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Our new reality of Pandemic World is scary and dangerous. I am considered an “essential worker” through my job as a public servant, so I have been on the front lines every single day since this nightmare started. I’ve washed my hands so often I no longer have fingerprints, I’ve got tan lines from wearing a face mask and I’ve worn more rubber gloves than a doctor at a Free Clinic. Also, did you know the pinkie of a rubber glove and the thumb of a rubber glove look remarkably alike, but fit remarkably differently? It only took me a week to figure out why my pinkie always had so much wiggle room.

When COVID-19 tests FINALLY became available in Shasta County, I booked an appointment as soon as possible. Not because I think I’ve been exposed (maybe I have, maybe not) but because I could use the peace of mind. It’s not like I’m bringing the President his Happy Meal or anything, but I still don’t want to be Patient Zero for my entire department.

I scheduled an appointment for this afternoon at Shasta College. While I’ve heard tales of how the tests are conducted, I wasn’t fully prepared for the experience…

1) I was ushered into the gym at Shasta College where I shouted my information through a mostly-clear shower curtain at a human-shaped nurse (gender impossible to determine) who shouted information back at me and then handed me a plastic bag with paperwork in it and gestured vaguely at some shadowy figures across the room.

2) I then walked 700 yards across the *totally silent* and otherwise empty gym to two other human genderless nurses, also standing behind a mostly clear shower curtain. Their silhouettes stood motionless, awaiting my arrival.

3) One of the shapes beckoned for me to join them and made sounds that may have been words but were impossible to understand behind the face shield and mask. I took a seat at the single chair in front of a long and literally empty table.

4) I *think* First Human Nurse asked me my birthday, which I thought was really nice of her/him/them, considering it’s in a few days. However, I did not receive warm wishes and many happy returns, the Human Nurse merely nodded. It felt a little like a test which I think I passed.

5) The Second Human Nurse stood silently behind me at the table, probably in case I fought back or tried to run. We did not exchange any indecipherable words, only wary glances.

6) First Human Nurse produced a stick the size of a Harry Potter wand but longer and with a cotton tip, which she then waved around a little.

7) Then the First Human Nurse regarded me coolly with a side eye for a moment and suddenly and repeatedly jabbed the foot long stick into my nose until it bent and I heard a crack. It was like he/she/they were stoking a fire inside my skull. It sounded like squishing jam in a sandwich bag.

8.) I saw some pretty colors for a little while, perhaps just a moment or perhaps an hour, and distantly I heard shrieking which may have been me or maybe the human nurses cackling in delight. I suspect I blacked out and while I have no proof anything happened to me, when I got home my shirt and underwear were on backwards.

9) When the stick was yanked from my head I felt much better but I no longer remember my last three birthdays and when I hear dogs bark it sounds like they’re saying my name. Also I can’t count past sixteen anymore. Maybe that will come back, it’s too soon to tell.

10) First Human Nurse peered into my eyes for a moment, and then pulled out her phone and tapped on it a few times like she was sending a text. Distantly I could hear what sounded like a radio station, but the gym was so quiet I must have imagined that. There is still a slight buzz coming from somewhere nearby but I can’t pinpoint exactly where.

11) First Human Nurse then gave a solemn nod to Second Human Nurse, who tipped me out of my chair and shoved me towards the exit on the other side of the gym.

12) I finally stumbled outside into the rain but I had to walk around for ten minutes to find my car in the empty parking lot. I got home safely, so at least I still know how to drive.

13) There’s a shiny black suburban parked in front of my house now, but it’s probably just First and Second Nurse keeping an eye on things to make sure I don’t get COVID-19 while I wait for my test results.

I don’t understand why the government says testing is quick and easy because mine took about four hours but I’m told the headaches and dizzy spells should pass soon. Hopefully things will go more smoothly for you and then you can JOIN US. I mean…and then you can have some peace of mind.

