“it costs $0.00 to be a decent human being,” the meme read on my niece’s page. i took a screenshot of it, not unlike the screenshots i have taken over the last year, these times unparalleled, this era of pandemic.
scrolling through these images on my desktop just now, i am gobsmacked at the limitless spectrum, a country-full of schizophrenic views, passionate opinions, factoids and untruths. i read things like, “i pray we are not going to have any kind of required coronavirus vaccine!” and “people in countries whose leaders told them the truth about covid didn’t ‘panic’. they responded. and as a result, far fewer of them died.” i read “my face, my choice!” and “masks can be worn to protect the wearer from getting infected or masks can be worn to protect others from being infected by the wearer.” i read “i’ll pee in my end of the pool if i want to” and “when you choose to act out of kindness, compassion, and love, you are already aligned with your true purpose.” a country divided into primary colors kaleidoscoping about the galaxy on planet earth, people-as-crayons all given a spot in the earth-crayola-box simply by being born, yet arguing with achromatic abandon.
on a frigid february day we got the call. all was frozen after the skies had dropped many inches of snow on our town. it was a friday. it was 4:35 and there were two vaccines left, about to expire. the overburdened-yet-infinitely-kind community health center asked if we could come immediately. we were on a waiting list for anytime there was a vaccine that might go to waste – something to be avoided at all measures. we dropped everything and jumped in the truck. they called us while we were on the way there, to make sure we were really coming, to make sure we would arrive in time.
the drive-through lane at the old bank was marked with cones. as directed, we pulled into the spot at cone #1. there was no time to be nervous – about having a shot, about the side effects of the vaccine, about any long-term ramifications. there was just this unbelievably fortunate opportunity to be decent human beings in a world raging with disease and dying. the windows of big red were frozen-shut, so, with masks on, we opened the driver and passenger doors to exuberant nurses dressed in layers upon layers of clothing, gratitude our common denominator. we were vaccines #199 and 200 that day. it cost us nothing. zero.
i couldn’t help but hope, as we got our second vaccine at cone #3 on a slightly warmer day, soon fully inoculated because of vast medical and scientific research, the proud new recipients of a wait-15-minutes-vaccine-flag, that maybe kindness and compassion and a sense of community responsibility, the brother’s/sister’s-keeper-thing, was an ingredient and that the immune systems of humans everywhere, in protecting against covid, would also be stimulated to push back against all things peeing-in-the-poolish.