I don’t know why last March seems like it was five years ago, but there it is. Probably to do with having The Tangerine Toddler in charge, or something. Whatever.
In any case, it’s now a year – or to be more precise, a year and five days – since this shit got real for me. As I mentioned in an earlier post (from last May, I think), on March 14 last year I went into my local IHOP for breakfast. Anyone familiar with IHOP knows that on weekend mornings that means waiting for a while to get a table; those places were always really popular at weekends.
Not this time.
The place was maybe a quarter full. I walked straight in and was guided to a table well away from anyone else. Looking around, it became plain that all the customers were being seated well apart. The tables were all bare; the usual condiments and stuff just wasn’t there. I ordered steak and eggs with pancakes on the side (because that’s what the P in IHOP stands for, and IMHO there is something not quite right with people that go there and don’t order pancakes). I had to ask for everything – salt, pepper, my choice of pancake syrup, sugar for coffee – and it was all brought to the table in individual containers and bowls.
It was weird. It was the first day that COVID became a real, in-yer-face thing for me. I don’t think we were even wearing masks at that point, it was all so sudden and new. Not long after that, restaurants started closing their dining rooms or at least limiting the number of customers, and we all started getting take-out and using the drive-throughs more.
A year passed. Things happened that I’ve mentioned in prior posts so I won’t mention again right now. Election. Insurrection. More than half a million Americans dead. Anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers and COVID deniers all over (including in government). A bunch of politicians pretending to lick an irrelevant ex-president’s arse for the sake of holding on to the votes of the sad sacks that voted for said ex-president.
Yesterday – one year and four days on from Serious IHOP Day – I got my first shot of the Pfizer vaccine. Three weeks on from that, I’ll get the second shot, then two more weeks and I’ll be as protected from the virus as I can be. (No serious side-effects, by the way; my arm aches like hell and I’ve got a headache that’s been making it hard to concentrate. That’s it.)
So… four years of hell, of which the last year has been even more hellish because of having this virus laid on top. But at least the last couple of months have been more bearable, and knowing the vaccines were coming gave a sense of hope. And now, here it is. Enough vaccine for everyone. Just a matter of getting it into arms, and those logistics are improving too.
People are still dying, but the sooner we can get everyone vaccinated the fewer deaths there will be. That’s small consolation, I know, but it’s what the previous administration left us with.
My biggest worry is that the deniers and the anti-vax crowd will cause us to not reach herd immunity like we have with other vaccinations like flu and measles. If that happens we might well have to carry on wearing masks and there’ll be an increased chance of a new, vaccine-tolerant variant coming along. But as they say, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Maybe some of the deniers and antis will realize they’re being selfish and they’ll do the right thing for the sake of others. Maybe that’ll be enough to make the difference. Normality is possible – but I think it’s going to take all of us to make it happen.