The Saga of the Covid Testing Station

Since Christmas day, our daughter Kate and I (and the following day Jim), have been feeling poorly. Scratchy, sore throats, mild headaches, aches and pains, but no fever. “Generally icky” is the medical term, I believe. There was one at-home covid test in the house, so Kate took it and it returned a negative result. But the general ick continued for a couple of days, even getting slightly worse, so we felt a test for all of us would be prudent. Making an appointment at a local pharmacy was easy, but the soonest available would have been Wednesday, with results another 2 to 3 days after. Our son Nathaniel sent us a link to make an appointment with a drive-thru covid testing station, and we were able to get in right away, so into the car and away we went for a quick nasal swab!

As it happens, for this testing station appointments are recommended, but not required. Oh, the difference this makes. When we arrived there were maybe 200 cars ahead of us in line, looped all around a shopping center and ending at the testing station, inside a drive-thru oil change shop. Two nurses, in full PPE, were handling the paperwork, pricking fingers, and swabbing noses—not a quick process. Nobody was directing traffic. Since the line of cars crossed two entrances to the shopping center, the necessary gaps meant that newcomers were cutting the line, creating frustration for those who’d been waiting for hours already.

We surveyed the situation and realized right away that we needed more gas since the tank was running low, so Jim stood in our spot in line while Kate and I went to fill up. After we returned, Kate hopped out of the car to encourage a car a few spots ahead of us to move up in line. I should mention that this is happening in San Antonio, Texas, where it was a sunny 70 degrees out. Instead of returning to our car after the one moved up, Kate walked the entire line and began directing traffic.

Many people thanked her. Others weren’t so appreciative. One man offered her a thousand dollars to let him cut the line—she didn’t.

We’d arrived at 3 pm and it was almost 5 when Jim and I checked the website for the testing station: their hours are 9 am to 5 pm. There were still 50-or-so cars ahead of us. The nurses soldiered on. Kate kept directing traffic. I texted Nathaniel and asked him to run by the house to let the dogs out and take the simmering soup off the stove, which, thankfully, he was able to do. Around 6 pm one of the nurses started walking the line of cars explaining that they didn’t have enough test kits to continue past the next few carloads, but they would be open again in the morning so please come back then. Kate delivered the news beginning with cars behind ours. For one car filled with non-English speakers she pulled up a translation on her phone and read the news to them in Spanish.

We pulled around near where she was in the parking lot, expecting to head home and try again in the morning. But when Kate got in the car she told us to pull to the end of the now- very short line. The nurses took note of what she’d been doing, and they not only offered her a job, but told her we could get the last tests of the day. We still had some time to wait as the folks ahead of us were tested, one carload at a time. Finally, at 7:30 we pulled into the little lube shop and had our fingers pricked and noses swabbed by the very tired and so-glad-to-be-finished heroes of the day. They’d started at 8:30 in the morning and worked right through the day without a lunch break.

We got home five and a half hours after we’d left—appointment times thrown to the wind, but tested, nonetheless. It was a tiring process, but really only an inconvenience. Since we’re all vaccinated, and I’m boosted, we will be fine, but we need to know if isolation is possible for the sake of others.

We should receive our results shortly.

I praise God for the common grace gifts of medical “miracles” such as vaccinations and testing kits, and the heroism of our frontline workers.

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