2 hours and 45 minutes.
That is how long Tboy, Tgirl and I stood in line to get our flu shots at Kaiser today.
I left work early today, picked up the kids from their respective day cares (Tgirl went to daycare today instead of coming to my classroom as she has been doing everyday the past few weeks - possibly hoping I would forget about flu shots?) and zipped out on the freeway to the Kaiser clinic that we usually go to. Got a great parking spot and got the kids out of the car. Walked around the corner to the front door only to discover.... the line out the door, around the far corner of the building and doubling back toward the door again!
We hurried into line. I mean really, how long can it take the line to move? They only do the flu shots two days a week so surely they know how to move the line along quickly.
After about 10 minutes and only moving a couple of feet, the woman behind me left her husband and kids and went to investigate at the front of the line. She came back announcing that at the front they said they had been waiting for an hour and twenty minutes. She and her husband decided to pull their kids out of school early the next day and go to a different clinic.
It was chaos.
Clearly, no one else expected such a line. There were kids running all over the place, crying, squealing, and literally climbing the walls (one boy was holding on to a sign post and walking his feet up the wall horizontally - apparently his parents didn't care, no one stopped him).
The Kaiser people did try to thin the line out and send any family group with all kids 12 or older, over to the adult flu shot line in the next building. They said it was much shorter. Unfortunately, there weren't many in the line who qualified.
Tboy and Tgirl had each brought a book (though to be honest, Tboy's was a chapter book belonging to his sister with very few pictures that he is just pretending to read). It is amazing how uninterested Tgirl can be in reading when there is literally nothing else to do.
And stress out about how much the shot is going to hurt.
While her brother whines.
And begs and pleads to be allowed to run around on the muddy grass with all the other little hoodlums.
Actually, while they each had their moments, they did amazingly well.
We did a lot of people watching. Tgirl ate some tic tacs. Tboy played a couple of rounds of a matching game on my iPhone. Tboy watched a couple of episodes of Sesame Street's "word of the day" podcasts I had on my iPhone. Tgirl discovered that even though I had my old iPod, since I hadn't used it since I got my iPhone a month or so ago, the battery had run out and so it was useless (it is charging right now).
And then for the last 45 minutes, the 11 year old in line behind us entertained Tboy (and Tgirl as well, though she pretended to not be interested) with "random facts."
"Random fact," he would say, "Walt Disney was originally going to call Mickey Mouse Mortimer. But then he changed his mind. Now Mickey's arch nemesis, other than Pete, is named Mortimer. Arch nemesis means his main enemy." Apparently he had just finished reading a biography on Walt Disney.
He drove his mother crazy, his voice was a bit loud. And I can see how hearing these "random facts" all the time would get annoying. But to me, they were wonderful. They helped entertain and pass the time.
When it was finally our turn, the kids freaked out. Thankfully they put us in a little exam room to get our shots instead just behind a screen where most of the inoculations were taking place. They both were crying so loud the nurse shut the door. Then, once they got their shots they both stopped crying and said it wasn't so bad.
And while the line was ridiculous, all of the Kaiser personnel that we came into contact with were friendly, cheerful, and kind. I can't imagine it was easy to stay that way dealing with all of us cranky line waiters.
So, in the end, all three of us got our seasonal flu shots and the kids got their H1N1 in a nasal mist. As a healthy adult with no chronic conditions and who doesn't care for an infant, I didn't qualify for one of those due to shortages.
And in one month.... we get to go back again and stand in line again to get the kids their boosters.
This time, we will be prepared!