2346: COVID Risk Comfort Zone
|COVID Risk Comfort Zone|
Title text: I'm like a vampire, except I'm not crossing that threshold even if you invite me.
One of the major vectors for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is in sharing an enclosed space with someone who is infected, especially someone who is asymptomatic and not aware of being infected. Wearing a face mask, as both "Inside Cueball" and "Outside Cueball" are, will dramatically reduce the rate of transmission, perhaps by a factor of 30 compared to the "baseline" of neither wearing a mask, but given the limited volume of air available, it is likely that sooner or later one of them will inhale enough air with enough virus-bearing droplets to risk catching the disease. This knowledge leads Outside Cueball to refuse Inside Cueball's invitation to visit indoors, but (in a recurring theme of xkcd) leaves him feeling uncertain as to how he should refuse the invitation. The comic proceeds to depict a spectrum of options.
The first option is overly technical to the extreme, to the point where Outside Cueball is effectively giving Inside Cueball an in-depth lesson on common health advice during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Being overly technical is a common trope among xkcd comics -- in particular, Outside Cueball's fervent insistence that he made a spreadsheet so he doesn't "overthink every minor decision" is disproved by (a) the fact that he made a spreadsheet (cf. 1445: Efficiency) and (b) the events of 2330: Acceptable Risk. The second option that is presented is the most reasonable of the three, being an expression of reasonable concern, and a polite refusal to enter. The last option is simplified to the extreme, and successfully insults the owner of the building while still expressing a desire to avoid coming inside. The title text appears to be a continuation of the last panel. In it, someone, presumably Cueball, compares themselves to a vampire, because folklore has it that vampires cannot enter a building without permission. However, the speaker has no interest in coming inside, despite any invitations that they may have, whereas vampires usually want to come inside to drain the occupants' blood. Some vampires will even take measures to trick an invitation out of a hesitant "host", which is something that would be unthinkable to Outside Cueball under the COVID circumstances.
As a fourth option compromise between the second and third choices, Cueball could just flatly refuse: "No," or "No, thank you." We don't know the circumstances here (is Inside Cueball a friend of Outside Cueball, a shopkeeper, or just a passing acquaintance?), but clearly there's no urgent reason that Outside Cueball has to go inside, and so he doesn't owe Inside Cueball any explanation (nor any insults).
- Ways to say no when someone tells you to do something outside your COVID risk comfort zone:
- [A comic with three panels is shown.]
- [The first panel is large. There are 2 Cueballs each wearing masks. Inside Cueball appears to be in a doorway that leads into a building. Outside Cueball is showing Inside Cueball a phone.]
- Label: Too Indirect
- Inside Cueball: You have to come inside.
- Outside Cueball: Ok, but... I've been trying to follow the science, and they're really emphasizing the transmission risk in enclosed spaces. I know you're wearing a mask, and I feel so awkward making a scene over a tiny risk. But I'm trying to keep my overall risk acceptably low, which means having simple rules so I don't overthink every minor decision. See, if you look at this spreadsheet-
- [Second panel, smaller. Only the Cueball outside is shown now.]
- Label: Direct
- Outside Cueball: I'm so sorry, but I'm avoiding shared indoor spaces unless it's an emergency.
- [Third panel, even smaller. Only the Cueball outside is shown.]
- Label: Too Direct
- Outside Cueball: I'm not setting foot in your haunted plague box.
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