We started off early this morning, to get our long awaited flu shots which were scheduled from 8 a.m. until noon. This had been on our calendar for weeks, during which time we tried not to get a cold, or anything else that could prevent our being there for it. We were rude to our friends; if they so much as sneezed we said go away. We opened windows at a church meeting, and decided we were freezing in our house and would certainly get sick, and put off a get-together with our daughter and granddaughter because Jen had “a little cough.” (One “little cough” is sufficient to bring down a whole family, which it did). None of which do we notice at ordinary times. We have filled out our papers, and now here we sit, in the flu line at Waban Park.

We are guided into our place by polite and helpful volunteers and the police. Chartreuse vests abound; there are helpers everywhere. We are “staged” in three or four lines marked with big numbers and are directed to Number 1. Right away we are approached by a young woman who collects our papers, asks some questions and cheerfully says it won’t be long. Another young person with more papers comes along and asks, “Can you walk in, or stay in your car?”

“We’ll walk,” we say. “Awesome!” she says, writing it down, and hurrying off.

We and others have naturally asked, as the plans for this vaccination day emerged, why can’t we just do it like last year? There is lots of parking at the high school, we were in and out in no time, and it was so easy. If I’d been paying attention earlier I would have learned that this whole operation is a dress rehearsal for any kind of major emergency that might threaten a community: a hurricane, fire, an attack . . . and is about all the players learning their roles ahead of time.

We then drove to the high school, being directed by more volunteers through the Manny Correllus State Forest and on to the school parking lots. More careful directions, and guideposts and arrows led us through the many corridors of the rather complex building. We were in and out of the big gymnasium in minutes, and as is usual in the grocery, post offices or drugstore, we saw people we knew and exchanged greetings with the nurses and guides and acquaintances.

We left with a strong feeling of admiration for the planning and execution of this community effort . . . and it was still only ten o’clock. Time for a second cup of coffee at the Black Dog.

And we get to do it again when the H1N1 vaccinations arrive.

Jeanne Hewett is a fabric artist and freelance writer who lives in Vineyard Haven.