I have seldom worked so hard to achieve something I don't want to do. Yes, I'm talking about getting the Covid vaccine. Having lived through all the various illnesses of recent years, like SARS, bird flu, and swine flu, I knew Covid, or Nouveau Corona, was a serious thing for people with underlying illnesses, but I can't help wondering if the whole thing would have blown up so if it hadn't been for Facebook and Twitter. Oh the halcyon days of only Swine flu! (see film below)
That being said, after much deliberation I finally decided to take the damned vaccine - if only to be able to travel. Side effects be damned!
Then began the fight to get the thing I didn't want. After many phone calls, a visit to the Norwegian consulate (to pick up my passport but I thought they could give me some vaccine related pointers) I finally landed on: You CAN'T get a vaccine unless you are in the public health system.
But I can't enter the public system because I have private insurance. Unless I go to my local public clinic, where I need a social client number, and to have that, I need to be in the public health system. I tell you, Kafka would have been lime green with envy! Not even he could have invented the intricacies of the system here in Mallorca.
Seeing that the clinic is only a few minutes' walk from my house I went around there anyway, carrying a bag full of documentation to show that I live here, and quacking in Spanish "I would like to get the vaccine..." Ha! Talk to the hand! said the granite forehead nurse (the lower part of her face was covered in a mask, naturally). I was sent away with a flea in my ear the size of a hippo.
A new round of phone calls and asking around ensued, and everyone said the same: You MUST go through your local health clinic. They MUST register you.
By this time I was getting just a little irritated, so armed with a trolley full of documentation I strode back to the same clinic, saying "I would like to register to take the vaccine." Aha! After much sighing on the nurse's part but only half an hour later I stumbled out blinking in the sunshine, registered and with yet a new phone number to call to book the actual shot. After which I must book new appointments to get the certificate, after which... but I'll burn, nay, pulverise, those half a dozen bridges when I get to them.
This incident, if an 'incident' can stretch over a two week period, made me think about Cantonese and how I should have followed my own advice that I always gave my students: If you speak with confidence, it doesn't matter if the sentence isn't 100% grammatically correct. Act as if you can already speak Cantonese. Act as if you understand everything people tell you, and eventually you will.
Head held high, purposeful Spanish spoken with confidence while being prepared to say "I'm not leaving until..." , pretend to understand everything they ask me at machine gun speed - it worked!
(Of course it also helped that I said "I would like to register myself for (eventually getting) the vaccine" instead of "I would like to get the vaccine." For how in the world should it be the nurse's job to guess that it was registration I needed, the first time?)
Hong Kong's efficient civil service, all is forgiven!
Talking about Hong Kong: Learn Cantonese the Natural Way - from a Norwegian!
Today's Cantonese: 打針 da tsam (hit, slam, punch needle) - have an injection