Saturday, October 31, 2009

More Public Assistance

After waiting semi-patiently for six months, trying to stay calm as I read every New York Times article about the dangers of swine flu in pregnant women, I got vaccinated today—a week before my due date. When Dr. Husband and I arrived in the little town of Snohomish at 8am, an hour before the clinic opened, we were maybe 150th in line. Everyone was in good spirits, in part because it wasn’t raining, in part because it feels really good to cross something off your to-do list that’s been languishing there for half a year, and in part because we were 150th in line, not 3,000th. The woman in line in front of us who was holding a spot for her 3 and 4 year-olds offered me her portable chair and didn’t shun us when I confessed we’d snuck in from Seattle. It was like a little taste of Iowa right here in chilly, grey Western Washington.

The event was the most well-organized government-sponsored activity I’ve ever witnessed. “Hey, is that guy handing out barbecue?” I asked, only slightly surprised when I saw a man in a black t-shirt with a pig’s face on the front working the line.

It turns out he was part of the Swine Flu Brigade handing out consent forms—not an employee of the BBQ Shack down the street handing out snacks—but still, no other county in the state has gotten swine flu vaccine to the public, and this place had their shit so together they’d made matching t-shirts!

When the man in the pig shirt came to our section of the line, someone asked whether there was a charge for the vaccine. The questioner was assured that the vaccine was free, whereupon the man behind me deadpanned, “That sounds like Socialism. I insist on paying someone.”

The scene had an air of festivity, from the take-a-number carnival tickets they handed out to the huge box of cheapo toy prizes for the kids. Often when someone’s number was called, they would cry out “Bingo!” and the whole crowd would chuckle. Every single time.

It was American Socialism at its very best.

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