After a successful online registration, I am off to the Messe Wien today to get testet, as a visitor in our own halls, so to speak. At the entrance, my thoughts are circling in several directions: This time last year we held major events here. I hope that the testing won’t hurt and that I’ll leave the hall tested negative. In 2021, I guess “negative” is the new “positive”.
After all those years working at the Messe Wien Exhibition & Congress Center I am still impressed by how professional events or initiatives can be set up within a very short time. The situation, however, is somewhat surreal and seems strange – as if a disaster movie had been replicated.
To be honest, I am a bit excited and curious about what awaits me. Upon entering, I am personally greeted by a man in a military outfit: “I’m glad you found your way here despite the rain.” I wonder how many times he has uttered that sentence today and smile at him. As I continue walking, it occurs to me that the man can’t see me smile under my fancy FFP2 mask, which was handed out earlier. All the staff and helpers from the armed forces are incredibly friendly. The positive atmosphere surprised me quite a bit and at the same time creates a pleasant feeling.
I follow the coloured guidance system to a free test station – so far there have been no waiting times or lines.
Next step is the testing.
“Will it be as unpleasant as some people claim?” is my last thought before the swab is inserted into my nose. I focus on the ceiling of the hall and quietly hum a happy tune to myself. “Already over?” I think to myself as the swab is removed from my nasal cavity after only a few seconds. To be honest it was not unpleasant at all.
I am asked to take a seat and observe my surroundings. From people in white full-body suits to medical staff and armed forces personnel, numerous helpers are actively engaged. Though I am proud to make my contribution to the common good – is this our new world?
Looking around, I discover many friendly faces of like-minded people who, just like me, are waiting for their test results with double the distance between baby elephants and the next person. An elderly lady takes the opportunity to have light-hearted conversations with her neighbours in the waiting area; she must be very happy about the social contact with other human beings. The children, on the other hand, sit wordlessly in their seats. I wonder what the visit triggers in them and how their parents have prepared them for it – probably situations like this will be normal for the next generation, who knows? For me, the scenery is still strange – usually these halls would be filled with large events day in and day out. Nevertheless, I am proud that the halls are being used for another, bigger purpose during this time of crisis. The term flexibility, which I use in our marketing texts every day, has taken on a completely new meaning.
A few minutes later, a paramedics with a smile on his face hands me the negative test result. Although I expected the result, I am relieved and enjoy the feeling of security, even if only for a short time. Less than 20 minutes later, I follow the well thought-out floor markings to leave Hall A in the direction of the office.
An experience I could not even imagine some time ago – nevertheless, good to have been there!