There’s Strengthening Your Immune System And Then There’s This

, , , , , , , | Healthy | February 17, 2021

I’m a volunteer marshall. I do anything required at a vaccination site to make things go smoothly, except preparing and giving the actual injections, though I have applied to be trained to do that, too!

The tested vaccine protocol for both vaccines currently on offer in the UK is two doses, three weeks apart. The government has decided to focus on getting as many people their first vaccination as soon as possible, so patients are being told to wait twelve weeks for their second vaccination. I was vaccinated three weeks ago, which means I am ready for a second shot, but I probably won’t be called before Easter; it’s the end of January now. However, I am working on the front line, so I will take it if they offer it to me. Before administering the vaccine, they ask a series of screening questions — allergies, are you well today, etc. — and one of them is, “Have you had a vaccination of any kind in the last seven days?”

I’ve arrived late for my shift at a site I haven’t visited before. I go to the check-in desk where patients go when they arrive to pick a fresh mask up before finding something to do.

I take a mask from a box on the table and indicate my hi-viz.

Me: “Thanks. I’m a volunteer; I have just arrived.”

Admin: “Great, just take a seat there.”

I sit in front of a nurse, thinking she is going to deploy me.

Nurse: “What’s your date of birth and NHS number?”

Me: “What’s happening here?!”

Nurse: “Don’t worry; I’m not going to give you an injection.”

Phew! She asks a few more questions and I see where this is going. 

Me: “You are not going to give me an injection, but after this, someone else will?”

Nurse: “That’s right.”

Me: “I had the [Company #1] vaccine on the eighth.”

Nurse: “That’s fine; it’s more than seven days ago.”

Me: “What vaccine are you using today?”

Nurse: “[Company #2].”

Me: “But I had the [Company #1]!”

It took a few more moments to work it out. It had been a long day, and she had asked these questions a lot. There was much laughter as the people nearby had wondered why I kept saying [Company #1]! If I had been at the end of my shift and as much on autopilot as she was, I might have been an n=1 study of the effects of mixing two vaccines.

I guess it’s a reminder to own your own healthcare.

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Welcome To Idiotshire, Population: Me

, , , , , , , | Working | January 19, 2021

The animal rescue/sanctuary charity I volunteer with also serves as the helpline for a national bird of prey charity. We only have the resources to go to local cases but have a directory of rehabilitators across the UK so we can put callers in contact with someone close to them. For those unfamiliar with the UK’s counties, many are named after the most important city in them — Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, etc.

In this instance, I’m helping a caller who came across a wounded peregrine falcon and I have reached the stage of finding someone who can help them.

Me: “All right, let’s see if we can find anyone close by. Whereabouts are you?”

Caller: “I’m in Cambridge.”

Since this is one such city as I mentioned before, this would be enough for most people to go on. But in this case, my brain completely fails me and I respond before I can stop myself.

Me: “Right. My geography’s not very good; what county is that?”

There’s a slight pause, just long enough for it to sink in.

Caller: “Cambridgeshire.”

Unsurprisingly, the feeling of idiocy strikes me hard as I realise how incompetent I sound and I try to think of something to say to get things back on track.

Me: “I rest my case.”

For what it’s worth, that did get a chuckle out of her and helped lighten the mood of an otherwise serious call. Mercifully, I was able to find a rescue center close by that the caller could take the bird to for treatment, without even forgetting the layout of my own country again!

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When All Else Fails, Blame God

, , , , , , , | Right | January 5, 2021

Since almost the beginning of the global health crisis, I’ve been volunteer grocery-shopping for the elderly and vulnerable through a secular local charity. As the winter holidays approach, my volunteer leader reaches out to me asking my availability over the break.

Me: “Oh, I can shop anytime. I’m not going anywhere and I don’t celebrate Christmas.”

Volunteer Leader: “You’re Jewish?”

Me: “What? No. I’m atheist.”

Volunteer Leader: “Wait… Why are you volunteering?”

