First Vaccine Shot

Oregon Convention Center. Noonish. I am struck by the suffusing camaraderie all around me. It is like the air in the room. I am also struck by the utter stupidity and callousness of those people who don’t believe in what all of us are doing here and other places around America: getting a shot to halt a pandemic. Practicing good public health, not ideology.

I have 15 minutes to wait in this chair to see if I develop any side effects. I look around the cavernous space and see I am the only one writing in longhand. A few stare straight ahead. Lots of fiddling on phones. One elderly woman reads a fat novel. I’d give her 50 bucks to know the title.

Not a single knitter!

It occurs to me that I did a couple Wordstock literary gigs here 13,14 or 15 years ago. They all uniformly sucked because of the terrible sound and cold industrial ambiance. I ran several Nestucca Spit Press booths at Wordstock as well. I was hawking my various Oregon books and once got to hang out at the table with one of the great lost loves of my life. She sold more of my books than I did with her aggressive marketing pitch. I sure could use that energy to sell books these days.

Shit, I just remembered I also brought my students from Taft High School to Wordstock one year and paid their way in!

I was here a week ago helping Dad get his first shot and we were both impressed by how smoothly the process ran. Everyone here working or volunteering or on duty is incredibly friendly and efficient.

I see an old doctor giving shots. He must have come out of retirement to assist.

It occurs to me as I write this that it’s not often we get to participate in a large-scale historical event in a positive, pro-active. Why can’t 30-percent of the population grasp the obvious significance of this? How come they have no concept of the larger community good? This isn’t like not wearing your seat belt as a protest against totalitarian government. (Remember those days?)

Four minutes to go. I don’t feel any different, meaning physically from the shot. But I do feel a sense of elation and pride for being a responsible citizen. How often do you get to feel that in America anymore? The thrill of voting left me a long, long time ago. Tree planting does it for me, but that’s been about it in recent years. Volunteering at animal shelters, too.

I think I’ll celebrate my act of simple citizenship with a beer in a dive joint. Doubtless inside the joint, someone will be bitching about the virus and the vaccine, the great liberal hoax of it all. Maybe I’ll send them a drink over compliments of an American citizen. The good shit, too. Not swill.

They’d never get it.

It occurs to me that my arm doesn’t even hurt after the shot. I see a metaphor in that.