From the Front Line in the War Against the Plague

The humans, striving to make up for all their (many) shortcomings, have been volunteering at the local vaccination hub. Sigyn and I have tagged along today to see how things are going. The operation is set up at the local convention center. It looks very calm, does it not?

That’s because the big white tents aren’t in this photo, or all the volunteers running about self-importantly in simply garish yellow high-vis vests. Or the long lines of cars, the traffic cones, and general hurly-burly of trying to give out over 1,000 doses per day.

Sigyn, what are you looking at? Oh, that thing.

They say it’s supposed to be a sunflower. Couldn’t prove it by me. It’s certainly…big.

The humans started out volunteering in the parking lot, handing out paperwork and directing traffic on a very cold and windy morning earlier this month. But then the call went out for data-entry volunteers and they looked at one another and said, “That sounds like a cushy, air-conditioned, sit-on-your-fundament sort of job” and they quickly volunteered.

It is also very much the sort of thing that a Loki with free time on his hands can amuse himself with.

On her first shift, the female couldn’t get her password to work for love nor money. She tried changing her password. Three times. No luck. She had to get the supervisor to log her in, which was delightfully embarrassing.

In store for her on today’s shift:

  • I’ve been jostling elbows and making pens run out and encouraging folks to write against their steering wheels in their cars, so a good number of the forms are more than a little illegible.
  • I made a super-special form where the client spelled his name three different ways, and the vaccine assistant helpfully corrected it in the margin–a fourth way.
  • When some folks couldn’t remember the year they were born, I suggested that 2021 was a good answer.
  • I made sure one vaccine assistant recorded the “B” in the lot number like an 8

The software is called ImmTrac, which is short for “Immediately TRying to Annoy and Confuse.”

Starts out simple enough.

The humans have become, it must be admitted, blazingly fast at whipping through the forms. If it’s someone’s first dose, they need to enter all the data, like so. (I’m pretending I’m a client. Obviously, I am possessed of a superior constitution and am immune to all of Midgard’s various pestilences.)

I think I’m the only one who would have a zero as the first digit of their year.

The next screen has room for all of the address, phone, county, and so on. Just to make life more interesting, I’ve seen to it that various of the quickly-growing towns around here have slopped over into adjacent counties, so the humans have to stop and make sure that something’s not an error. GoogleMaps comes in handy for trying to figure out what that street-name squiggle could be, and the zip-code-looker-upper is useful as well. The next page has spaces for the information about the vaccine dose–date, maker, and lot number. You can be sure I like to make sure that all the lot numbers are the same throughout a whole shift–except for three or four that aren’t. Then there’s a screen where the information can be checked, and then–behold!

An electronic pat on the head!

But that’s boring. I had a snoop ’round the software, and if the client’s name or birthdate is too close to someone already in the system, that other person’s record will come up. For example, a Betty Smith born on June 6, 1945 would match any other Bettys (Betties?) born on that day, regardless of surname. Or she might match other Betty Smiths born on different days. Or some Elizabeths… The humans then have to click the box that says “No, I’m doing someone new.” They can get aaaaaalll the way to the end of the record and then get THE DREADED RED BOX, which is actually more of a pink box with red lettering, full of a WARNING that the record may match someone with this and that and the other thing the same, or this and the other thing different but some other thing the same or, et cetera ad frustratum. The only recourse is to back all the way out to the beginning, and enter someone else, handing the offending form off to a supervisor who can use a more detailed version of the software to do overrides and ferret out just what is going on.

If the shift is doing second doses, the humans have to put in the person’s name and birthdate and make sure they’re in the system. Sometimes there is someone matchy and they have to chose the right person. Sometimes the person doesn’t have a first-dose record in the system. Sometimes the person was entered into the system for the first dose incorrectly and the humans have to try to guess how it might have been mis-entered and find the record that way. Sometimes everything is all there as it should be and they can quickly jump to the second dose information and put that in and then…

That’s it. Just “error“. I’m so proud of that! It’s another of my special touches. All the operators were getting a lot of these on every shift. Finally the human male and female figured out that I made it so that the program won’t let you just skip past the correct info page and load up the new vaccine info. Where’s the fun in that? No, they have to always choose “edit” and at least scroll through the info, even if they’re not going to add or amend anything.

And of course I couldn’t let that be the end of my fun. For first or second dose, if they get all the way to the “do a final check of the info screen” and discover they have, in fact, mistyped something, I made sure nothing can be edited from that screen. Nope! Back they have to go and make the corrections on a previous screen! And if they suddenly realize, after submitting a completed record, that something was in error–say for example, the next form in the stack is for the spouse of the previous person and the spouse has legible writing–guess what happens if they try to look the person up and make the correction?

That’s right! A RED BOX ERROR that says, “You’ve already had this vacciiiiiiine!”

Ehehehehehe! And here the humans thought they wouldn’t have to endure software nightmares once they retired! Pfft! It’s like they don’t even know me.

Well, that was a good morning’s work. The humans are pulling a double shift today, which means an exciting boxed lunch, courtesy of some local eatery. Sigyn actually likes box lunches. She enjoys the element of surprise.

Surprise! Your tomato fell off.

My mischief here is nearly done. There’s nothing left for the human female to do except register for next week’s shifts. I think I’ll put her down for all of them.

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