April 17, 2021
I might have flashed my rather pretty left breast to all in the supercenter’s pharmacy. At least it felt that way. Technicially, my bosom was clothed in a rather bedazzled brassiere. Even though I had no intention of any action nearing such exhibitionism, in the moment I could not have cared less.
Inventory at the store was less than a week away. My workday was only half complete. All of management was engulfed in preparation for the coming event. Yes, the inventory metric is a test, but it is also the reset. I had been looking forward to that feeling of the result, no matter what it was. Inventory is like cleaning the closet except that the quantity of items in the closet number close to half million in variety.
It was supper hour a week ago Friday. I had time enough to pause. Not enough time for a meal nor was I interested in sitting down, but I had time to think.
“Have a good night,” one of the managers greeted me as she finished her last piece of a project. We both paused on the store interior corner of ballpoint pens and DVD’s.
“You too,” I responded.
We teased each other about the movies we wanted to see and what would it be like to go to the theater. She teased me about my fascination with the recent re-do of King Kong and Godzilla movies. I had imagined plopping down in a movie theater seat with a giant tub of movie theater popcorn and an equally superb diet soda. It would be a fulfilling indulgement in a feast of special effects with an incredibly silly, wornout tale.
But it would be a giant Kong and a giant Godzilla. All the movie needed was subtitles and I would be over the moon. To me, it would have been symbolic to relish in an experience which has been stalled this past year. And one which I took for granted.
She and I are almost the same age. We casually compare notes on each other’s health and well-being in an interesting phenomenom that I am not used to. I like the conversations.
“Have you gotten your shot yet?” she asked.
“No, not yet,” I replied. “I wanted to go with my mom, do it together with her. Now I am thinking I want to get it as soon as possible.”
As of that date, our store had been administering the COVID vaccination for five days. As employees, we could call or register online for appointments. It had been rumored that we could also put our names on a waiting list as there seemed to be leftover doses each day. These doses would be destroyed if not administered.
“I am going right after inventory,” she added with her usual sensibilities. “Just in case I have a reaction.”
“Yep, probably a good plan. I think I will ask about the waiting list. I have been so lucky with the pandemic and everything. My mom is not sick and family is well.”
“Me too. I don’t want to wait too long either.” And she drifted into a recap of the status of her projects.
“Have a good night, Steph.”
“You too,” I called out as I continued to walk the store.
I walked past the ballpoint pens, through the small appliances and coffeemaker aisle. As much as I wanted to get vaccinated with my mom, I really wanted to not be able to infect her or anyone else. I bargained with myself as I walked the aisles.
“If it’s available, get vaccinated,” I urged myself.
But it was inventory time. “Control yourself, Steph,” I reprimanded myself. “Wait.”
At the time I walked near the pharmacy, the lines were just starting. One of the technicians called to me just as I was about to greet her.
I walked to the counter. “Hi.”
“Say, I was wondering about the waiting list. Could I put my name on the list? Do I register online first?”
She smiled with a reply that I considered a sign from the Fates themselves.
“Do you want to do it today?”
“Yes,” I replied without hesitation.
“Do you want to do it now?”
“Now?” I stammered. “Now, now?”
Dear Lord, she was happy. “Steph, I had two cancellations. I have two vaccines that will be wasted. I have one of them rescheduled, but I have one left.”
My eyes began to tear. I tried to stop, but I began to cry.
She talked me through the questionnaire then handed to me what seemed like a document with the same questions. I needed to physically complete it. Checkmarks and initials, then I needed to wait. Now there were more patients in her line. I ducked behind the fabric walled cubby which was used for vaccinations.
I prayed. Please G~d, do not let me get sick. I do not want to be sick. I do not want to make anyone else sick. But please, I do not want to get sick before inventory. Please.
The pharmacist arrived with the vaccine. I had heard stories about the size of needle, but the metal point was covered. From the size of the plastic cap, it seemed no larger than any other needle. The pharmacist himself is a kindly and knowledgable individual who speaks with a similar manner in a broken English accent reminiscent of another continent. It was at that moment that I realized I did not have a proper shirt for a vaccination.
My shirt was a fitted, long sleeved, stretchy denim number. While it looks wonderful with my work vest, it does not function for exposing one’s arm for vaccination. He closed the barricade a bit, busying himself while disrobed, at least halfway.
I slipped off my vest to hold to my chest. I unbuttoned my shirt, slipping out my left arm. Half my brassiered chest was now exposed to the supercenter world. I thanked good providence that at least I had a beautful blue, lacy, ultra-feminine foundation garment with which to expose myself.
Still, it was not the image of professionalism I wished to leave linger, there at the pharmacy of the supercenter.
He spoke through the application of the circle bandage upon my upper left arm. We talked through the application of the vaccine. I began to cry. I surprised myself at my emotional reaction. I recognized the look of alarm on his face. But true to form, the harder a person tries to suppress emotions, the harder they seem to leak out.
“My mom,” I whispered to him.
“For a year, she has been out twice,” I explained. “I am her only regular contact. For a year I prayed I would not make her ill.”
“Thank you so much. This is my family’s health.”
“Thank you,” I whispered to the technician as I buttoned up.
The tears shocked me. Maybe at the feeling itself and the truth of the matter. The vaccination felt like the first proactive step since the pandemic began. Yes, I worked to protect the store and enforce regulations. Yes, I believe in masks. No, I refuse to entwine politics into global health matters. No, I refuse to entwine religious thought into the science of viruses. (Although I do believe in the power of prayer).
But I also have learned that one cannot mistakenly refuse to acknowledge the intermingling of politics, religion, social economics and global health.
And if nothing else matters and if I had to be but one advocate it would be this: G~d does not dole out pandemics and epidemics as some statement or judgement of wrath. Ugh. My ‘belief’ in masks has nothing to do with anything. Such statements are…
Please, follow the science. G~d gave you a brain. And a soul. Use them. Entwine them.
My life though, is not meant for soapbox statements of mass consumptions. Nope.
I let myself cry as I walked through the backroom storage shelves. I grabbed my water from the office, then continued with my evening. I no longer felt like I was the walking petrie dish, exposing my dear family to a virus. I felt proactive.
One Dose of J Vaccine.
In the days to follow, my joy turned a bit apprehensive as the news of blood clots surfaced. Six cases in 6.8 million doses had developed rare, severe blood clots. One case was fatal. What do I do with that news?
First, I lie to my mother. Sorry, but any good daughter knows that lying to ones mother might be the calmest survival approach for both of us. Second, the news caused me to look at my health. I am middle aged and in excellent health.
But just like those fluffy movies of giant Kong and Godzilla, I took a lot for granted. I took my health seriously for granted. I needed to change.
Just as the seasons, maybe I will really listen to the wind this time.
Love, Blessings and a kiss to boot! (giggle..)
ps. Fashion tip #1. Wear a nice brassiere. And undies. Foundation garments. Your foundations should be really nice.