Covid Chaos Episode #9
I took a test the other day.
I took a test even though I have no symptoms. Even though I have been adequately protected. Even though I have been cautious. Even though, as a volunteer EMS responder, my direct contact with this nasty virus remains sporadic.
Here is the problem. I hate tests. They scare me. I don’t like failing.
I am still relieved that I passed my behind-the-wheel driver’s test all those years ago and I don’t have to take it again. Because I recently failed the eye test. I wasn’t aware that the DMV needed to know which way the E is pointing. Thanks to Warby Parker, I nervously passed on the second try.
I have been apprehensive about tests since the day I was born. I passed the Apgar test, but I cried while taking it.
At some point, I anxiously suffered through IQ tests. Those are the particularly nasty tests where you have to complete hieroglyphic sequences and transform two dimensional diagrams into 3D using your mind. The results of those tests I am sure are the reason I am bad at code breaking and origami.
And I still sweat when I see a bubble sheet that requires a number 2 pencil. I blame a less than stellar result on the SAT as the primary reason I write this column.
Test anxiety remains with me to this day. It doesn’t matter what the test is.
Heck, I even get nervous taking a test of the emergency broadcast system. The shrill, warbly tones and static gives me chills. What if I mistakenly ignore the warning and succumb to a Martian invasion?
Even tests that I have a good chance of passing scare me. For example I am sure I would do well taking a drug test or a literacy test. And surely I can pass a pregnancy test.
But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be nervous about the outcome.
I mean, what if I received an erroneous result on a sanity test? If I took the test again and passed, it would only indicate that I am schizophrenic. That’s nuts.
So I completely avoid tests that I know I won’t pass. Like endurance tests or fitness tests. You won’t find me in a crash test either. I am no dummy.
Despite my underlying confidence that the test I took recently is not necessary, I still feel uneasy. Even knowing that failing is a good thing. You see, It is not the test that worries me, it is the prolonged uncertainty. Because if I fail, I am not excused from taking the test again.
At first there was a test for getting a test. You had to have fever-like symptoms and be cleared by a physician in order to have a large Q-tip shoved up your nose, which apparently are in short supply. Q-tips, not noses.
Now there are two tests. There is a test to determine if you are presently positive and an antibody test to determine if you were past positive. If you pass the past test you should fail the present test but that is not true because past positives and false positives are also testing presently positive. If you fail the present positive that means you may or may not fail the past positive and are presently passed to where you were before you took the tests in the first place.
You need to be a Mensa member to understand this.
To be effective, testing should be treated like voting. It should be done early and it should be done often. But it wasn’t, and now with limited capabilities, we are also tempting fate while we attempt to test the virus.
So it seems to me that the real test at this moment in time is who needs a test. And there is no test to tell us that. Only public health officials and politicians.
As a byproduct of my past SAT scores, I am neither. But may I humbly suggest that if you work in a meat packing factory or a grocery store or a hospital or a warehouse, you should be tested a lot without question. If you crowd a bar or a beach or a birthday party without a care or a mask, you must pass an EQ test, a hearing test, a comprehension test, and a sillines test before you are allowed access to valuable virus tests.
That kind of logic probably won’t tame the pandemic as the country opens up, but it makes me feel a whole lot less anxious about testing.
I am happy and sad to report that I wasted a perfectly good test that maybe wasn’t needed. As I confidently feared, I failed the test.
I am now free to be exposed to more testing again.