It was April 17 at 3:43 p.m. when I arrived at the facility that had once been a Toys R Us. It was warm out, which is strange for April in Joliet The sun was hot as it beat down into the car. I patiently waited for the clock to strike 3:55 p.m. so I could head inside for my appointment. I scrolled aimlessly through my phone trying to distract myself from my nerves. The seconds ticked by slowly, and it was finally time to go inside to get my vaccine.
As I walked through the barely functioning sliding doors, I was immediately met with smiles. I took a deep breath in while a woman took my temperature. The thermometer read 98.1 degrees Fahrenheit The air smelled dusty, which is expected when you are standing in an abandoned store, but it was also refreshing. As I turned the corner to the main part of the vaccine center, I froze. The clinic felt like it was racing past me, and I was stuck in time. I saw multiple people fully dressed in camo. I was blinded by the fluorescent lighting. My eyes finally settled as I entered the first line. I was quickly waved over by a member of the National Guard. I held the multiple documents in my hands that I was told to bring. My ID, my proof of residency, a copy of my confirmation email, and my QR code for my appointment time.
When I got to the very tall man, he asked only for the code and my signature. He then pointed over to the next line. As I waited, I heard the quiet chatter coming from each table. Quiet voices stated their date of birth, how they felt about needles, and when they should come back. I saw a flag waving out of the corner of my eye that told me it was time for my shot. I sat down at the folding table as I met another member of the National Guard. She greeted me with a smile and a chipper laugh. I started my date of birth and wrote down my name on my vaccine card. She smelled like rubbing alcohol. She asked how I felt about needles, and I laughed as I looked away. She talked to me about graduation and prom and swiftly gave me my vaccine. Just like that, it was over. I walked over to the watch area and posted a picture of me with my vaccine. I could not help but feel excited. The fast-paced environment around me finally slowed down. I forgot about my fear of needles. I felt relieved. I knew the second that my first dose of the vaccine entered my arm that I had made a difference. I was doing my part in putting an end to the pandemic.