A Shot At Normalcy

The word link, when used as a verb, means to connect two or more things together. It is used as a noun when we speak of the links in a chain. At one time I gave little thought to the word. No longer!

These days, when I attempt to get to some site on the computer (no, I do not own an iPad) and I’m instructed to “just go to the link and follow the directions,” I go into panic mode. Sometimes I find what I want and sometimes I do not. After several futile attempts, my solution is always to call the most tech-savvy of my daughters or my tech-savvy friend, Amy. They often say, “Relax, I’ll do it for you.” Those words are music to my ears.

I am not alone in my problem with links. Many people are having problems with the links that are supposed to help us make COVID-19 vaccine appointments. We are not intellectually challenged people. We are professionals, we are college-educated, we have raised children, and we have successfully navigated through a sometimes-challenging life. Our problem is that the world became computerized and forced seniors to learn new skills as well as new terminology. Let me rephrase. Seniors is an inaccurate description. Our children are seniors; we fall into the category known as the elderly, a word I have come to dislike, almost as much as I now dislike the word link.

Attempting to make online appointments for a vaccination is a horror! Phones are ringing off the hook as friends call one another and blurt out, “Can you do it? Because I can’t!” Many of the elderly are desperate to get an appointment but, because it is so difficult to do, they have to resort to asking their children or grandchildren to do it for them. I had to ask my daughter to do it for me. Is our governor (that would be the Emmy-winning King Cuomo) asleep at the switch? Early on, he claimed that the elderly need to be vaccinated, and then he made it almost impossible for us to make an appointment.

Is he unaware that many septuagenarians and octogenarians don’t have computers? And half of those who do have computers don’t know how to navigate through the sites! I still haven’t recovered from the stress of trying to make my first appointment two weeks ago. Why not allow appointments to be made by phone, just as we do when we need to see a doctor or a dentist? Even those who don’t have a computer surely have a telephone. This is one of those times when the old-fashioned way of doing things works best.

E-mails fly back and forth as friends try to help each other by sending an e-mail with a link that will take them to a site that allows an appointment to be made. What follows is a description of my own experience. I clicked on a link. It directed me to fill out the form that appeared. A verification code was provided. I was instructed to enter it into the space provided. I entered the number. The message that appeared was: Invalid Verification Code. I resisted the urge to reach for a tranquilizer. They were the ones who had given me that code!

Another verification code was sent to me in an e-mail. That one was also invalid. I refused to give up. Gnashing my teeth, I went back to my e-mail to see yet another code. This one, too, was invalid! I quit after that third try because a friend told me that she had tried four times and then received a message informing her that, because she had made too many attempts, another verification code would not be provided.

That message was the only thing about the experience that was clear to her and to me. She was being told to get lost. I didn’t make a fourth attempt because nobody was going to tell me to get lost! Ultimately, her son made the appointment for her, but neither of us can figure out how he was able to do it. Was there some misogyny here? Did they like him better than they liked us? I didn’t have to ask my daughter for help the next time because she was way ahead of me. She called and said that she had made my second appointment. I was on cloud ten. Cloud nine didn’t seem high enough for how I felt.

Immediately after receiving my first shot, I felt a sense of euphoria. The feeling lasted all of 15 seconds before I snapped out of it and remembered that this was only step one and that nothing about my life was going to change very soon. The lady manning the front desk explained that I would need to wait four weeks to get the second shot and after that it would be three weeks until there would be 95 percent protection. I was happy about that until I spoke to my son who immediately rained on my parade by reminding me that 95 percent is not 100 percent. He begged me not to let my guard down. Actually, he didn’t beg, he insisted!

I am glad that I received the first shot and that I have an appointment to get the second one. Some people have been unable to get an appointment even for the first shot. Even worse, several who had an appointment were subsequently notified that their appointment had been canceled. A lucky few were inoculated at places where they were given a second appointment right then so there was no need for them to do anything further. And others, without even having made an appointment, simply went to places where the vaccine was being given, were admitted inside, and got the shot.

There is no rhyme or reason about what is happening in New York. Many people think that the system is overwhelmed and has simply shut down. It’s unclear if that is indeed the case but, if it is, I will say that I am also overwhelmed; I just don’t plan to shut down. The latest and most frightening news is that some places are running out of the vaccine.

When I went for my first injection, I had to show proof of age and nothing more. On the same day, my sister received her injection somewhere else and the only thing she had to show was the printed copy of her appointment. Nobody asked for identification showing proof of age. My cousin, who got her injection at yet a third facility, was asked only if she was an essential worker. Obviously, the questions that are being asked depend on who is doing the asking. I’m glad I wasn’t asked if I was an essential worker because I might have considered answering yes; I think that teaching mahjong and canasta is essential.

Here in New York, the rollout of the vaccine gives new meaning to the word chaos. My late Hubby would have said that this is hefker! Once again, King Cuomo has botched things up. Maybe he’s too busy writing his book or polishing his Emmy statue to see to it that the rollout of the vaccine is going smoothly. As of now, it is not! Hopefully, by the time this is in print, he will have straightened everything out. It is doubtful, but one can always hope. That’s just the way it is.

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and gives private small-group lessons in mahjong and canasta. She can be reached at Savtahannah@aol.com or 516-295-4435. Read more of Hannah Berman’s articles on 5TJT.com.

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