Thursday, February 18, 2021

a tale of two lines

I took a vacation to our county seat of Cihuatlán today.

Well, it was a vacation in the same way that Omar uses that word to describe my trips to Oregon on family business. Maybe he is correct. They are working vacations.

And work I did.

When I was last in Cihuatlán, I paid for my car registration for the year, but the clerk told me I needed to return in three or four weeks to pick up my documents (home is the hunter from the hill). At the time, I thought that was odd. For the last few years, the documents were printed on the spot.

Friends told me that the registrations were now ready, so, I scheduled a trip for today. I had also heard that covid-19 vaccines were available for a limited period at the IMMS Clinica 80. Because I was not certain how large the crowds would be at the clinic, I parked between the two destinations, and walked to the clinic.

I suspected that in the third or fourth day of vaccinations, there would be long lines. There were. Because the registration documents for my car were more important than getting vaccinated today, I walked over to the equivalent of a DMV -- fully expecting a long there, as well.

I was wrong. There was no line. As you can see in the photograph. Two clerks. One person being served.

Upon receiving my receipt, the clerk serving me retired to a desk in the back, hurriedly sought assistance from someone else, and returned with a plastic card. Something new.

In the past, drivers have received a decal to put in their car window (the equivalent of a license tag) and a paper card that acted as a registration form. Apparently, the new card has replaced the other two. It will sleep in my wallet.

All of that had killed about ten minutes. When I walked back to the clinic, the lines were about the same length.

Even though it initially looked as if the process were chaotic, I started paying attention to the flow. Two lines led to tables where earnest young people were filling out forms.

The form was then handed to the person in line who would walk over to a third line that led into the clinic.

I joined the flow and was impressed that this whole operation had been created out of thin air to respond to a pandemic that was not in anyone's emergency handbook. It understandably had its clunky moments, but it was getting the job done.

Last week there was anxious chatter on the local Facebook pages that the vaccine was on its way and there was an on-line process to set up an appointment for those of us sitting in God's waiting room. After looking at the signup procedures, I asked some Mexican friends what they were going to do. To a person, they said they were simply going to show up.

And that appears to be what happened in our group today. Almost all of us were drop-ins.

As is true with all of these stand-in-line events, there are people who think they have better things to do than be like the rest of us. I saw only four or five instances of bad behavior out of the two hundred or so of us who were waiting to be vaccinated. An older northern man who had one of those rolling anger fits that ended up erupting into "no one in [his country] would ever stand for this [Nixonian expletive deleted]." His wife led him away.

The process was simple. I stood in line for about 55 minutes to receive my vaccination form. THe only document I needed to produce was my permanent resident card (including my CURP number). I then stood in the get-vaccinated line for an hour and 40 minutes. The line would move at a steady pace -- and then just stop. (I soon discovered why.)

The vaccination itself took no more than a matter of seconds. A security guard directed the post-shot set to a covered area behind the clinic where we were to wait at least 30 minutes to ensure we did not end up as an anomaly in the vaccination data.

We also had to wait for a group of young women to process the paperwork for our second vaccination. Mine is tentatively set for 14 April. I will be called and notified where that will be.

Mexico has purchased a grab bag of vaccines. Pfizer. Oxford-Astrazeneca. The Russian vaccine. Two Chinese vaccines. Because the clinic did not offer a cafeteria approach, I was stuck with the vaccine on offer: Oxford-Astrazeneca. If it had been the Russian or one of the Chinese vaccines, I probably would have declined the jab. But, it wasn't, and I bared my arm, despite what we now know of the British vaccine and its limitations. After all, all medications have limitations.

The reason the vaccination line slowed to a stop was the pace of the check-out process. It was deliberative. When all of the chairs in the area filled, the vaccinations stopped.

That is not a complaint. It is merely an observation. Because, overall, I am still amazed that this type of mass operation worked as efficiently as it did.

By the time I was released, I had spent just under four hours getting my first covid-19 vaccination.

While I was standing in line, I was interviewed by a woman with a camera asking me how I felt about Mexico's generosity in vaccinating people like me -- and not just native-born Mexican citizens. I told her that I was very grateful to the taxpayers of Mexico for their generosity, and that I was one of those taxpayers. I will probably end up in some Morena political ad.

It was a long day, but a productive day. All of my first-of-year payments are complete, and I may -- or may not -- have boosted my natural defenses against the virus.

To me, that is a good day in Mexico.  

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