Peter Altschul, MS Copyright 2021
August 22, 2021
At 6:45 on a breezy mid-April morning, Rick and I stood at the back of a small line of people ready to pour into Faurot Field, the home of University of Missouri Tigers football. I was there to get my first shot to strengthen my immunity against the COVID-19 virus. Rick had picked me up from my apartment 15 minutes earlier and would guide me through the process.
“Does he have a mask?” an employee barked in harried tones.
“Yes!” I shot back, removing a cloth contraption from my shorts’ left front pocket and covering my face. I shuffled my flip-flop covered feet, shivering slightly.
“We’re moving,” Rick told me. I latched onto his left elbow and we hurried through the door and around a genteel obstacle course, stopping to answer a question here, handing in a form there, and offering my photo ID elsewhere. Then, we strode to the elevator where a staff member pushed the correct button for the passengers.
“Health precaution,” we were told.
“Nice service,” someone commented.
“Hello,” the jabber said after Rick and I completed another shorter obstacle course. “How are you this morning?”
“Fine,” I said as Rick guided me to a chair.
“Any questions about the vaccine?” she asked as I sat down.
“No, but I would appreciate it if you would alert me when you are ready to give me the shot.”
She bustled about. “No problem.” She rolled up the left sleeve of the T-shirt I was wearing and swabbed disinfectant around the area where the jab would take place while describing what she was doing.
“Ready?” she asked.
Something crinkled nearby. “Good. I’m putting on a band-aid.”
“Wait! You gave me the shot?”
She slapped the band-aid in place. “Yes.”
Rick and I chatted with someone trying to decide whether to play a round of golf later that day while waiting 15 minutes to make sure something horrible didn’t happen to me. Then, to the elevator where a staff member pressed the correct button, out to the street, into Rick’s car, and back to my apartment.
As I was preparing to get on my treadmill an hour later, I became violently thirsty, but after guzzling several glasses of water, I experienced no other symptoms except a dull ache in my left shoulder as I ran on the treadmill, tutored student-athletes, and played drums as part of a jazz trio.
At 6:45 AM on a calm, mild morning two weeks later, Rick and I stood at the back of another line of people ready to pour into Faurot Field. I was there to get my second jab. The obstacle courses were similar, and the second jabber was as empathetically efficient as her colleague — but we had to push the correct buttons in the elevator.
Thirty minutes later, I was back in my apartment where I continued packing my belongings in preparation for a move to the bottom floor of a house two miles down the road scheduled to take place two days later after running on my treadmill and tutoring student athletes. At around 4 PM, I lay down for what I thought would be a two-hour nap, waking up six hours later to a jangling phone.
Somehow, I slept-walked my way through the move, thanks in large part to the patient efficiency of those who lugged possessions out of the apartment and into the house. I unpacked boxes, connected to the Internet, and recorded a podcast while yawning incessantly. I was fine and mostly moved in three days later.
Since then, I have continued my work with that jazz trio and fulfilled a PR contract while befriending a standard poodle and trying to find patterns within the political and social chaos around me.
Ten days ago, someone forced a swab into my left nostril to test for the COVID-19 virus. The results were negative; I feel fortunate.
I wish getting vaccinated was not so wrapped up with tribalism. I hope we in the United States can withdraw more gracefully from Afghanistan and find ways to influence things for the better from a distance.