A tall elderly man approaches the desk. Patrician in bearing, not a millimeter lost to the gravity of age.
“I’d like to find out how to get the vaccine.”
“Do you work at the hospital, sir?”
“No, but I’m seventy-five.”
“At this time, the hospital administers vaccines to health-care workers according to the governor’s priorities.”
“But I’d like to get one.”
“I suggest you review the guidelines to find your priority. Perhaps you can contact your physician.”
The gentleman gives me a look I’ve seen before, though usually from immigrants or non-English speakers, folks unfamiliar with American culture. A bafflement, an incomprehension of a world that mistreats him. He opens his mouth. I sense that he wants to protest, to argue, to have his way. But he can’t voice the injustice to me: another aging, albeit less distinguished looking, white guy. Besides, pubic displays of anger are likely not his style. The man turns and leaves. Withholding a polite, ‘thank you” is the extent of visible protest. But I feel his brain spin in disbelief. He is accustomed to being the first in line.
I staff the information desk at my local hospital a few days a week. The parade of people who enter a hospital provide fascinating glimpses into the vagaries of human experience. I occasionally share vignettes with my readers, stripped of identifying markers, which illustrate and sometimes delight.