It has been a week since I had my second shot of the Covid-19 vaccine at my local VA hospital in Dublin, Georgia. There have been two problems with administering this vaccine. One has been reluctance by some to take the shot for fear of having an adverse reaction to it and another has been signing up for the shot. In my case neither was the case. Signing up was easy in that I received a call from the VA telling me that my regular six-months check-up visit was being changed from an in-person visit to a telephone visitation. I asked about the vaccine, and I was scheduled for an appointment three-weeks later. As my age, 79, and pre-existing conditions of diabetes and heart disease put me in the highest state priority, the nurse was able to sign me up on the spot.
Me and dog Hector drove the 30 miles to the hospital, found signage directing me to the auditorium in the administrative building where I was efficiently checked in, questioned about possible symptoms, given the painless shot, told to wait while sitting a social distance apart, and then sent on my way. After Hector had a romp in a large mowed open area between the buildings, we went home where I waited to see if there was any reaction. Outside of a temporary soreness in the arm, the shot actually improved things like a months-long chronic soreness in my legs, a burning in my throat with exercise, and a general feeling of mid-afternoon fatigue. We are all different animals, and others have had reactions that were much more pronounced. This has been widely reported, and that possibility was explained to me at the VA.
On my return to the same facility four-weeks later after a violent spell of winter weather in the mid-continental region delayed the delivery of the vaccine to some locations in Georgia, I returned for my second shot. Again there was no problem with my shot, but as I registered another Vet was turned away for his first shot, despite having made an appointment. Apparently sufficient vaccine had been reserved for those reporting for their second shots, but no new vaccines had arrived to allow people to get their first round of vaccinations. He was understandably disappointed as he had made special arrangements to show up for his shot and would have to repeat the process one more time.
The nurse who administered the shot asked me if I had any reactions from my first shot, and I reported that it had, in fact, apparently improved my condition for unknown reasons. To the contrary, the person in an adjoining booth was reporting to his nurse that he had a pronounced reaction to it and was ill for most of the second day after he had his shot, but that by the third day his symptoms had dissipated. My nurse told me that the symptoms were generally mild and short-lived, but different people that she had interviewed had reported different reactions in terms of severity and duration. Some, she reported, had a more violent reaction from their second shot than the first.
As a writer, my work is mostly indoors and sedentary. The following morning my arm felt as if I had received a sharp punch on the shoulder. I also felt somewhat tired and had a long nap in the afternoon after doing such strenuous activities such as watching my cactus grow and entering e-mail addresses for California libraries in a database for sending them new information about my most recent book, “Make Your Own Job: Anytime, Anywhere, At Any Age.” This was tedious, repetitive work that was completed over the next several days during an unusually rainy spell.
I knew “cabin fever” well, from living in Alaska. Knowing I was in a high-risk category, Hector and I had been cooped up for months with only very brief trips to town for medications, groceries, and occasional pieces of hardware. Five days after my vaccination, I planned a break out. I thought about driving down to Savannah for a nice seafood meal at one of my favorite places, The Shell House, but it was only open for supper and that meal would have made for a long drive back in the dark or an over-night stayover. That seemed a bit excessive to my Scotch-Irish genes, so I planned an alternative trip that would take me to Tennille, Milledgeville, and Macon the same day. My Ford Ranger was fully fueled and ready to go, Hector, as always, was eager for a drive, and so was I.
My rational for the trip was to stop at gun stores and pawn shops to find a beat-up side-lock muzzleloader to rebuild as the final chapter in an e-book I am doing building and restoring muzzleloading guns. I had already rebuilt some originals; built rifles, pistols, and revolvers from kits; but I also needed to do a modern replica side-lock muzzleloader, such as someone might have inherited from his grandad who had dropped in in a swamp, run over it with a truck, and put it in the back corner of a closet for a decade. I stopped at five gun stores and pawn shops, but my quest for a restorable muzzleloader was unsuccessful. Not only did they not have the gun I was looking for, their shelves were nearly barren of firearms of any sort. I was told that they were selling almost everything that would shoot as fast as they could get them in. If you have such a beat-up front-loading gun, I am still looking.
