People is Odd

I was surprised the other day when I read Leah’s blog, because Leah lives somewhere in Bohunk, USA and they were offering H1N1 vaccines at her son’s school to any kid who wanted it FOR FREE.

Meanwhile, in the land of mystical, magical health care (Canada), people can only get the vaccine if they line up for hours (often 7 or more hours and in the rain) at centers specially designated to dispense the vaccine and only those centers and only during certain hours of certain days, and now that they’re all running out of the vaccine, only people who are pre-screened and deemed to be at risk (and hockey players) are allowed to get it.

What’s the deal? Is all of the US awash with H1N1 vaccines?  Why is  this so complicated in Canada?

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The other thing that I find interesting about this whole H1N1 hysteria is that people are frightened and worked up enough about the very small possibility of becoming ill from this flu or the even small possibility of becoming gravely ill or dying from this flu that they’ll stand in line for an entire day to get vaccinated; that they’ll buy a priority wrist band from someone else, who got it for free, in order to get their shot at staying healthy; that they’ll get into heated arguments with friends and family over the sheer “stupidity and recklessness”  of someone choosing not to get vaccinated.

And yet, these same people will scoff at and ignore suggestions that they make some small adjustments to their lifestyle in order to help prevent the very large probability of getting and maybe dying of cancer, heart disease, diabetes or other lifestyle-related and life-threatening illnesses.

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Like every other workplace, mine is in the throes of freaking out about our pandemic plans and business contingency plans. How do we keep churning out vitally important government crap if everyone drops with flu at once? This eventuality needs to be meticulously planned for, in great detail and at great length.

So we’re writing up reams of documents – charts, graphs, spreadsheets – my god, the spreadsheets! And meetings! The meetings are endless. I had to go to one yesterday in a room they’re calling “The War Room” – where all the important pandemic-related spreadsheets are populated, stored and gazed at.

The room was tiny. And stuffy. And so freakin’ smelly. A small crowd of people work tirelessly in there with a bank of secure computers. They eat in there. They work in there late into the night. They come in on weekends. They’ve cancelled all their leave and vacations. They’re estranged from their friends and families. They never leave except to go home and shower and catch a few winks of anxiety-riddled sleep.

There was no air in the room. It was overly hot. (And did I mention smelly?). There was a big box of donuts in the middle of the table from which everyone was automatically and unthinkingly shovelling powdery, fried dough treats into their maw at regular intervals.

Everyone in the room was sick. Coughing, sneezing, watery eyes. They all looked tired, unkempt; a little manic. They were all at a strange level of hyper-stress.

“I am NOT sitting in this room with these people for an hour.” I thought to myself, trying not to inhale the funk of bacteria I could physically feel swarming around me. I sat by the door, almost in the doorway,  and insisted on leaving the door open. It made them very nervous. I Purelled myself thoroughly. They looked at me like they thought I had mental issues.

The meeting was completely unproductive even by normal meeting standards.

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