Monday this week we were booked for the first of our Covid jabs. Half an hour before my appointment things were looking good. I checked I had my phone and something to read. My husband had his jacket on and a cup of coffee in hand which means I’ll be doing the driving while he tries to sip without spilling it all down his jumper. There were other factors to consider such as the crappy weather and my desire not to have to park miles away. I grabbed the keys, backed the car out of the garage and waited. No sign of the passenger. I resisted the urge to toot the horn but I was starting to huff. Then I saw half a body flash by the windows at the front door. It was going the wrong way. By this time I was getting mad. His appointment was after mine – he could afford to be late. I couldn’t. I put the car in gear and slowly drove out towards the road. Still no sign. I was parked on the footpath when he sauntered out of the house, slippers on and a shoe in each hand. ‘Couldn’t find my shoes.’ Really? That he couldn’t find one specific pair of shoes amongst the millions lying at every doorway of the house, did surprise me but I knew anything I had to say was possibly not going to get me a job and the UN so I took off. I was surprised he didn’t knock himself out on the consul while he had his head down looking for his foot.
We made it to the hospital with quite a bit of time to spare. I found a good park and was walking through the snow and sleet and bitterly cold wind before he had a chance to find the door handle. At the door I produced my phone and captured the Covid barcode. I forgot to squirt the stuff but as it turned out, it didn’t matter anyway. Our neighbour was ahead of us in the queue ‘We could’ve shared a ride,’ she says. I chuckled and imagined how exciting it would’ve been with both of us hanging around waiting out the shoe drama. I got up to the counter and the woman couldn’t find me in the system. ‘Let’s see that apt on your phone. Oh look,’ she says pointing a fingernail I consider far too long to be of any use on a keyboard, ‘Its 09:30 PM not AM.’ Well that was news I didn’t expect to hear, but sure enough, there it was in black and white. To someone who spent their entire working life using a 24 hour clock, 0930 doesn’t need explanation but when it comes to stupid people who can’t understand that there was a perfectly good system before they came along and subverted it, apparently 0930 needs either an AM or PM qualification because omg!! who would know what 2130 meant?
We trudged back out into the snow. All the way home he kept repeating various iterations of – I’m not going back at half past bloody nine tonight. First thing he did was ring the 0800 number and explain the situation. I could hear the woman on the other end of the phone expressing dismay and surprise. She offered him a choice and he went for the appointment the following day. Impressed with his ingenuity I also rang and took the lunchtime appointment that he didn’t want.
I wasn’t quite as optimistic on my second run of the day but apparently the computer at Covid HQ had spoken to the one at the clinic and I was ushered in . I found myself sitting beside my mother’s former neighbours, Neil and Dawn. ‘Keep an ear out for Horace and Gloria.’ she said, with her voice little more than a whisper. ‘That’s us.’ She spent the next ten minutes telling me about her latest driftwood sculpture. Gloria with a hammer was a great image to be left with.
One by one people disappeared out the back. Gloria and Horace were replaced with the crazy man who couldn’t sit still and sent his wife up to check out which vaccine we were to get. I wondered where he’d been for the past year but said nothing. When he found out what it was he complained because we should be getting the same one as they get in Aussie. In the end, a man wearing a mask leaned over and gave him a lesson on the efficacies of the various vaccines. It made not one wit of difference. The call to ‘come on through’ saved a heated debate because my name was coupled with The mask wearing know-it-all. We trekked down the long hallway, past the little fan heater trying to dry a large, damp patch of carpet and waited to be called in. ‘You can talk to each other,’ said the friendly meet-and-greet person, never imagining one of us wouldn’t want to. Luckily I got to go in first. The vaccinator had obviously experienced a morning weighted strongly towards the far end of the age spectrum. When I answered no to all the questions about blood thinners and strokes and previous medication issues, she was surprised. It was a flawless encounter and as with nurses the world over, we took no time at all to diss the system and suggest a few changes.
I waited the required post vax twenty minutes in a room staffed by two people who gave us our vaccination cards. On the dot of 1230 (yes, not 0030) the grossly overweight man behind one of the computers, leapt to his feet and announced that he couldn’t wait one minute longer for lunch because he was starving. I don’t think I was the only one who thought he could probably survive for at least 6 months by allowing his body to consume his abdominal acreage. No sooner had he left than a young woman slid into the room with her woolly scarf knotted around her hand. She looked us over and leaned in to the remaining computer operator and said in a very loud whisper, ‘I can’t stay in here.’ More whispers followed and the computer operator went off to find her a mask. In the meantime the girl’s phone rang. She answered in a small, weak voice, ‘I’m getting my Covid.’ When she identified the caller her volume increased. ‘No. I’m not doing them. I’ve already taken charge of my own education and I’ve done all those courses so you’re not getting me to do them again…..’ And thankfully, that’s when I was let loose, out into the snow.
It was lunchtime and on such a miserable day there was only one proper lunch – a nice hot pie. The cafe at the corner didn’t have pies. The dairy next door did but they looked as though they’d lava’d up and set. I could hear the owner having lunch with his family out the back and I managed to retreat before anyone came to serve me. All the way down Hoon Hay Rd I imagined the pie I’d get at the bakery. By then it was approaching 1pm (1300) so I wasn’t surprised there were free parks outside the shop. I just hoped they’d still have pies. But of course they didn’t because it was Monday wasn’t it, and they’re closed on a Monday. I went home and took off my hat and my boots and my scarf and my nice thick coat – and heated up some soup. The next day it was 15 degrees celcius. The sun was shining and I heard the wait at the vaccination centre was all of about 3 minutes.
The bakery was open as well.