Last weekend we did battle with the evil forces of online circumvention. Despite the cyber warriors’ best efforts to throw a wrench in the works and thwart our worthy goal, we won,
Well, sort of.
An ongoing effect of the pandemic is the requirement to take a COVID-19 test before undertaking many activities. In our case, my wife Diane required a negative test before she could have an outpatient procedure done.
At first I thought this was no big deal, and I understood why the test was required.
The fact that the test had to be conducted within 72 hours of the procedure didn’t initially appear to be a problem. The only potential issue we saw was that it had to be administered either Saturday or Sunday.
Diane made calls or checked online with a number of places, and they either couldn’t guarantee the results would be available on time, weren’t administering the needed test at their facility, or wouldn’t give her the test because the order didn’t come from someone affiliated with their facility. The last reason, in my opinion, is pure bovine excrement, but what can you do.
Finally, after several attempts, she found a local pharmacy that had the test in stock, and had appointments available. On its face that seemed great, but there was one hitch: we had to make the appointment online. This absurdity, Diane was told, was a strict federal government mandate.
That placed us squarely in the sights of the cybermated saboteurs.
At first the website seemed fine. We navigated the various pages and figured out the test she needed – but then were directed to pharmacies in the Indianapolis area.
I wandered the website for a while, and when I tried backing up I noticed a location box I had missed. So I switched Indianapolis to Bryan, repeated all my work, and then stared at the screen in wonderment.
It again directed me to Indianapolis,
So I called the pharmacy back, endured the interminable voice directions, and finally was able to speak to a human being.
This very nice employee talked me through the process, directing me to a second location box. After I again switched the location to Bryan I was given the local pharmacy site but still couldn’t get an appointment. Luckily the employee stayed on the phone, and pointed out that I had to select the type of test again farther down, even though I could see I already had selected the test.
I could then select an appointment time, but next was faced to race against the clock as I answered a seemingly endless series of health and insurance questions. Finally, with three minutes to spare, the appointment was set.
At this point it was humans one, cyber bullies zip.
When we showed up for the appointment a rather rude pharmacist told Diane pointedly that the test could only be administered at the drive-through, and we would have to go outside, get in our car and drive around to the window. Fortunately a much more kindly pharmacist stepped in and agreed to administer the test inside.
The result did not show up in Diane’s email as promised, so she called back and was told she had tested negative and the email would eventually come. When it didn’t arrive the next day I called and was told it was a technical glitch in the automated system and could not be corrected.
Thankfully, the human element again intervened and she was able to print the results and email them to me, and I was able to print an old fashioned copy. At last we had the precious results in hand.
Don Allison is an author, historian and retired editor of The Bryan Times. He can be reached at www.fadedbanner.com.