While I've been busy running a combine, a Ranch Hand, a round baler and a few tractors the last couple of weeks, Sherill has had other things on her agenda. She's been shooting kids, the elderly, and the infirm on a regular basis.
Okay, okay, the technical description is immunizing them against influenza.
Sherill spends most of her normal workday with kids in a hospital, where she is a nurse. They do a lot of well-baby checks and a ton of childhood immunization work as part of their regular routine, so shots are pretty standard fare. The kids also tend to generate some of the more entertaining parts of the day.
One pair of kids came in with their dad to get their checkups and shots one day. The big sister was about five or six years old. Her little sister was three. The older one got to go first, but she was hesitant. Moments before it was needle time, she told her dad, "I'm still kind of nervous about this."
"Well," Dad said, "what do you suppose you should do?"
Without hesitation, she proclaimed, "I think I'd better pray!" With that, she bowed her head for a few moments and then went ahead with the shot.
Then it was the three-year-old's turn. As the needle was presented, she turned to her father and said, "I think I'd better pray, too."
I'm sure it wasn't about stalling or buying time at all. Not that kids come up with excuses on short notice or anything.
Then there was the five-year-old who had come in for his pre-kindergarten checkup earlier this year. He was not looking forward to the required vaccinations. As Sherill got the needle out to give him his first shot, he looked at the needle, turned to his mother, and looking like he was ready to pack up and leave, said, "You know, Mom, I think I can probably wait to start kindergarten until next year."
Nice try. He got jabbed anyway before negotiations proceeded any further.
For those tykes who maintain some semblance of control during the process, rewards are bestowed. A popular item to hand out to wounded warriors is stickers. You'd think they were candy or cash by the reaction they generate. In my day, I would not have folded so easily.
One youngster was sort of a mini-professor. I believe he was about four years old and very bookish. He got his shots and then got his stickers handed over to him. On his way out, he informed Sherill, "Your sticker selection was wonderful (long pause) . . . but your shots SUCK!"
Duly noted. Thank you, Professor Subtle.
The clinic has a special flu shot program where people can visit during the day and receive their flu shots at their leisure. Nurses sign up for the various shifts and report to the area of the clinic where the vaccine is administered. There are some younger adults and other health-compromised folks in the mix, but for most of the flu shot clinic, the pool of candidates tends to run heavy toward the other end of the age spectrum — the elderly.
A guy in his late 90s came in with either his granddaughter or great-granddaughter as his chaperone. He had a realistic attitude about the whole thing. "At my age, a lot of stuff can take me out, but it's not gonna be the flu this year!"
Then there was the patient from the Midwest who stopped by for his flu shot while he was at the clinic for a variety of other visits. He mentioned that he was a farmer, and Sherill quizzed him on what he raised once she explained her connection to farming. The guy had the bases pretty well covered. He had corn, soybeans, hay and cattle. That caused Sherill to ask if he'd ever heard of a little publication called Farm Industry News.
"I sure have!" he exclaimed. "I read the whole thing every month, cover to cover, as soon as it arrives. Been reading it for years."
That's when Sherill informed him, "My husband writes a humor column for the magazine's website."
The guy's response was immediate. "You're married to Guy Number Two?! Oh, man, I love that column! I've been reading it for five or six years now, ever since it started."
Huh. He's the one. Whatdyaknow.
Without seeing his medical records, I think we can probably assume that the word "astute" makes several appearances in his paperwork.
Guy No. 2