(I might be exaggerating about some of this, like the length of the q-tip, and the sensation of the swab that mostly felt like a deep and uncomfortable tickle. Also, the nurses were very professional. But the rest of it probably totally happened.)

Matt Grigsby
Matt Grigsby was born and raised in Redding but has often felt he should have been born in Italy. By day he's a computer analyst toiling for the public good and by night he searches airline websites for great travel deals. His interests include books, movies, prowling thrift shops for treasure and tricking his friends into cooking for him. One day he hopes to complete his quest in finding the best gelato shop in Italy.
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58 Responses

  1. Deborah Segelitz Deborah Segelitz says:

    I love this so much! “It sounded like squishing jam in a sandwich bag” made me cackle like the Human Nurses!

    In all seriousness it sounds like they are handling things as safely and efficiently as they possibly can, and huge kudos to the Human Nurses for being right there in the face of the pandemic, doing the testing. I know a few nurses who would get a good chuckle out of your recounting of events!

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      The nurses did a great job, keeping this safe and sanitary and quick. However, none of those actions were either funny nor interesting, so I HAD TO add my own version of events. After all, I’m allowed some artistic license, right?

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      The “squishing jam in a sandwich bag” didn’t get me laughing.

      I was already laughing from the previous line, about the nurse with the baton-sized swab “…stoking a fire inside my skull.”

  2. Avatar Mike Smith says:

    I have spoken to a few other people who have been tested. I am surprised that there does not seem to be any systematic testing program. These other folks had a personal interest similar to Matt or in one case thought it needed in order to return to work, but not in response to a process. Until the process is in place the data would seem to be of little value to control the virus spread.

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      The tests for non-symptomatic and non-health care workers only became available recently. I was able to make my appointment online yesterday without any trouble. I agree we need the testing to be more widespread, and hopefully that will be coming soon.

  3. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Thanks for the AM chuckle, Matt. After your ordeal, when will the aliens, er, nurses, have your results?

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      The…”nurses”…told me I would have results in 48-72 hours. I’ll get the results transmitted directly into my implanted chip. I mean…I’ll get a text.

  4. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Hey, I had a similar scenario, only I left my confirmation number at home and could not be tested until I drove home and retrieved it. Upon return there was about 30 new folks lined up, but thanks to a friend who was next to get tested, she let me go ahead, to the evil looks of those behind me. While I’d love to agree with Matt and all of the shroom-like experiences it went quite smoothly. I was told I’d get my results in the mail and if it was positive the health department would call. After about 7 days and no mail, I got a call from someone at the firm that’s contracted to do the testing and she told me it was Negative. I thanked her, and asked how long that result would last; she said until an assumed exposure, then another test would be needed. PS Despite being a cowboy the first 30 yrs of my life, I didn’t attend the Cottonwood Rodeo.

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      I’m glad I took my patient number with me so I didn’t have to wait. I’m surprised there were so many people in line! When I went there was just one person ahead of me and one behind. It was very, very quiet in there. And you’re right, things went very smoothly. But it was also dull. I needed to add my own version.

  5. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Coming soon (I hope): The COVID-19 Tall Tale Part II: Matt gets a COVID-19 vaccine, loses consciousness, has a near-death experience, talks to God through a cloudy curtain of mist (or shower curtain), wakes up in Lubbock TX, starts hitch-hiking home, spends a night at a commune in Sedona AZ, eats peyote in a sweat lodge, sees God again (this time for real), catches a second ride with a long-haul trucker in Flagstaff, falls in love, and settles down in Downey.

    The best proof that Matt is exaggerating a bit isn’t his admission at the end. It’s that Commander Shinsplints is reportedly getting tested every day or two now. If that notoriously discomfort-averse wuss is getting the test on the regular, you know it’s not that bad.

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      I sincerely hope any vaccination I have will unfold in this manner!

      And frankly, the fact that the Dumpster Fire in the White House is being tested every day tells me it’s bad.

