Well, yippee. I am all protected against H1N1 now. I volunteered to help with the flu clinic downtown this morning, in exchange for a shot of the liquid gold. This was in spite of a horrendous dream I had where it turned out that that the shots actually had some sort of cancer in them and those who got them were all gonna die.
I arrived at the volunteer station at the butt crack of dawn. The tables were already set up for the most part and the visiting nurses were all set in place to administer shots. My job, along with about 50 other medical staff, was to go out into the masses and make sure that everyone had their paperwork done and weed out those who were "fakers."
Of course, this was silly. We were told that if an adult said that they had any health condition that warranted a shot, we were to take their word. So, I'm fairly sure that many people got in who were not at risk, but that is best left alone, I think. Let them battle with their conscience, if they need to.
I felt a surge of panic when the door opened and a mob of people came spilling in. They looked like they meant business. The nurse in my office, Gina, was there with me and she and I looked at each other and grinned.
"Just think of it as a really crazy day at work," she advised. I nodded and set to work.
I headed to my appointed place and began working the crowd. First, I was to ask them if they had their paperwork. A surprising number of people did not. This gave me pause. The forms were easily downloadable from the internet but only a handful of people had seemed to do that. There were just as many adults as children and I told myself to put myself in their shoes. I mean, I am an adult at risk, so I was one of them.
I went up to my first person, an older woman with a shock of gray hair and a kind smile. That smile disappeared the SECOND I asked her if she was at risk.
"Bloody right I am!" she told me, "There are tons of kids in my neighborhood and I don't want to give them anything if I get sick."
I looked at her. Give me a break. She was a healthy adult with no risk factors. But...we were told that when in doubt, let them get the vaccine. Since she was one of the few who had her paperwork ready, I just glanced at it, asked the obligatory questions about allergies and then told her that she was eligible for the mist.
She looked as though she might deck me. "I AIN'T gettin' no mist, lady," she said. "Gimme the shot."
I sighed and circled the shot on her sheet.
I went on to a woman who was pregnant who was with 3 children under the age of 8. No question. She and her family needed the flu shots. One of her children, though, a little girl about the age of five, was coughing violently and kept swiping her nose with the back of her hand. I pointed her out to the mother. Said that since her daughter was quite obviously ill, she should not be vaccinated at this time.
The mother looked me dead in the eye. "She has allergies," she said, her face reddening slightly.
Her 8 year old son spoke up.
"Grandma told you that Emma shouldn't go because she's sick, Mom. She got to stay home from kindergarten yesterday and she wasn't faking!"
The mother smiled dangerously at him. "Paulson, shut the hell up," she said. He shut up. I reminded her that it was very dangerous to get a flu shot when one was ill. She repeated that her daughter had allergies.
I gave her a long look. She wasn't going to back down. I shook my head and handed her back her paperwork.
Dumb as a fuckin' doorknob....
A huge woman came lumbering up to me. "I wanna lodge a complaint," she squawked. I raised my eyebrow at her. "Them thar people up thar? The ones who're actin' like god damn monkeys? Well, they just let about ten people cut in front of everyone to stand wid dem. They're all black and I think it's a race thang."
I looked over at the group she was pointing at. Two of the children were in a death grip wrestling match. One of the kid's faces was almost blue black. His eyes looked ready to pop out of his head. I went over and broke them up. The mother gave me a push. "You leave your white ass hands OFF my kids!" she warned me.
The huge tattletaling woman came up behind me. She jutted her chin out. "Y'all just let a bunch of people cut in line," she yelped. Her voice was high and shrill.
The black woman shrugged. "They was parkin' the fuckin' car," she answered.
The huge woman looked at me. "You buyin' that shit?" she asked.
I said I was. Told her to please get back in her place in line.
"Chicken," she muttered at me as she slunk back.
I took a deep breath. Well, this was more than I bargained for. I glanced at my watch. Only two more hours to go. Great.
I did my best to get everyone ready for their shots and mists. But, it seemed as if everyone had gotten up on the crabby ass side of the bed today. And why did I seem to get all the people with no teeth and poor grammar? People from every race, every size and shape and I get the crazy ones.
