When the Spousal Unit and I toddled down to the mass vaccination clinic a couple of weeks ago, we breezed into the registration area, sat down on one of the many empty chairs to fill in the forms, received our numbers and were immediately called over to the clinic across the roadway, where we had to wait behind three other people to receive our flu vaccinations. Factor in the fifteen minute recovery time and we were in and out of there in just over half an hour.
And then the perfect storm struck.
With flagging demand, a couple of clinics were closed and the one near us became slotted to close after tomorrow. Two more people died of H1N1 in the city, including a previously healthy teenager. A flood of university students, who had been unable to receive vaccinations at school, returned home for Christmas.
And like me, many of us dragged our students down to the clinics yesterday to ensure our offspring received protection from the anticipated third wave. Where we were met with a snaking queue of humanity, shivering in the lightly falling snow. It took a half hour to get inside the registration building, but the only person complaining was the grumpy woman behind us who later budged us in line (but never fear, we budged her back).
Once inside the registration area, I saw that the rows of empty chairs that the Spousal Unit and I had been greeted with two weeks earlier, had been replaced by rows of shuffling people. I could see we were in for a bit of a wait.
But then, in swooped Jim, the mass vaccination clinic Ninja. Suitably attired in a long black wool trenchcoat with a walkie-talkie attached to his shoulder, he turned those slowly shuffling lines into briskly moving model of efficiency. And he did it all with such panache, encouraging people to "keep moving right along as you fill out that form, there are two lines, I would recommend that you get into the shorter line here." And then there would be an expansive sweep of the arm as he ushered people into place.
He was never still, although I am still not sure how he managed to work his way around that crowded room. Every time we looked, he was carrying another box of clipboards high above his head, setting up another reception table, moving ropes to create a smoother flowing queue, plucking elderly or disabled people out of line and personally escorting them over to the clinic proper. He was part maitre de, part choreographer, part military strategist, and one hundred percent awesome Ninja.
And after we had been in the registration building for half an hour, when he announced that it would be another hour and a half to two hours before we would be called over for our vaccinations, and he strongly recommended that those of us who had already received numbers go for coffee or lunch and come back later, at which time we would be able to go directly to the vaccination area, we took his advice and we went shopping.
And when we returned two hours later, it was just like Jim said it would be. Not that we expected any less. I am sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that Jim the mass vaccination Ninja now figures prominently in our games of Who Would Win In a Fight. Because Ninjas almost always win.