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Maybe All I Need Is a Shot in the Arm đź’‰

MidRange
Maybe All I Need Is a Shot in the Arm đź’‰
By Ernie Smith • Issue #24 • View online
On fighting with pharmacy websites in an effort to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Editor’s note: Yesterday, we had some issues with sending the newsletter, and it only reached a small part of our audience. Sorry about that. We hope things are fixed today. In case you wanted to read yesterday’s issue, it’s here.

(Jon Tyson/Unsplash)
(Jon Tyson/Unsplash)
It’s weird, but the pandemic was finally getting to me last week in ways it hadn’t in quite a while. I think the months of being largely stuck inside my house, surviving by staring at a computer and doing a whole lot of writing and a whole lot of internet, were finally starting to add up.
I have started to feel increasingly unfocused in recent days, in part because of all this stuff happening in the broader world—which was sort of how I felt at the beginning of pandemic, too, where I turned to random pieces of pop culture as something of a release. But optimism was starting to feel a little distant, even as good things were happening elsewhere in my professional life.
Perhaps it’s the fact that the one-year mark of this virus forcing us all inside was hitting. The sadness and the stress that came with that. And the fact that nothing was really changing.
The vaccines seem like the only hope for a return to normalcy. But vaccines, too, felt hopeless for a while. Like the disease itself, it first emerged as something distant and a mere rumor. Then it became something kept at arm’s distance by a series of bungling parties—first, by the federal government, then by the state, then the private sector. People are literally hacking their own because the alternatives suck so much.
But now, finally, it’s reaching actual people I know. Maybe one of those people might be me?
(Andre Hunter/Unsplash)
(Andre Hunter/Unsplash)
If only the process of signing up for the vaccine wasn’t also a significant buzzkill. A signup process from the state government felt like a black box, and pharmacies were no better. I think the part that made me feel the most bummed out was when I find myself repeatedly reloading the Rite Aid website last week in hopes of getting an appointment. (Specifically, Rite Aid—I only met the qualifications for the vaccine with Rite Aid, and nowhere else.)
The process was shockingly similar to trying to buy a modern-day GPU—you’d go to a website, keep reloading, and hope that your combination of timing and clicking would get you through to an appointment, beating whatever bots are trying to screw up the process. Even if it was 35 miles away and would take an hour and a half to get there in rush hour, you would still try to do it. If only the opportunity would show itself.
I kept hoping I could beat the Rite Aid system. I went into web inspector on my web browser of choice and looked at the API calls to see if I could do something, anything, to get a little closer to the front of the line. I didn’t understand why VaxxMax showed openings at the Rite Aid within walking distance of my house, but not the Rite Aid website. 
I was doing some weird things to that website; I’m sure if I had to wait much longer, I would have found a way to hack myself in.
At one point I was so distressed about this FOMO that I ended up going to bed at like 8 o’clock at night, stressed and frustrated.
Wilco-"A Shot in the Arm" from "Summerteeth"
Wilco-"A Shot in the Arm" from "Summerteeth"
But then, by sheer randomness, I woke up at midnight, and decided to give Walgreens a shot, rather than Rite Aid. Walgreens had just started accepting my vaccine class, and I don’t know if it was good timing or what, but I managed to get a vaccine appointment at a reasonable time of day—near my house. I didn’t think it would even be possible.
I don’t know if getting this shot, the first of two, will make me feel any better about the current moment, or will help me to focus any more. But what I do know is that getting that appointment was the best I had felt in weeks.
I don’t know how the shot itself will make me feel. But that felt like hope.
Time limit given ⏲: 30 minutes
Time left on clock ⏲: 56 seconds
If you like this, be sure to check out more of my writing at Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.
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Ernie Smith

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