Another thing I wanted to do was to have a meal that I did not cook. I felt safer in doing this now, as the vaccine is reported to be more than 90 percent effective five days after the second dose. I planned to make a stop at one of my watering holes in Milledgeville on the return leg of my trip. I always kid the bartender that I am one of their regular customers which is true, although my regular visits happen to be on an annual basis. As might be expected in a college town, students and recent grads formed the majority of the serving staff. My barkeep had just received her joint degrees in Anthropology and Philosophy, and was waiting out a period of time before full in-class instructions preceded before going to grad school.
Having spoken not more than a couple of passing sentences for a period of months to very few people, I had to fight a tendency to erupt effusively about my new book project and carry on like Shakespeare’s Polonius and provide unwanted and unneeded instructions as he did to an offspring heading off to university. As she and I were almost the only ones at the bar save for a pod of other waiters gathered at the end of the bar, I did not feel as if I was depriving anyone else by engaging her in conversation. While not quite captive, I felt with a proper approach, I cook hook her into conversation with a person who was old enough to be her grandfather.
In such cases I find it useful to ask. First, “Are you a student at the college?”
She replied that she was.
I then asked her what was her major, and she volunteered the information that she was waiting for the epidemic to blow over before resuming her studies. I remarked that her field of study was comparatively popular and that academic openings were few. I asked if she would like to hear about my new book, Make Your Own Job: Anytime, Anywhere, At Any Age which might help her because it showed how she could have an independent source of income and not be dependent on earning wages to sustain her throughout life.
Again she replied positively, and her body language indicated something more than polite interest.
As she had a period of time before she resumed studies in her major, I suggested that she take some classes in both business and theater. The business courses were to give her some confidence in starting her own businesses someday and acting classes would help her become accustomed to giving performances before strangers. Since, as I told her, “All life is a series of performances that are varied according to the conditions at the moment and the audience.” Having some professional training outside of her major, whatever it is, will give her a leg up over her contemporaries was another point that seemed to register with her.
Yet one more parting bit of advice was to get her advanced degree somewhere far away from Milledgeville to expose her to new professors and environments. I received my B.S. from the University of Georgia and my M.S. from the University of Alaska. This approach proved to be very valuable throughout my life, and sometimes in unexpected ways.
With these three points being made and after her request for the book’s title and order instructions from Amazon, she expressed interest in the audio book which is now available from ListenUp Audio Books in Atlanta. Soon, it will also be available worldwide from other audio book on-line sales outlets as a downloadable audiobook. As I departed, I spoke to another young lady who manned the reception desk with similar positive results. They both wanted to hear what I had to say, and seemed to appreciate it.

Now What?
Although admittedly a small one, this was a market test for Gen-Xers. Having had a positive result, how do I capitalize on it? One approach would be to put up posters and appear at the bar as entertainment. The downside of this is that getting away from classroom instruction is why students go to bars, not to hear more of the same from some old white guy on stage. That is an interesting challenge, although I have done it before.
Throwing up a table and putting up a banner on university property to shill my books would violate a number of university rules and city business license regulations. On the other hand, I could talk to university officials at the library and various departments to see if I could give a guest lecture to one or more classes. Of course, my books would somehow be available for immediate purchase because I happened to have a few along, or through posters which also contained the now common QR codes which can be accessed from smart phones which have almost become body extensions among the student population. The last seems to be the most productive approach and the one that I will take.
Having the covid-19 vaccine opened up more possibilities than one might suppose.


Author's Bio: 

Wm. Hovey Smith is a Professional Geologist, former U.S. Army Military Engineer Officer, Information Scientist for an international company, writer, broadcaster, stand-up comedian, outdoorsman, wild game cook, and the author of more than 20 books and producer of more than 850 YouTube videos. His work in progress is a novel, Until Death Do You Part, which will be released as an audio book in about a month. His business books are available on Amazon and other book outlets.