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On Wednesday, May 26, I got the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That was at 1 p.m. Expecting to feel like crap for several days, I fortified with a six pack of Voodoo Ranger IPA while clearing my calendar and to-do list of all obligations. I’m glad I did, because after an evening nap, I woke up around midnight with a shitty fever and chills and aches all over, and my arm feeling like someone hit me with a 2×4.

The most annoying thing was probably that I have not been sick in so many years that I’ve lost count, except for a brutal sinus infection four or five years ago. During the pandemic and related societal lockdowns, many more people have been working from home, and from the anecdotal accounts I’ve read online, many of them are discovering that they get sick a lot less often (or maybe never) when they aren’t spending all day trapped in an office with those wonderful disease vectors known as coworkers.

I’ve been working from home since 2005, first as an employee for a small merchant services company, and then as a freelancer since 2007. It was a few years before one day it dawned on me that I couldn’t remember the last time I had so much as a cold. I did get one cold since then, after taking an airplane to visit family on the other side of the country. Believe me, I absolutely hated that cold. It made me angry!

As the vaccination rate in the USA increases and people look forward to returning to some semblance of normalcy, I am less than thrilled about the normalcy of people standing in my personal space while in line at the store. I have become a big fan of people covering their faces and keeping their distance from me.

I recall a moment a few weeks before the nation started to wake up and realize we had a serious virus to deal with. I was in line at the grocery store, and ahead of me were an adult male and a child. The man bent over and wiped a glob of snot from the kid’s face with his bare hand, then proceeded to touch the counter and the credit card reader. Ugh. I wanted to burn the entire store to the ground with the sterilizing power of a flame thrower. The last thing I need is some stranger’s kid’s snot germs all over my hands.

So, while it will be nice to not worry about being killed by a virus because of a simple mission to buy beer and food, I am not looking forward to returning to normal if it means returning to snot-covered card readers.

Anyway, my stupid fever and aches persisted for days. The aches went away first, after about 48 hours. The fever/chill thing gradually decreased in intensity, but it didn’t go away until maybe late Saturday or early Sunday. I lost track of time a little bit because I slept so much. Like last Thursday? I slept through most of it. Friday and Saturday were also a blur of naps, one after the other. I was glad for the Memorial Day holiday, because I needed that buffer to catch up on life.

Now I feel back to normal and ready to get on with things. It was annoying as hell feeling sick, especially as the result of something I intentionally had done to my body, but I guess it was better than dying on a ventilator in a hospital.

I will point out one other weird thing about this experience; namely, how a public health emergency became so stupidly politicized. If you follow current events at all, I don’t need to explain what I mean, so here is just one tiny example.

When I got the first dose back in April, the guy who gave me the shot asked me, “What have you heard about the vaccine?”

I said, “I’ve heard everything from ‘It’s no big to deal’ to ‘Bill Gates is going to microchip me.’” After all, that’s the kind of crazy shit I’ve heard, and he asked what I heard, not what I thought.

He replied, “I don’t like Bill Gates, but I am a Libertarian,” and proceeded to explain to me what being a Libertarian was all about.

First, I have a recent Master degree in Public Administration, which is the study of government and policy in practical terms of both how things get done and the consequences. I’ve published books on the topic, including books on public health policy. I know I don’t look like a guy with a graduate degree in public policy. I know the way I dress and my antipathy for shaving my face make me look like some kind of aging punk rocker dude who probably dropped out of high school to be in a band and live in a van in your parking lot. But I really did not need a lesson in what Libertarianism involves. I’m all set on that, thanks.

Before anyone starts hating on this guy in the comments, he volunteered as a subject in the clinical trials, and we wouldn’t even have a vaccine right now if not for people like him. If he wants to talk politics for a second before stabbing me, I’m definitely cutting him some slack.

But what the fuck does someone’s political party affiliation have to do with getting vaccinated? If I take my cat to the vet to get her shots, I don’t give a damn if the veterinarian is a Republican, Democrat, Communist, Anarchist, or whatever! It’s as irrelevant to the situation as the vet’s religion. Methodist, Satanist, Buddhist—I don’t care! It’s all bullshit anyway. Just give my cat her shots so she can be healthy and happy and safe for as long as possible.

All I can say is that this past year has revealed many fundamental problems in our society, and few of those revelations leave me hopeful for our future. But what I am hopeful about is that in the very near future I might be able to go out to have a couple pints and shoot a game of pool without worrying that it might kill me, and maybe even make a casual friend or two in my new city. For that, I’d consider a few days of feeling like garbage after a vaccine to be a price well paid.