I am convinced you can learn everything you need to know about a person based on how they handle themselves in an airport.
She impedes faster moving traffic on autowalks and escalators? He eats a homemade tuna fish sandwich with extra onions and a side of boiled cabbage on his 10-hour flight? Those individuals deserve inclusion on your personal no-fly list.
The best indicator of what kind of person you’re dealing with manifests during the preflight boarding process. Good people sit back and patiently wait for their turn to emplane. Obtuse people park themselves by the gate, forcing everyone else to squeeze past. But the very worst of people? They’re the ones who cheat their way on board early, either by lying or simply ignoring instructions and arrogantly striding on through.
(I can see many of you assessing and reconsidering your current committed relationships right now. I feel you — my husband is definitely doing the same thing.)
Just like our airport behavior, how we handle the COVID vaccine rollout is going to tell us a lot about ourselves and one another.
The first doses of vaccine were administered in our communities on Friday. There may be a few first class passengers already cozily reclined in their cushy seats with an excess of leg room, but for the most part, it’s been the healthcare workers at the front of the line. Just like when active military are welcomed onto the plane first, nobody is complaining. Similar to those in the armed forces (thank you for your service), frontline health care workers have put their life and limb literally on the line for all of us — the least we can do is arm them with immunity as soon as possible. Plus, if there’s anything we’ve learned in 2020 it’s that healthcare workers are tough as nails and skilled with sharp things — if they want to board first, I am definitely not standing in their way.
In addition to our healthcare workers, our long-term care residents have been called for early boarding. If you want to complain about that, be my guest — more inheritance for me when Grandpa cuts you and all the other ingrates out of his will.
After that, it gets a bit tricker. The CDC calls for essential workers to be vaccinated in Phase 1b, then those with health conditions in Phase 1c. We definitely have not spent the last nine months peacefully agreeing on what constitutes an essential worker. And as for medical conditions, we’ve all got them — especially since morbid obesity will likely be on the list of qualifying high-risk conditions — ironic considering how many of us were not morbidly obese before succumbing to quarantine snacking.
What will we do after the three-phased Phase 1? Will we make way for those traveling with small children? Or will enrolled in the loyalty rewards program have their day? How many special categories will we create before we open boarding to the main cabin?
In addition to what we learn about ourselves, what will we learn about our institutions? Just like a successful flight boarding experience depends on airline staff having and executing a plan, we need our healthcare entities to get this right. Hiccups are inevitable during such a herculean endeavor, but it’s not like we haven’t known this was coming eventually. Our state and local healthcare leaders hopefully have been and certainly will need to listen to the healthcare team — everyone from the physicians and nurses to the registration folk and facilities staff — in order to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible with as little waste of time and resources as possible. They can’t just wing it.
However this goes, there’s one guarantee — regardless of what order we get on the plane, we’ll all get to our shared destination at the same time. In this case we’ve booked a flight to a world no longer controlled by COVID. First, last, or somewhere in the middle, we all need to do our part and get on the plane.
Because so help me, we better not be sitting on the tarmac any longer than we have to waiting for some yahoos holding up our flight while they take their ever-loving time in the duty-free store perusing conspiracy fiction.
Just get on the plane, please. It’s time to take off.
Jade Stellmon set sail for a three-hour tour on the Palouse in 2001. She is now happily marooned in Moscow with her spouse and five children.