I am enormously frustrating to talk to right now. I had always assumed this was true, of course — I have witnesses who will gladly attest to its truth — but it turns out that people love to talk about COVID vaccines, and I have, with intent and purpose, avoided information on this topic. 

Here is what I knew about the vaccine the last time I wrote in these pages: I wanted it as soon as possible, and I didn’t want to have to make any decisions about it. I don’t want to think about medical things generally. I want to pay a medical person to do this homework for me. 

So far this system has worked. I have friends and family who registered for dozens of vaccine locators and exchanged tips about what pharmacy to loiter in near closing time and had put real thought into strategies about how best to convince a Jewel cashier that they were a health-care worker who was over 65 with cofactors. Me, I just ignored all of it, and March 12 I got an email from her with a link to make an appointment. I did, and I went to get the shot on March 16.

When I tell folks this, the first question is usually, “Which one did you get?” I tell them “The first one I could.” I cannot imagine a circumstance in which I would have passed on a vaccine due to the brand on offer that day. It would have felt like declining bottled water after a crawl across the desert because it was the wrong brand. I suspect the reason the question is asked is to give the questioner the opportunity to either bless the “choice” or raise an eyebrow in an expression of dismay.

That’s my experience of most follow-up questions to mundane matters. “How’d you come to choose that car model/cat food/internet provider/etc.?” is there to allow the asker to either express satisfaction that I chose correctly or to make me doubt my own decision because it disagrees with something they read while out looking for information they didn’t need. I don’t need to pick up that psychosis through casual contact with readers of shared articles, so I don’t participate. I know there are three vaccine options, and I know one of them is one shot, and I did not get that one. (I think it was unavailable when I got my first of two.) I also know the second shot is more likely to kick my ass than the first one.   

So I got to Rush Oak Park at 3:25 for a 3:30 shot and I was processed and injected in less time than it usually takes the medical system to validate parking. Why can’t we do medical things like this all the time? Walk in, say what you need, get it, leave. No waiting 58 minutes in an examining room. No 14-page forms that I fill out every time I go. No credit check or background check or whatever it is “Registration” does. Just flash an ID and get the quick hit. It was five times faster than getting a flu shot. C’mon, America. 

It was weird to have gotten it. A little pinch and this weird year was six weeks away from being over. Dreamlike, really; that was it? It’s over? 

I think the whole pandemic could wind up like that in a couple years. Like the Cubs’ World Series victory, COVID-19 is headed for a universal sense of “Did that really happen?” America will reminisce about it not because we miss it, but as reassurance that it wasn’t all a dream.

My second shot is this week. By May 7, I expect to be able to behave more or less normally.

(Whatever that is.)

Alan Brouilette writes a column for our sister publication, the Forest Park Review.

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