and the sequel, "Hail Mary" https://www.amzn.com/1684334888
Buy them on Amazon.
At the beginning of the week vaccine eligibility for my age group opened in Ohio, and by Friday all the members of my Posse - formerly my Wednesday morning Panera Posse,
Even my mate had managed to wrangle himself an appointment.
Still, by the end of last week I was feeling mighty alone in the not-yet-vaccinated department.
I had registered my name for the vaccine shot at Ohio Health, Franklin County Board of Health, Ohio State Health, Mount Carmel Health, Meijer's and Drug Mart. Multiple times every day I checked the Walgreen's, Kroger, and CVS COVID vaccine websites. I likewise called the Ohio Health and Ohio State Health COVID hotlines a couple of times each day to see if a new batch of vaccine had arrived, some of the nice staff workers at those places having passed on to me the tip that one never knew when a new batch of vaccine would arrive, and if one happened to call and inquire at the moment when a new batch arrived, one had a chance of procuring a dose for oneself.
Frankly, I'm not sure why the distribution worked that way, but I figured mine not to wonder why, mine but to do or...well, hopefully not die.
And yet , while I was having no luck finding a COVID vaccine appointment, it seemed to me that plenty of others were having luck. Besides most of my Posse, their mates and my mate, word was coming in from friends and neighbors in my generational circle that they, too, had gotten their shots or appointments. On my Facebook page pictures were popping up of smiling friends pointing to their band aids. Those pictures made me more blue. (I swore that when I finally got my shot I was going to show a little pity for those who lingered where I now was among the COVID vaccine have-nots and not post a smiling me showing off my band aid).
And my morale took a right down thumping every time there appeared on my timeline one of these Kroger ads announcing that their stores had available vaccine.
Now, lest you be at this moment judging me as an overly-privileged, overly-self-absorbed, overly-anxious whiner, I will admit that yes, that's what I was being, and, in truth, likely still am. But let me add that one cannot control one's feelings. So if someone were to say to me, "Stop whining about getting your vaccine, you have it better than 99% of the world," that remark would likely have made me stop whining about getting my vaccine - at least in the presence of that person - but it wouldn't have stopped me from continuing to be overly-privileged, overly self-absorbed, and overly anxious.
I might also add that the reason I was so overly everything about getting my vaccine had nothing to do with being afraid of catching COVID. I'm not in the least worried about catching COVID or anything else, for that matter. I mean, jiminy crickets, I don't leave the house except to go food shopping or on an occasion trip to the post office, and then I'm invariably double masked, wearing a face shield, and practicing extreme social distancing.
No, the reason I wanted my shot so badly was because I miss my children and other loved ones with the heat of a thousand suns. And though being vaccinated against COVID might not make it immediately possible for me to visit with my unvaccinated daughter, son-in-law and grand children in Los Angeles,
I had several near-misses.
One day I received a robo-call from Ohio State telling me to call immediately to schedule my shot, but in the five minutes it took me to reach the scheduling center the appointments had been given out to folks who were also robo-called and apparently quicker on the draw or just luckier than myself. That's how fast the shots were going.
Another day Tom was sitting at his computer trawling around the online vaccine-verse looking for any availability when the Mount Carmel site showed a list of available appointments. But every time he tried to schedule one of the open appointments a box would pop up on the page informing him that the proffered time was no longer available and then he would have to return to the appointment page and start over. One by one he watched the number of appointments dwindle until there were none left.
Yet another time a friend texted me to tell me to hustle to the Walgreen's site, that some available appointments were showing up. Once again I was beat out.
Every near miss made me feel worse. I was concluding that I simply did not have good vaccine karma.
Last Friday morning - February 12 - I was shopping in Kroger's when I thought, Aw, what the heck. I perambulated over to the pharmacy and, feeling not a little foolish, asked the tech if by chance thy might have some vaccine available or maybe a cancelled appointment.
The friendly tech smiled sympathetically and said, "Oh, no, we sure don't."
I smiled back, thanked her anyway, and told her to stay safe.
"Well, wait a minute," said the tech. She pulled out a piece of paper and a pencil and asked me for my name and phone number and told me that if by chance there was a cancellation she'd call.
Later that afternoon I could hear my cell phone ringing off in the distance somewhere around the house. I looked around for my phone, which had stopped ringing by the time I found it under some papers.
I checked the screen of my phone. The call had been made at 4:27 pm and was from a number unknown to me. I then realized that another call had also been made to my phone from that same number two minutes earlier. Oh fudge!
I pulled up the Kroger website lickety-split, and - oh superfudge! - the phone number of the pharmacy was the same as the phone number of the mystery calls on my phone.
My hands were already sweating and my stomach flip-flopping as I dialed the Kroger pharmacy number. Three minutes had passed since the last call from the pharmacy. I waited on the line another minute or two, sure beyond a miserable doubt that I'd once again near-missed my chance, this time through my own dumb fault for not having my phone at my fingertips every second of the day.
When a live pharmacist finally answered I was so ruffled that I could barely give her a coherent explanation for my call. However the patient pharmacist somehow understood what I was trying to spit out.
"Okay, wait just a minute," she said after asking me my name and birthdate. "Let me see...hmmmm...all right...hmmmm....okay..."
By now the Cirque de Soleil was preparing to doing its finale in my intestinal tract.
"Oh yes," the pharmacist finally said brightly. "That was you we called and yes, we do have a dose of vaccine for you."
The Cirque de Soleil stopped spinning and started singing the Hallelujah Chorus.
"I'll be right over!" said I.
"Sure, just come on by whenever."
Whenever? Seriously? "No, I'll be right over!" I reiterated.
And you better believe I was right over.
Anyway, I got my shot then,
After I received my shot I asked the pharmacist if she might by chance have one or two more leftover shots for my Posse friend and her husband, whom I was sure would be glad to zip on over if I called them. The kind pharmacist told me that there were no more doses left on that day but that I should have my friend call the pharmacy every day between four and five pm, as that's when they would know if there were any leftover doses.
I transmitted this information to my friend, who subsequently called the Kroger pharmacy daily between four and five pm as advised by the pharmacist, in hopes of eventually snagging a leftover dose or two. This morning my friend happily informed me that, while Kroger's hadn't panned out for her, she and her husband just received their appointments for their COVID shots from Ohio Health, which news made me very happy, too.
One of my children said to me, "You know, Mom, you're lucky, Think of all the other people who don't have all the time and resources available to them to do what you did to get a COVID shot."
I am thinking of all those others, and I admit that the process of vaccine acquisition in this country involves a messy mix of Darwinism and luck.
(Sigh). Next year in an immunized world.