perspective

A Shot in the Arm

To vaccine or not to vaccine? That was the question.

This won’t be a political post. I’m not here to convince you either way. I won’t judge you whether you get it or not. I’m just sharing my experience here as part of our coronavirus time capsule.

I was scheduled for 2:30 pm on a Friday. My spot in line was ensured by my work in a public school. By the time my turn rolled around, many co-workers had already had shot #1 and remarked on how organized and efficient it was.

The scene: an old Sears in an abandoned mall. Actually, it’s the mall featured in the show Stranger Things which kind of made me both giggle and pause. It was also the mall where I happened to be shopping when the first tower fell on 9/11. A setting with a history.

I parked and walked up to the well-signed venue. Workers with vests and clipboards awaited. Mask on, I had my two copies of paperwork and ID. Had I been diagnosed recently? Feverish? Quarantined? All these questions are routine now. No. No. No. Then position my face in the outline on the tablet screen for my infrared temp check. New version of another daily routine.

Line after line after windy, mazy line. Socially distanced. No photos allowed. Moving through the queue. It was a Friday and many had come from their respective schools, so it was a parade of school spirit shirts. Others were older, some returning for their second dose.

I made it to a table with a worker and two piles of papers. One said Pfizer, the other Moderna. Which would I be given? Does it matter? Will one be more effective than the other? Side effects worse or better? Most I know had received Pfizer. I answered all the questions as she handed me all my info and my Moderna paper. Off to another line.

Sitting down, asked “why are you here today?” I guess they have to ensure that I know why I’m here. No one is coercing me. Which arm, right or left? Are you allergic to anything? Finally, the needle comes out. Imagine you are on a beach, the nurse said. The more relaxed you are the easier it will be. Practice poor posture, she said. Sigh and ok. Hardly felt a thing then it was done and up again.

Socially distanced chairs in another waiting area. 15 minutes just to be sure you’re ok. I wait, scanning social media. Workers circulate. My time is up, 3:13 pm. Another worker, are you feeling ok? Everyone careful to look you in the eye. And another set of questions at the table. Are you nauseous? Rashy? Itchy? More no. And off I go.

On the way out, a sign that said to go ahead and tweet, insta, facebook, and snap my vaccine. I paused for a pic then just went to the car. A goose was circling, hissing. He had been there on the way in, too. Honestly, that was the scariest part of the day, that stupid goose. Must be a nest nearby, I think. Life does go on.

I’ll return for dose 2 in 28 days. We’ve already gotten the lecture at work…be prepared to feel yucky for a couple of days. That could make for a crappy weekend. But, life will go on and I’ll hopefully have less reason to worry about some of the long term effects of this illness. I hope getting this vaccine will somehow help protect the many in society who can’t.

Thank you, health care workers. Thank you, scientists. A profound and reflective moment.

author moments

Big Bang Theories

At the beginning of a race, you might expect to hear a gunshot or even two.

At the shooting range, or on a hunting trip, out in a field in the country, sure. Gunshot makes sense.

But in a Mexican restaurant on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Salem, Virginia? Where we just happened to stop in the middle of a marathon whiplash road trip?

Well, maybe I am naive (ok, definitely), but it wasn’t the first place my mind went when I heard the huge bang with a slight echo. It *was* unusually loud, and I shared glances with a few other guests, but my mind told me it was a huge tray being dropped, which I then told the rest of the table. We kept eating.

One of my daughter’s friends saw the police pull up out the front window a few minutes later. Several officers casually walked back to the restroom area, where a man was seated. They put on gloves.

Many of us started to murmur, to wonder. What was all this about? All the while, we keep eating. More baskets of chips and salsa arrived with the same fanfare as the police walked in. Nothing to see here, or so it seemed.

Next, the ambulance. And then, the firetruck, all with lights flashing.

Again, the EMTs casually rolled the stretcher in. They loaded the man on. His jeans were cut open and he held a towel over his thigh. They rolled him out to the ambulance. He had really shot himself! In the bathroom! In the leg! On accident!

!!!!!

The waiter brought our check. We paid, uncomfortable and astonished. I did an 18-point turn to get out of the parking lot, weaving through the emergency vehicles. We continued on our way.

For the next hour or two as we headed down the road, every once in a while I or one of the others in the car would blurt out a “What if…” comment. What if the gun had been pointing another direction? What if I had gone to the bathroom at that time? What if his injuries had been more serious? What if there had been an argument and he had shot someone else? What if there were more guns in the restaurant?

Even years later now, I am shocked reading this. And today, in early 2021, I spoke with someone who showed me a picture of an acquaintance who had shot himself in the leg just days ago. An experienced and knowledgeable gun owner, he was planning to shoot into the ground but instead he will live with a bullet in his bone.  It could have been much worse.

Be careful out there. You never know who’s packing.