Friends of the Jabber-walkie

Yesterday we got jabbed with our COVID vaccines! Brad’s mom was on it, noticing before anyone else that South Carolina was going to open up vaccinations to our group on March 8th. Luckily we were able to get appointments for only one day later, the 9th!

We picked our friend Scarlet up, since they don’t have a car, and they rode in the back of the van. We all had masks on and kept all the van windows down.

When we got to the mall, there were no signs directing us to the vaccination site! I had read that the site was between Walmart and the mall entrance, so we drove around that area and didn’t see anything. We parked and got out, and luckily were able to ask someone who said we had to drive around to the other side of the mall. In the meantime while we were looking around for someone to ask, we saw lots of people coming in and out of the mall not wearing masks!

We drove to the back of the mall and saw hordes of people waiting outside of the vaccination site. We had to park far away to get a van-accessible disability parking spot. When we eventually got over there, they were calling people to line up with their registered time slot groups on the grass! They were already running about 30 minutes late in calling time slots.

We went to the front of the line because that was the only place there was a curb cut to get up onto the grass, and luckily someone there saw that we had a person in a wheelchair and told us to wait there and they’d get us in without waiting in line on the grass. I was thinking to myself how great that was and how easy this was going to be until they said that I’d have to leave my dog outside…

I told the man that it was a service dog, and she’s allowed by law to go where I go. He said it was a medical facility, so they don’t allow dogs. I told him it doesn’t matter, she’s still allowed and offered to give him the ADA warm-line number to call. He said he’d go ask someone.

So he went to ask the person at the door and she said that as long as my dog had an “official” vest and paperwork, she’d be allowed. I replied that there was no such thing as an official vest or paperwork, and again stated that legally they had to allow me with my service dog. They said they’d go ask…

In the meantime, Scarlet had to sit down (they have some pain and fatigue issues). Luckily we realized that they had wheelchairs to loan out, and since apparently it was going to be a lot of waiting around and walking around, Scarlet was able to borrow one.

I was freaking out a little bit about all the stress of the disorganization, not knowing what was going on, and the access challenge, and needed the help of Hestia. But I was afraid if I picked her up, they’d think I was a faker and deny me even more! Luckily Scarlet talked me into using Hestia as I needed her.

Finally about 10 minutes later, they came back and said we could go on in.

We went to check in, then to fill out paperwork, then to check in with another person, then another person, and finally to the table where they actually had vaccines to give us! It was a lot of walking around and waiting to get there! When we approached that table, a fellow NAMI board member greeted us! She was volunteering with the vaccinations! It was great to see a friendly face!

Finally after talking with her, I got to sit down and get my shot. I was SO happy!!!!! I even cheered when it was done!

After waiting fifteen minutes to make sure we were OK, we were able to leave. Overall it took an hour from entering the facility to leaving. Much longer than I was expecting, but hey they were trying to vaccinate loads and loads of people, and I’m just happy to get my shot. We go back in three weeks for dose number two!

Even though we were all really tired from the vaccination process, Scarlet and I needed to run into Walmart. I needed to get butternut squash since they didn’t give me any when I ordered it last week and I didn’t realize it until I was trying to make my next recipe. And Scarlet needed a couple of things, too. Brad stayed in the car.

Scarlet usually uses the electric scooters to do their shopping in Walmart, so we walked in and asked where the scooters were. The door greeter stared at us blankly. So we walked around the entrance area and found two of them with caution tape on them. They were broken! There was no way Scarlet could walk around Walmart on their own, so we stood there trying to figure out what to do.

Eventually I saw that they had those special carts for kids where there are two kids seats at the back of the basket. Scarlet was able to fit in the kids seats, and I pushed the (really really long!) basket. It wasn’t hard to push, just very awkward as I was so worried I’d run into people or shelves!

We made it around the store OK and checked out, then went to customer service to complain about the broken carts. The lady there didn’t seem to care at all that the carts were broken! Ugh!!!!

Then we finally headed home. We stopped by to get drive-through at Taco Bell on the way as my reward for our outing, and then we dropped Scarlet off. When I got home I was very happy to eat my taco and burrito (both from the $1 menu, so my entire dinner cost only $2.18!) and relax! That was a HUGE outing for us!

As I relaxed, I reflected on how Hestia performed during the outing. She was AWESOME! I am SO proud of her! She was a little excited at the beginning because she hadn’t seen Scarlet in a year and REALLY wanted to say hello. But pretty soon she got over it and went back to good service dog mode. She heeled most of the time, didn’t sniff around, didn’t get distracted, and helped me a ton. I pushed Scarlet around in the wheelchair and in Walmart, and Hestia did a great job of heeling next to the wheelchair or cart. She was a consummate professional! Regardless of her lack of an “official” vest and paperwork LOL!

Brad tried to get video of our outing, but unfortunately there was an equipment malfunction and he didn’t get any video. He did manage to snag a few pictures, luckily, though! They all feature me (we were relying on video to capture Brad and Scarlet!), a white woman with long brown wavy hair. I am wearing a pink top and Japanese Chin leggings with a galaxy mask. Hestia is a small white and black dog wearing a galaxy vest. In some of the pictures you can see Scarlet, a person with green hair, wearing black and a purple mask, and in a wheelchair.

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