To say that the last year has been difficult would be a huge understatement. We have faced challenges that I never thought we would be able to overcome. When the vaccines first started to roll out I could finally see the end of the misery that has been Covid-19. Bruce’s father, who is in a nursing home, was the first one to receive a dose, and Bruce got to visit him for the first time in a year. I know how lonely it has been for so many people, but for the folks in nursing homes it has been unimaginable loneliness.
My parents were next up and you better believe that my mother was all over it. They had their vaccinations scheduled and received their first doses at Scarborough Downs. I cried with relief because even though they have been safe as humanly possible, my mother has also been helping my niece and nephew on their two days a week of at-home school. It was a lifeline for her, as being apart from her grandchildren was devastating.
Bruce was the next one to be able to get vaccinated in the age category, when that still applied. He got his at the Falmouth Walmart — which was a strange experience — at the ear-piercing station in the middle of the store, and then he shopped a little during his 15-minute wait.
Then the state opened it up to all ages. I was very glad, but also a little upset that us 40-year-olds didn’t get first priority. I’m not computer savvy and had a difficult time finding a spot at first. Two of my staff members ended up driving to Bangor; one of them said a lifetime of trying to get concert tickets prepared them for this moment. Another former staff member refreshed his screens hundreds of times until he found a spot.
I must admit that I dropped brownies off at a local pharmacy with my phone number in case they had extra doses that would expire. I wasn’t able to get any staff members vaccinated that way, but did get a shot in the arm for a friend in Yarmouth. I also took them thank-you brownies when we all finally got our appointments and first shots at other places.
We had already planned to be closed on Patriot’s Day, and then when news of an incoming Nor’Easter on the Friday before came, we decided to take a four-day weekend. Running food in windy, wet snow is not fun. That Thursday night my father made a Friday appointment for my brother Neil at the Auburn Mall. As soon as I got home I tried and — eureka! — I was able to score a spot. I immediately alerted all of my employees and three of them were easily able to get spots.
On a blustery Friday we all made our way to the Auburn Mall. It was kind of surreal for me, as I spent much of my youth there and now it is nearly empty, but the Spencer’s Gifts was still there! A National Guardsman opened the door for me and within 20 minutes of a very orderly process I was on my way. Relieved and elated, but also realizing that myself and three staff members would all need Friday, May 7, at least partially off, and one would need to travel to Bangor the following Monday.
Our tiny staff has become even smaller over the course of the pandemic and hiring has seemed impossible. We all trust each other and know that we have all been following the same safety protocols. In order to serve our customers we need every employee, every day. We will be taking another four-day vaccination vacation starting Friday, May 7. We’re making sure everyone on staff has a chance to get their second dose.
Now that the initial rush for vaccines has slowed down, it is so much easier to get your shot. Just do it. It is safe, it is effective, and it is the only way back to normal times. Do it for the children that can’t be vaccinated yet. Do it because it is the right thing to do.
— Erin Bruns