Finally, I was told to keep order in the front of the line. That job was much easier. People were close to getting their shots and they just wanted to get the hell through the line. If I had asked them to stand on one foot and stick out their tongues, they would have complied.
I saw a small little girl all dressed in yellow sitting quietly on the floor with her mother, waiting. The mother was reading a book to her. I stood behind them and looked down and smiled as I saw a familiar picture in the book.
It showed a rag doll laying in a half frozen mud puddle with a little girl in pioneer garb standing over her.
My smile broadened. The mother looked up at me.
I pointed to the book.
"One of the Little House books?" I asked.
She nodded. The little girl smiled up at me. "Laura found Charlotte!" she told me, exultant.
I nodded. "My little girl loved that part," I told her. "Those are wonderful books!"
It was their turn, so I pointed them to the next table, they got up, grabbing the book and went off to get vaccinated.
I thought about that book, that drawing. Nobody illustrates quite like Garth Brooks. Liv was never a huge fan of The Little House books and that had stung. I had purchased the entire set when she was an infant and had greatly looked forward to reading them to her, but when it came time, she mostly humored me.
I had ADORED the story of Laura and Pa and Ma and Mary and Jack and the big woods, the banks of plum creek....
Liv yawned her way through them.
It was one of those mother times when I felt as if my own child had sucker punched me. How DARE she not love those books as much as I did when I was little? And it went on, Liv was not even marginally interested in Betsy, Tacy and Tib either.
But, I had remembered the part in the book where Ma gives Charlotte, Laura's rag doll, to the ever naughty Anna, a bratty toddler and next door neighbor. She figured that Laura was too old for dolls. Well, she wasn't. She pined for Charlotte, wept for her. And then when you thought that all hope was lost, she had found her, in a half frozen mud puddle, unceremoniously dumped by the heartless Anna.
It was one of the few parts of the book that Liv had responded to. She had been aghast that Ma would do that to Laura. Wept along with Laura as she pined for her doll baby. And then, did a somersault of joy on her bed when Laura saved her from an untimely death in a mud puddle.
I remembered sitting in the rocker and watching Liv do her clumsy four year old somersaults, always leaning slightly to the left. And smiling.
A good memory.
I thought back to those Laura Ingalls Wilder books, still grouped in our book shelves in order. I wondered if I should give them to the local library, let some other little girl discover Laura and Charlotte. I'd have to check with Liv first, of course. Because I didn't want to be like Ma and do something and then realize that it was done hastily and with no heart.
I shook my head, pushing the memory back into the back of my head and continued working.
It was finally over. On the way home, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up almond extract, maraschino cherries, and white vanilla chips. I called home. Bing answered. She and Liv had just finished breakfast. I asked her to put Liv on. She did.
"Hi, honey lamb."
"Did you get your shot?"
"Yes. Hey, I'm on the way home with some baking ingredients to make some Cherry vanilla chip cookies to send to Sven. Want to help me bake?"
I was hopeful, but braced myself. At age ten, Liv is no longer my baking sidekick. She sometimes wants to help, sometimes not. I needed her to want to help today.
She squealed. Good sign.
She said yes, happily. I took a deep breath.
"Livvy, do you remember when Laura lost Charlotte, the rag doll in The Little House books?"
She said that oh, yes, she sure did. Hey, did I want to read together out of them today? Maybe just a chapter or two while the cookies were baking, before the Huskers game?
I felt my smile cracking my face.
YES! All was well. My flu shot was inside of me, I was away from all those idiotic people and now I got to go home and bake cookies with Liv and read all about Charlotte and Nellie Oleson and plum creek and playing in the hay and Jack the bull dog.
And then, the Husker game.
I rubbed my aching back at a stop light.
Life is sweet on this stray Saturday in November. Things would get crazy soon. Thanksgiving was coming. My sister's family is coming and her daughters, my nieces, will be staying at my house for the holiday. So much cleaning to do...but, leave that for another day. Today was a day for cookie baking and being with Liv. Maybe I would talk Bing into taking us out for pizza tonight at Zios.
Time to head home. At last.