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GROB: Getting on the list, and getting off it

By James Grob,

Your name is on some kind of a list somewhere, and so is mine, and I just hope that we’re both on good lists and not on bad lists.

To digress, when I was in college some friends of my parents who obviously didn’t know me all that well asked me how my studies were going, and if I had made the Dean’s list. They seemed to be under the impression that I was really smart and the type of person who would be on a good list like that.

I smiled and politely told them that, yes, I had made the Dean’s list — that is, the Dean’s blacklist.

And they laughed and laughed at that, mostly because they didn’t realize I wasn’t kidding. That Dean guy was out to get me, and in hindsight, I can’t really blame him, but that’s a whole other story.

It’s human nature to make lists. We categorize things, we list them, we check them off when we’re finished. It’s very satisfying. Even Santa Claus, I’ve been told, has a couple lists.

I have an ever-widening list of individuals who I have blocked on Facebook because I found them annoying, and blocking them makes me feel like I’m the king and they’re my royal subjects who I can remove from existence with the push of a button. I sometimes laugh manically as I do this.

I would very much like to be on the COVID-19 vaccination list. I think it’s remarkable that scientists were able to develop the vaccine in a relatively short period of time. It’s also remarkable — in a bad way — that so little advanced planning was done when it comes to the mass distribution of said vaccine.

It’s getting better — we’re getting better — but we’re still in a position where many locales have just a few hundred doses of the vaccine available at a time.

And so, we need to make lists.

We need to prioritize, and that becomes a problem, because my priorities are always going to be slightly different than your priorities. And the things that you and I think are the most important are always going to be slightly different than the things others think are the most important.

So no matter how you do the lists, you’re going to unintentionally pit people against each other.

From what I can see, the lists are prioritizing people who are more likely to die if they get COVID, as well as people who are more likely to spread the disease to others, should they get it.

That makes perfect sense, except when it doesn’t.

I’ve been fighting cancer and getting chemotherapy for almost five years. I have a compromised immune system. You would think that would qualify me for the vaccine list. I’m also only 53 years old, so as of this moment, I am not on the list. I am told that might change very soon.

My dad is fighting cancer, too, and he’s almost 80. He got his shot, and so did Mom. My wife and sister got their shots, because they’re teachers.

I have a friend out on the East Coast who smokes. A pack a day. Smoking puts you at a higher risk. So he got his shot. It seems strange, that he was rewarded for doing something he knew was bad for him his whole life, but it’s absurdly logical.

I am thrilled that all of these people who I love are getting their shots, and acknowledge that I am safer because they are safer.

I am fortunate that I have a job where I don’t need to come into close physical contact with the unmasked masses very often, so I am not upset about not yet being on the list. I am willing to wait my turn.

I am reminded, however, of a time when I played pee-wee baseball, and was standing in the on-deck circle with two outs in the final inning. We were all supposed to get a chance to bat — we were all on the list — but the kid ahead of me struck out, and the game was over, and I never got to take a swing.

You could say that I probably would’ve struck out, too, but not getting your shot feels so much worse than getting your shot and failing. I should put that on my list of wise things I’ve accidentally said.

There’s another issue that I’m sure some intelligent people are dealing with somewhere, and people in charge are probably ignoring them.

A lot of the people who qualify to get on the list do not know how to go about getting on the list.

My parents are pretty knowledgeable when it comes to the online world, for people their age, and it took them several days and advice from several helpful friends to get their names on the list.

I saw a nice lady about the age of my parents at the pharmacy, asking the tech how she could get on the list. The tech explained things to her as politely and carefully as she could. “You get online,” you go to this site, and so on, and so on.

The nice lady smiled and nodded her head and had the expression on her face that we all have when we don’t understand anything that someone else is saying to us, but we don’t want to appear rude or stupid.

There’s no way that nice lady got on the list by herself. I really hope she had a good friend or relative who helped her.

So, as I wait for my chance to get on the list, I think I will compose another list. I’m going to make a list of people I know who could be on the list, and maybe want to be on the list, but aren’t.

I’m going to find out if there is a way I can help them get on the list. And if there is, I’m going to do that. Maybe you can do the same. Because you know what’s more satisfying than putting items on a list?

Checking them off.

That means you’re finished, and more than anything, we all need to finish this.

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