“Walgreens,” observed the medical technician at a CVS in Franklin Park Tuesday, reading the vaccine card I handed him as I sat down behind the little blue screen and bared my upper right arm.
Busted, patronizing the competition. I hadn’t considered the Cubs vs. Sox, Field’s vs. Carson’s aspect of crossing from Walgreens to rival CVS for my second dose of COVID vaccine. My older son, who set up my first appointment in Springfield, shifted the second to Franklin Park. Considerate boy.
Not only a far shorter drive, but by changing, the doses were now the proper three weeks apart. Turns out Walgreens was giving the Pfizer shots a month apart, because it was easier for them to schedule. Until they were called on it and stopped.
Considering an employee of CVS was about to jab a needle in my arm, an explanation seemed in order.
“I actually prefer CVS,” I said. “Because of Nicholson Baker’s ‘The Mezzanine.’ A man breaks his shoelace and goes to a CVS to buy a new one. That’s the entire plot of the novel ...”
I tend to babble when being given a shot. (“Annnnnnd...” my wife thinks, reading this, smiling sardonically, “when NOT being given a shot ...”)
As this was happening — I didn’t even feel the needle — Vice President Kamala Harris was in Chicago, imploring “those who have received the vaccine” to “please tell all your friends and aunties and uncles and grandparents and kids” to get vaccinated.
Were it only that easy. Because you either already know to get the shot ASAP, to spare yourself an arduous, often deadly, illness, and protect your community. Or you haven’t figured it out and probably can’t. Being urged to do so will only cause you to dig in, in the knee-jerk contrariety that so many mistake for independent thought.
Did you see the government slogan, attempting to reach the vaccine resistant? “Let’s Get Vaccinated.” The heart breaks. Putting that chirpy slogan — who dreamed that one up, the Muppet Babies? — up against the widespread serf fear of doctors and the wasp nest of crazed conspiracy mongering.
My spam filter is filled with the stuff, hissing lies while picking pocket. Choose one at random, an email from “Liberty Counsel Action:”
Long before COVID showed up, a plan was hatched to steal your freedom. COVID was their springboard to get people to give up freedom for safety. Now they are pushing the greatest crackdown on freedom yet...
You know how I’d promote the vaccine among this crowd? I would create a series of caricatures of George Soros, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and others from the right wing rogue’s gallery of hate fetish objects, illustrated in the style of the cartoons from Julius Streicher’s Der Stürmer, all warts and arching noses and glittering, leering eyes. The slogan for Soros: “Vat you need vaczine for?” The tagline: “More for us.” I would tape some stark PSAs with Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos staring dead-eyed into the camera, their skin a greenish hue, commanding Americans to avoid vaccines at all cost.
That’ll get ’em lining up in Mississippi.
Or at the very least, don’t use the word “vaccine” — the far right are obsessed with what things are called. Call it “blood-purifier.”
Getting the shot didn’t hurt, I was a bit sleepy that afternoon, but couldn’t tell if that was vaccine-fueled sleepiness, or just-being-me-at-60 regular afternoon sleepiness. The first 20 percent of Americans have been vaccinated. It’s that last quarter that will be the trick, as not-my-table Republicans confuse doing whatever Fox News tells them with free-thinking liberty, and express their love of America by opting out of society and refusing to help themselves or anybody else.
The callous response would be to say, “Fine!” When they die they’ll have a change of heart, or if not, it’ll hardly matter. But that’s not the liberal way — we believe in talking people down, not greasing the ledge. Besides, putting them on ventilators is expensive.
One of the hardest lessons of the Trump era, besides realizing how freeborn Americans will, given the chance, lick the boots of demagogues, is just how godawful stupid so many of our fellow citizens truly are. You can’t fix stupid. But you can, with a few sheepdogs and a sturdy staff, guide them where we all need to go.