Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Ask Natalie: Put your husband on a waiting list for a vaccine that he doesn’t want?

DEAR NATALIE: My husband and I are fighting over the vaccine. We both want to get it, but neither of us qualify yet in the state that we live in. But my friend was able to get us on a list that let us know if there were extra vaccines being thrown out. It is much better to use them than to lose them, she said! I agreed wholeheartedly and signed us up for the waitlist. Well, the next day, she said she had extra. I told her we would both be there at the end of the day, and my husband refused to go. He said that we needed to “wait our turn” and that we were taking them away from people who needed the vaccine more. I told him that we all need the vaccine and they were just going to be thrown away. Well, we got into a fight about it and I left to get the vaccine alone. When I got there, she was mad at me because he canceled last minute. She could have called another person on the list had I told her. But I explained that I didn’t know he was going to react that way at the last minute. She just mumbled that it was “fine” when we both knew it wasn’t. So now she is annoyed with me, my husband is annoyed with me and I’m annoyed with my husband. How do I get him to see that waiting it out isn’t the best approach if there is a vaccine available?

—VAX ME

DEAR VAX ME: Because this is all uncharted territory, the etiquette surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine is fuzzy at best. I agree with your friend. It is much better that the vaccines get used instead of tossed. So, if you are on a list that can help reduce waste, I’m all for that. Your husband, on the other hand, has  his own philosophy. While I don’t agree with him, I understand where he is coming from. But where this fell apart was the miscommunication around the situation. You never wrote in your letter whether you actually told him you had put his name on the list. Maybe you assumed he would be OK with it, but clearly he wasn’t. If anything, this is a lesson for next time. Instead of answering for both of you, make sure you talk to him about where he stands on an issue before committing him to something he may or may not be willing to participate in. What’s done is done, however. You already apologized to your friend, so I would just move on. Hopefully she doesn’t hold a grudge. In the meantime, sit down and have a conversation with your husband about what happened. Acknowledge that you may have misunderstood his position. I would also reiterate that while you won’t make decisions for him moving forward, you hope that he will reconsider having his name on the list if he can get a vaccine sooner. The sooner we are all vaccinated, the sooner we can enjoy our lives a little more again. It’s a win-win for everyone, but ultimately it is his choice. 

DEAR NATALIE: I am a female senior citizen and my 90+ year old husband and I had a horrible experience in the vegetable aisle as we were shopping in a grocery story recently. A young man, who looked to be in his 30s, started to yell at me accusing me of "cutting him off" in the aisle.  According to my husband -- who was walking behind me as I was walking straight down the aisle -- the man approached on my right and probably expected me to allow him to walk ahead of me.  With my mask and the hood of my coat somewhat blocking my peripheral vision, I honestly didn't even see him. I immediately apologized, but he continued to yell, still accusing me of cutting him off.  It didn't make sense for me to engage an enraged, much larger physically fit man over such a small issue so I apologized again. But I continued to hear his rant to other customers. My husband was frightened and asked "What was that all about?" We quickly left the vegetable aisle without tomatoes. Out of curiosity, I would like to know if I had the right of way? If I were a car traveling straight on a road and a car was driving perpendicular towards me on my right, wouldn't I have the right of way? I hope to never be in this position again but I would like to know proper protocol as it appears as if chivalry is dead.—NO TOMATOES DEAR NO TOMATOES: I’m so sorry this guy was such a jerk to you and your husband at the grocery store. I can’t imagine having that kind of a reaction. Even if you had bumped into him, he didn’t need to respond to you with such anger. The fact that he was so hostile over having to wait in an aisle for an elderly couple to gather tomatoes says a lot more about him than it does about you. I fear that this past year has made us even more isolated, angry and on edge than ever before. I fear that people’s frustrations are running over in uncontrollable ways and they are taking it out on people that they know can’t stand up to them. You did nothing wrong and you shouldn’t have been verbally attacked in the store. I wish for all of us that we give one another a little more space and grace as we continue to navigate these waters of life during and after this pandemic. We are all in this together and I wish we would start acting like it. A little kindness and patience goes a long way.

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