Friday, March 13, 2015


"Please be advised the JC has completed the initial medical clearance for employment."

Thus read the email I was copied on, informing the powers that be at the hospital where I start Monday that I am an unlikely vector or potential victim of disease.

I had had most of the childhood diseases: mumps, measles, chicken pox, the first two when I was three and ten, respectively, and the last when I was about 15.  I'm pretty sure I've since had the MMR vaccine afterward  to cover the remaining "German" measles.

I contracted measles the same week they were vaccinating kids in my school, back in the days when keeping kids from contracting and spreading horrible and potentially fatal diseases was more important than satisfying paranoid college-educated parents who equate unfounded conspiracy theories and willful medical ignorance with esoteric and secret truths. When I hear of parents refusing to vaccinate their kids, I want to force them into a week of neck and throat pain so bad they can't open their mouth, followed by a week of a fever so agonizing they feel like their bones are smoldering under their blistered flesh. And then have someone open a shade, because then they get the fun brain damage.


Because I had no record of childhood tests and/or vaccinations, I had to go into the Employee Health Office for a TB test and a blood draw for the MMR titre. I did this the day before yesterday, and was told to return any time today so that they could look at my TB-test site.

I decided to use today as a test run of my work commute. To be at work by my appointed 8:30 am start time, I'd cross-referenced bus and train schedules to see, happily, that if I took the first bus of the morning, it would bring me to the commuter train by 7:03, giving me ample time to make the  train that arrived in Boston with enough time to pick up the subway line to work with time to spare, Perfect, perfect, perfect.

Here's what really happened.

I got up a 6, was out the door  and at the bus stop two blocks at the end of the street with plenty of time to spare. Caught the bus, got to the train station, and five minutes before the train was due, the sign flashed that it was going to be delayed and arrive in 30 minutes. I walked to a new coffee shop, had a muffin and coffee (both vegan!!!), then walked back to the platform, caught the train, then the subway, and arrived at my destination a full three hours after I'd left my house.

As I checked in with the same woman I'd met the first time, I suggested that maybe Skype would be a good alternative.

"Oh, people send us pictures," she nodded.

"I could have sent a picture?" I asked. "That would have been cool."

"Where did you come in from?" she asked,

I told her.

Her eyes bulged. "You came all the way here from there just for a read?"

"Yep. I was also using it as a test run to see whether I could avoid involving my uncle, but given what happened today, I'll need to plan on taking the earlier train since any delay on the one that would normally be perfect means I'm screwed in terms of getting in on time, and the buses don't run any earlier."

A nurse had poked her head around the corner of her desk cubicle. "I come in from the South Shore. It happens to me all the time. Everyone who works here commutes. They understand."

"I know, but for starting a new job? Working for [name of person]? I don't want to be That Girl."

"Oh [my boss's name] is AWESOME," said the first woman.

"That whole team is great," said the nurse.

This was great to hear. But still. I don't want to worry about being late. I need to find a better way. There are condos right near where I'll be working. A 1-BR costs only $495K.

I got back to my home town, and, thanks to the amazing transit planning of whoever designed the local system, the bus I needed left the station as scheduled, three minutes before the commuter train arrived. So back to the cafe for some black-bean soup and a conversation with the owner. Then back to the bus stop and home.

I walked in the door exactly five hours since leaving.

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