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Not The Boost You Were Expecting Today

, , , , , , | Working | October 31, 2021

It’s the start of flu season. Several grocery store chains are offering a $5 payment for getting flu vaccinated. I’m already vaccinated against the health crisis disease, but I figure I should get flu vaccinated, too; I work closely with people.

I decide to go to one of the pharmacies that’s offering a $5 gift card. The main desk has big placards that say, “Pickup,” “Dropoff,” and, “Information”. I wait in line for information.

When I reach the technician behind the desk:

Me: “I would like the flu vaccine.”

Employee #1: “All vaccine inquiries go to the window on the right.”

Sure enough, to the right, hidden behind some shelves that appear to be laden homeopathic medicines and such, is a little tiny archway window that looks like it’s somehow older than the whole rest of the building. For some reason, a small section of wall around that window, and only around that window, is made of red bricks. There’s a sign over the window that says, “Vaccine inquiries,” and there are information placards for both the [health crisis] vaccine and the flu vaccine.

There are three people in line in front of me. I wait my turn and then approach the desk.

Me: “Hello. I would like the flu vaccine, please.”

Employee #2: “Okay. Can I have your ID, a credit card, and your insurance card?”

I hand him my ID and insurance card as he presses a pile of documents on a clipboard toward me.

Employee #2: “Sign this.”

He turns his back on me to start entering information from my cards into the computer. I give the paperwork a quick read. It says, “[health crisis] vaccine.” Like a lot. In several places. It does not say, “flu vaccine,” in even one place.

Me: “Uh, sir?”

He seems busy. I wait. Finally, he turns to me

Employee #2: “Have you got it filled out yet?”

Me: “No, sir. It’s wrong. It says, ‘[health crisis] vaccine’ and I wanted the flu vaccine.”

Employee #2: “It’s fine. Just fill it out and sign it.”

Me: “Okay. And you’re sure this is going to be the flu vaccine?”

Employee #2: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay.”

So, I fill it out and sign it. I also scratch out “[Health Crisis]” and write “Flu” and then initial the change. This turns out to be important later.

He takes the paperwork from me and directs me towards a third area, hidden from the first two. This area has brown painted cinder-block walls and several doors in a small cupola waiting area. The sign over it simply says, “Treatment.”

Eventually, someone comes out of one of the doors. This man is different from the lab technician I had been speaking to earlier. He’s older for one, with a strong accent that makes it clear English is not his first language.

Employee #3: “You are here for the vaccine, yes?”

Me: “Yes, sir.”

Employee #3: “[My Name], yes?”

Me: “Yes, sir.”

Employee #3: “What is your birthday, yes?”

Me: “[Birthday], sir.”

Employee #3: “Very good. Come with me. We will get you vaccinated.”

I follow him through another door to a small room, almost the size of a broom closet, but much more brightly lit.

Employee #3: “You do not have any allergies to any medicines, no?”

Me: “No, sir, no allergies.”

Employee #3: “You have a wife?”

Me: “Yes, I do.”

Employee #3: “Good. She will be very happy that you are being safe. Please lift your sleeve. This will pinch a little. It will not hurt, no.”

He pokes my shoulder with the needle and injects it.

Employee #3: “Very good. Go to the ‘Vaccine Inquiries’ desk to schedule your second shot, yes.”

Me: “Second shot? I thought that the flu vaccine only needed one shot. Also, uh… How do I get my five dollars?”

Employee #3: “Flu vaccine? No, this is [health crisis] vaccine.”

Me: “I already got the [health crisis] vaccine. My insurance is going to deny a third shot.”

Employee #3: “Please take this matter to the ‘Information’ desk. I cannot help you with this.”

Me: “Okay.”

I go back to the Information desk. There’s a different person this time, a woman. I can’t see the man I spoke to earlier.

Me: “Hey, you gave me the [health crisis] shot, and I wanted the flu shot.”

She glances at my paperwork.

Employee #4: “It says, ‘[health crisis].’ Also, there were some issues with your payment.”

Me: “Please look closer at the paperwork, ma’am.” 

She looks closer and sees that I crossed out “[health crisis]” and wrote “flu.”

Employee #4: “I can’t accept this paperwork; it’s been altered. Do you have any paperwork that hasn’t been altered?”

Me: “I feel like maybe I should be the one asking you that, ma’am. Can I get whatever charges you’ve made on my card canceled and get the flu vaccine I asked for, please?”

Employee #4: *Pauses* “One moment, sir, while I go get a manager.”

Me: “Thank you.”

The manager comes out and looks at the paperwork. He talks with the lady and with the employee who gave me the shot. Then, he looks at the paperwork again and starts typing on the computer. He doesn’t ask me any questions. Finally, he walks up to the front desk.

Manager: “Sir, I’ve refunded the charges against your card because it was our error. Do you still want the flu shot with us?”

Me: “No offense, sir, but I think I will be going elsewhere. Thank you very much for your assistance. I’m very glad it’s fixed. But I just want to go home now. I think I will try again elsewhere tomorrow.”

I went home and checked my bank statement. Sure enough, they had tried to charge me and then canceled the transaction. The next day, I went to a different grocery store pharmacy that was offering $5 for the flu vaccine. This time, it went very smoothly.

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