Sunday, March 26, 2023

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Joe's Neighborhood

Who should be culled from the herd?


“The test is in the pneumatic tube,” the pharmacy tech’s crackly robotic voice says over the speaker.

Great. But which pneumatic tube? With all the other tubes and pipes and columns in the drive-through lane, I can’t tell what’s what.

There’s a whoosh, and suddenly the test appears in that tube over there — arriving like George Jetson home from Spacely’s Space Sprockets.

Darn it all, I can’t reach the tube. So I open the car door, still trying to reach through the open window, and I am left hanging in space across the pavement.

How did I get in this predicament?

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa (March)

I blame my wife.

Although my wife and I have both shots and our boosters, my wife tested positive for COVID the other day (she is recovering nicely from her mild case, thank you). So here I am, taking my 73rd test since the pandemic began.

I slowly pull myself back in the car, bump my head on the door frame, and get out.

The lady in the car behind me glares. Now is that Iowa Nice?

Back in the car, the robot woman on the speaker tells me to open the package and remove the swab.

I can’t.

Listen, I try. Multiple times. But my big fingers can’s get that darn swab out of the package.

“Be careful, don’t touch the swab end,” blares the loudspeaker.

Really, I don’t know where the swab end is, let alone have any desire to touch anything.

Finally, I get it open.

“Put the tip three-quarter inches inside your right nostril until it hits a hard spot.”

Well, the hard spot would be my brain, but I dutifully twist and twirl both nostrils.

“Now screw off the lid of the small container with liquid and put the swab in the container.”

I screw off the lid… and immediately drop the lid between the seat and the console.

Trust me, we have a nice enough car. Seats, steering wheel, the whole nine yards. But between the seat and the console we also have the Bermuda Triangle. Nothing and no one survives this area. Keys, popcorn, pens, french fries, and small children have dropped into this abyss and never been seen again. And now the Bermuda Triangle has swallowed the cap I’m supposed to screw back on.

I get out of the car.

Look at that. There are now five cars sitting patiently behind me. Although the woman in the first car doesn’t seem to be cheered up by my fun antics.

Moving the seat as far forward as possible, and holding high my unsealed container like a rodeo rider with a hand in the air and one hand on the rope, I bend over the back seat and reach into the dark.

“Are you having problems?” the loudspeaker lady says.

Hmmm… a dollar bill, a pretzel, a quarter of a glazed donut… and the cap.

I smile and hold it up victoriously for the cars waiting patiently in line to celebrate in my success.

The woman in the car behind me now has her head in her hands and may be crying.

I jump back in the car.

I close everything up and ask the loudspeaker lady where to put it.

“In the container.” Her tone has become tired.

I can’t see a container.

I get out of the car once more and try to forcibly open the tube door. No luck.

“In the Styrofoam container,” she says after a long sigh.

Ah hah!

I open the Styrofoam container, sitting on top of a garbage can next to the tube, and place my sample in with several others. When I get back into the car, I can’t close my door. So I give it a hard yank. The door knocks over the Styrofoam container and the garbage can and they both crash into the parking lot.


Perhaps I should just drive away?

Maybe to New Zealand?

Instead, being a good Iowan, I jump out of the car once more. Pick up the container and the garbage can. Place everything back where it belongs.

I glance back at the woman behind me. I can’t see her. I think she may be lying down across her front seat.

I quickly drive off.

So, there you go. Failure to properly take your COVID test is a litmus that answers so many questions about a person. Certainly, one of those being herd immunity and who can society best do without.

Now where is that darn drive-through for those to be culled from the herd? ♦

Joe Weeg spent 31 years bumping around this town as a prosecutor for the Polk County Attorney’s Office. Now retired, he writes about the frequently overlooked people, places and events in Des Moines on his blog: www.

One Comment

  1. Cindy says:


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