      • Avatar don cohen says:

        Steve there is a less invasive version of the test which is less invasive made by Abbott that he gets.

    • Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

      In the original book, John Carter of Mars, Carter fell asleep in a cave in Arizona and woke up on Mars. Maybe the COVI test sent Matt to Mars.

      • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

        I love a good John Carter of Mars reference!

        This might mean I am immortal. And I have a hybrid Martian family waiting for me to return to them.

    • Avatar Rob Belgeri says:

      Okay, I was with you until you sentenced him to life imprisonment in Downey. My time in SoCalif was spent where I could see and walk up to the San Gabriels or Verdugo mountains. Those flat towns like Downey and Bellflower seemed like hell to me. Gimme mountains.

  6. H A Silliman H A Silliman says:

    Quite a description. Funny and serious…but it really sounds like this was an alien abduction.

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      For all I know it was an alien abduction. They certainly wouldn’t let me keep all my memories of the event!

  7. Avatar Cathy Allen says:

    This is the best thing I’ve read in ages! Laughing all the way

  8. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    My wife slept in a bit this morning. I read this to her while she was still in bed. She was laughing so hard that I had to pause several times to let her catch her breath.

  9. Avatar Candace says:


  10. Oh, Matt! I literally laughed out loud throughout this. You are the master of observational humor. I needed this so much! So clever, so witty, so smart. Hysterically funny.

    Happy almost birthday! I’m so glad you were born! Thank you for sharing this with us today. And here’s to a negative COVID-19 test.


    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      This piece basically wrote itself, the words just poured out. I really wish I had taken some photos of the setup!

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this Doni! I haven’t felt inspired to write in quite a while, the pandemic really sapped a lot of my creativity.

  11. Avatar Peggy Elwood says:

    Not only the funniest man on the funniest man on ANC!

  12. Avatar Gail says:

    Funny yes, but keeping my fingers crossed I will never have to experience that test. I may just double mask-up from now on.

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      Hopefully your experience will be a little smoother than mine. 🙂

      Seriously though, it wasn’t bad at all. I expected far worse.

  13. Avatar Chad Magnuson says:

    Matt, your experience for testing explains why the president is acting so crazy during this time.
    Since he gets tested daily he must be walking around much like you seeing pretty colors and being in another state of mind continuously.

  14. Avatar Viki says:

    So funny. I had last year and have had more than enough probes stuck in my sinuses to my brain. Think I will skip getting tested unless I have to. Lol

    Thanks for a good laugh this morning.

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      If you had nasal surgery, you’ve already been through far worse than me! You can laugh at those Human Nurses when they try to scare you with the long swab!

  15. Avatar Chad Magnuson says:

    I also signed up for the testing.
    Made my appointment on the first day online.
    I selected the day but could not select the time.
    They sent me a reservation/appointment confirmation number.
    Upon arrival at the shower curtain decorated gym, I showed my confirmation number.
    But the nurses could not give me the test due to a glitch??
    As a result I’ve decided not to get the test after all. Mainly because it is really nothing more than a superficial indication of the coronavirus infection.
    It tells you if your positive or negative at the time. What happens once you leave the the testing site.

    I’m all for doing whatever is necessary to provide information but this particular test is very limited.

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      I mainly took the test just to be sure I’m currently fine. I know it’s only as good as what you’ve been exposed to in the past two weeks, but with my job duties I felt it was wise to get tested. I’ll do it again as needed.

      • Avatar chad magnuson says:

        Matt, I’m also considered an “essential” worker and that was why they let me sign up for the test.

        I asked by personal doctor for a test and he said I did not qualify for the test because I do not have systems.
        In very early January I was sick as a dog for 3-4 weeks. I assumed I had a bad case of the flu. I would like to be tested for antibodies to see if I was infected.

        No such testing is available in Shasta county.

        • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

          Correct, we don’t have the antibody testing available yet. However, anyone can take the test for the active virus now, including people without symptoms and people who aren’t essential workers.

