I open the mailbox every day hoping I'll see a letter from the state of Minnesota. Usually that means you did something wrong, and they finally noticed. But now we wait for our vaccine instructions.
In a perfect world, we would get this:
"Hello, citizen. You are 197,045th in line. At current vaccination rates, you should expect the first vaccination between 2 and 3:30 p.m. on May 11. Your vaccination station is listed below. Your vaccine ID code is 197JRL. If you have any questions, please visit minnesota.com."
What I fear I will get: A brochure that has a title like "Let's Roll Up Our Sleeves, MN!" It will come with a cartoon picture of some stylized human only slightly more complex than the guy on the walk-don't-walk traffic signal, giving a thumbs up as a nurse drives an oversized spike into his arm. Inside, there are questions and answers:
Q: When will it be my turn?
A: We can't say for sure. It depends on the availability of the vaccine, your age and your status in the social order. It doesn't look hopeful right now, but periodically unexpected surpluses in vaccine stocks might mean that you will get a chance. You then will have to go online and perform the digital equivalent of clawing over a mass of your neighbors, people with whom you were friendly the day before, fighting for the last loaf of bread.
Q: I've heard some people call it a "poke," and others call it a "jab." Which is correct, and can I use the terms interchangeably?
A: Use whatever word makes you feel comfortable! Using different names will not invalidate the vaccine's effectiveness.
Q: Where will I be vaccinated?
A: In a small, white room with posters on the wall. If you have any other questions, feel free to visit our website, where we offer a wide range of rhetorical FAQs.
To tell you the truth, I'm not in a hurry to get a shot. Do the grocery store workers first. Retail people. Warehouse workers. I've gone this far without getting the miserable bug, so I'm doing something right. It's all habit now; I'm so used to using hand sanitizer after my shopping errands that now I do it after ordering something online. I don't think I've touched my face since April. (I bought a Styrofoam human head so I can stroke its chin when I'm feeling thoughtful.) I mostly stick to depopulated areas, like downtown.
But sooner would be better. I cannot wait to ditch the mask and sneeze in public again. Just let 'er rip, like a whale breaching the surface of the ocean and gusting out a great proud plume!
I'm kidding. But you know what I mean. The sooner we return to the maskless norm, the happier we'll be. On the cold days my mask makes my glasses steam up when I enter a building, and since I often chew a mint because I had a chili dog for lunch and don't want that redolence recirculating, my eyes tear up from the Altoids fumes. I get in the elevator blind and weeping, like I just staggered out of a World War I trench after a gas attack.
It just seems as if they could pretend to know when it would be my turn. Here's an idea: Take all the people in charge of figuring out if you did your taxes correctly and set them to the task of informing people about their shot dates.
OK, a man can dream.
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