Whenever I go to a Wal-Mart, I am reminded that whatever you save there in dollars you eventually surrender in dignity. But it happened to be the first place with available appointments for the Covid vaccine, so my vigilant wife arose early and booked it online.
When I arrived at the appointed hour, a number of lines had already formed at the understaffed pharmacy counter. In the middle were eight chairs arranged in parallel rows, like a pretend bus.
These chairs were supposedly reserved for those who had just gotten the vaccine and were waiting the required 15 minutes to see whether or not it would kill them. But I am a cynical man, and I suspected most of the sitters had arrived way earlier and were just taking a load off.
The standing lines were comingled with people dropping off prescriptions, or picking up prescriptions, or waiting for the vaccine. No one seemed sure which line was which.
My personal rule of thumb is that whenever there is more than one line, I am standing in the wrong one. And so it was today. But eventually I was called forward, made to show documents and fill out other documents, and then was asked to follow a woman to the area where the shots were being administered.
I had expected a maze of orange cones and strict distancing protocols, but this is Florida and this is Wal-Mart. I was shown to the Ladies Intimates section. The fitting rooms, closed for Covid anyway, had been repurposed as vaccination stations.
Here were more plastic chairs, significantly less than six feet apart. The lingerie displays hadn’t been relocated, so I was seated amid the plus-size bras, between a couple of women aboard their motorized shopping carts. These women seemed to be friends, and pulled down their masks to exchange views on a variety of subjects. Behind my own mask, I gritted my teeth.
The actual shot was anticlimactic. The nurse wasn’t wearing a Wal-Mart tunic, which was reassuring. The shot didn’t hurt much, and afterward I was given one of those vaccination cards that I dearly hope will soon be a passport back to the Nation of Normalcy. I’m supposed to get the second dose in a few weeks. A month or so after that, watch out baby.
The only out-of-pocket cost was in personal dignity, which I had already factored in. Given the last year, it’s a price I’m willing to pay.