  16. Avatar Chad Magnuson says:

    To top off my nasal swab testing which did not happen I received the following

    “You recently attended a test. Your results will be ready in 48-72 hours. You will be notified when they are ready for viewing in LHI.Care”

    This message was received 10 days after my testing date, which I did not get tested.
    I do not have much confidence in our local testing.

    Perhaps Shasta county is a beta site for the company doing the testing!

  17. Avatar Katie says:

    Matt, I really enjoyed your version of events, very funny. I just had my nasal swab testing moments ago. What an “experience”! The whole process went very quickly, and was easy to set up online. I was the only one there and in and out in less than 5 minutes it seemed. During the nasal swab, just as I was about to give up all my secrets to get them to stop, the torture was over and off I went, eyes watering a bit. I hope the data helps, but like Chad said, it’s one data point, at one moment in time. Should we all be doing regular testing? Would antibody testing make more sense? Ho Hum. I don’t know.

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      You describe it perfectly, the torture stopped just as it was starting to become really uncomfortable. It was very quick and simple, but that doesn’t make for a good story. I needed to add my own spin to things.

      I would get tested again, as needed. I will continue to be exposed throughout this crisis.

    • Avatar John Whittenberger says:

      The test is only good for a moment in time but it will give the stats people an idea of what % of the population is positive.

      I think Shasta County has been lucky not to have had an outbreak. It’s only luck and if we do more Rodeo stunts our luck may turn.

  18. Avatar Shelley says:

    Matt You just know I love your stories. I needed a giggle this morning??
    Love Shelley

  19. Avatar Sheri Eby says:

    Fabulous story. I cracked up. Looking forward to reading more of your writing. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed my little “adventure”!

      PS. I’ve got all sorts of articles on this website. Just do a search and you’ll find plenty of things to read!

  20. Avatar Gracious Palmer says:

    Matt, Thank you. My left side hurts. ?. I don’t know if it is from laughing ????or if it really hurts. It doesn’t matter. It just feels good to laugh, chuckle, and giggle. + you have saved me four hours. Now I can go have dinner ??

  21. Avatar Aleta Carpenter says:

    Too funny! BTW, the best gelato shop is not in Italy (and, believe me, I’ve tried almost every one of them); it’s in Hong Kong! You take the funicular to the top of Victoria Peak, and there it is! I’m actually making gelato today based on one of the flavors I had there: Strawberry Basil.

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      Mmmm… strawberry basil! That sounds amazing!

      The only really good gelato I’ve had outside of Italy was actually in Seattle. It tasted just like the old country!

  22. Avatar Paula Brovan says:

    This column needs to be enshrined in the ANC Hall of Fame next to your possum columns ?

  23. Avatar Barbara Diamond says:

    Still wiping the tears from my eyes from laughing so long and so hard! You should write for the Daily Show or Stephen Colbert. This is hilarious!

  24. Lynne Wonacott Lynne Wonacott says:

    Geez Matt. why are you trying to discourage folks from taking the test that might help us get through this pandemic? i tested last Monday and it was nothing like your experience. it was easy to sign in to a friendly nurse who i had no trouble identifying as female as if it mattered and then moved to the next station for the test. the nurse there used the sanitation station and asked my birthday which is really common to confirm your identity. if this was all tongue then it failed. It really wasn’t funny.

    • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

      My goodness. Thank you for your feedback Lynne. It was not my intention to discourage anyone from getting the test, and indeed I believe everyone should be tested. As this is not a medical journal, it’s a shame anyone would take my article as anything other than satire.

      These are dark days and I’m sorry you couldn’t find some humor in this serious situation. In fact, it seems like I have angered and offended you, which was also not my intention. Please feel free to write and submit your own articles and make them as amusing as suits your own sense of humor.

      PS. It is also possible you have been implanted with false memories of a good experience.

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