my self-quarantine and I am not yet banging my head against a wall. I can't say whether that's because University College Freiburg started up again (online, of course), that I discovered both a new Netflix show (Pose - do recommend) and a new podcast (Power Corrupts - still finding out whether it is recommendable), or that we're watching nature documentaries every night, imagining to roam the skies like Philippines eagles and master the waves like King penguins. All I know at this point is that I only have five more days to go. Five more days until I can guiltily lie on my bed and watch Netflix, knowing very well that I should be going out for a walk.
Jesler van Houdt