Raymond drives around a long line of cars stopped along the highway under a greyed sky. His lungs ice over as he surveys each vehicle, taking in the details of each driver gripping their steering wheels or staring down into their laps. Occupied tents and camp chairs litter the footpath. People stare at him as he passes and parks his car. He has arrived to work half an hour early. He regrets it.
His supervisor, Michelle, is here early too. Her face creases as she looks at him. “Are you all they’ve sent me?”
“I’m the first to arrive, I think,” Raymond says, turning to stare at the line of cars. Nurses, equally early, shuffle past them in a hurry, protective gear creasing with their every step.
Michelle takes her phone out. Her shoulders fall. “…it’s just us today.”
The pair stand together. A honk echoes off the rooves of the cars. The drivers have spotted them standing and staring. The testing site opens in twenty-five minutes — but the drivers, eyes hidden by the tinted windows exacerbated by the dim morning light, held bitter expectation that they begin work long before they were meant to. Controlling the traffic of these dozens of waiting cars will be a monumental task for just two people. The layout of the site makes it difficult to control the overcrowding of vehicles, let alone for an understaffed team.
They are not prepared.