Me: “Excuse me?! I’m shopping for these elderly people because it’s too dangerous for them to go out right now. I’m helping because there’s a need.”

Volunteer Leader: “All right. Okay. Sorry. I just don’t see the reason you’re volunteering.”

Me: “Seriously?! Okay. So, why are you volunteering?”

Volunteer Leader: “I help in the name of God.”

Me: “Oh. To get in his good graces.”

Volunteer Leader: “No. To get the word out of his goodness.”

Me: “To proselytize.”

Volunteer Leader: “Well… no.”

Me: “Look, your questioning my reason to help others means you don’t grasp doing something good for its own sake.”

Volunteer Leader: “What? No. Goodness starts and stops with God. That’s why I am here to help. Why would you volunteer if it wasn’t for Him?”

Me: “Because it’s the right thing to do. How do you explain my volunteering?”

Volunteer Leader: “God’s making you do it.”

Me: *Sighs* “Just give me the info of the people who need their shopping done over the holidays; I can help whoever needs it.”

I’m not going to ask for a different volunteer leader, but he might ask to not oversee me anymore; I’m not sure. I know that, as the months go on, volunteers are dropping out and those of us sticking with it as our lives get busy again are more and more valuable to the charity. Hopefully, next year, our services will no longer be needed and the elderly and vulnerable can get back to the lives they had before.

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Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged By The Same Standard… Jerk

, , , , , , | Working | December 14, 2020

I do volunteer work in a food pantry, and it’s the day of the annual big lunch with the volunteers from the different food pantries of the department and the departmental headquarters.

During the preparation of the meal, there are, among others, our buyer, the person in charge of training courses, [Volunteer], and me.

Buyer: “What do you do?”

Me: “I prepare a meatless starter.”

Buyer: “Why? Are there vegetarian people here?”

Volunteer: “Yes, me.”

Buyer: “So, you are one of those people who break the windows of the butchers’ shops!”

We are shocked, but [Volunteer] and I are in our twenties and our buyer is in his sixties, and here, there is a “let’s respect our elders” mentality.

Volunteer: “No, I’m not one of the extremists.”

A little later, we are having lunch.

Buyer: “Ah, but the kick scooters, I don’t understand! It’s a means of transport for the bobos!”

The person in charge of the training courses is older than the buyer and is not a vegetarian.

Trainer: “So, it’s you who puts paint on the QR codes of the self-service electric kick scooters to prevent them from unlocking!

The media has been reporting these acts of vandalism.

Buyer: “Nonsense! Why do you say that?”

Trainer: “Since you thought that vegetarians were necessarily people who broke butchers’ windows, I thought that those who criticised the kick scooters were necessarily people who vandalised them.”

Our buyer stopped criticising vegetarians and people on scooters.

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Scouting Out The Helpers

, , , , | Right | October 13, 2020

I volunteer as a Cub Scout leader for my son’s troop, a group of eight boys about nine years old — volunteer, as in Nobody Gets Paid For Doing This. We have a lot of fun meetings, trying to earn various badges, and the boys always have a good time.

At the end of one meeting, a father comes into my home to pick up his son, instead of the boy’s mother, who has always picked up her son in the past. 

I introduce myself to the father.

Father: *Angrily* “When are they going camping?! I thought scouting was all about camping!”

Me: “We would really like to do that. We were hoping to go camping this spring.”

Father: *Still angry* “They should have gone camping a dozen times by now! Why aren’t they going camping all the time?!”

Me: *Fake excited* “Oh, my goodness, are you volunteering to organize a camping trip?! The boys will be so excited! What date are you thinking, and where do you think we should go?”

He literally recoils, stepping back two paces. 

Father: “Well, uh, well…”

Me: “The other leaders and I all have jobs, and it takes time to plan the meetings and do the activities. It is so nice that you are willing to do this for the boys.”

Father: “[Son], come on. Your mom is waiting for us,”

And he practically ran out the door.

We did manage to have a couple of family camping trips with the troop. It was no surprise that this dad offered zero help with planning and did not attend.

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