Desperately seeking Sherry

This week's thing on social media is to post that you got your Covid shot. It's sort of like "I voted." Or "Here's me with my new grandchild."

People want to celebrate, and I can't say that I blame them. But for those who haven't gotten their jabs, and can't get them yet, the Facebook announcements worsen what is already some pretty major frustration.

Today I got to take my first baby step away from the Have-Not group towards the Haves. I managed to get an appointment to receive The Precious later this week at the Oregon Convention Center. I feel like a kid getting ready to make his First Holy Communion. I need to find one of those little navy blue suits from Orchard Street.

The process of scheduling this appointment was truly bizarre. I wound up wasting a couple of hours on the phone, and burning through 12 hours of stress and annoyance. And this is the new, "improved" scheduling system. You won't get Covid, but you may have a heart attack.

Last week I dutifully registered with the Oregon Health Authority to be notified when an appointment was available for me. Yesterday was the first day I was eligible. I must have gotten lucky, because in the afternoon on that very first day, I got a text message from something called "All4Oregon" telling me that I would receive a phone call from 971-268-5550 in the next 24 hours to schedule my vaccination. I wasn't sure what All4Oregon was, but it sure looked official.

Now, I have my phone set to bounce to voicemail any call coming from a source not in my contact list. If I didn't do this, I'd be spending all day dealing with telemarketing idiots. And so when I saw that this very important call was about to come in, I immediately entered the aforesaid number into my contacts. I was not going to miss that call!

Well, a few hours later, while I was taking a nap with the phone next to my head, the call did come in, but it wasn't from that number. It was from 971-326-8718. My phone did what it was designed to do, kicking the call to voicemail.

When I woke up and saw the missed call, my heart sank. And sure enough: A nice-sounding person named Sherry informed me in a voice message that my appointment was waiting, and I should call her back "tonight or tomorrow." She didn't leave a number, but at one point she said in a mumbly way something like "you looking for our number."

I frantically called back the number the call came from. It was a facility of the Providence Medical Group, of which I am not a patient or customer. Something called their "virtual sick clinic." They were closed. They close at 7. Sherry had called me at 6:12. 

Frustrated and mad as hell, I called the 971-268 number in the text message, but they said they were gone for the day. But I "might try" to call back at 7 in the morning.

At 7 a.m. on the dot, I called the Providence "sick clinic," where Sherry had called me from. I got a message telling me that they couldn't help with vaccine scheduling "on this line." They suggested I call 211. I called 211, and they said they were full up for the day, try back tomorrow at 6 a.m.

I then called the 971-268 number again, and got the same message I got the night before: I "might try" at 7 a.m. It was now close to 8.

Eventually I attempted to call the office of the OHA director, Patrick "DMV" Allen. I tried several times. Busy signal every time.

As the minutes ticked away, I wondered what would happen if I couldn't get through to Sherry. Would they call me back? Would they just assume I wasn't interested and never try contacting me again? Had I lost my place in line?

With nothing better to do, I tried calling every number I could find in the Providence Health Care system. I explained my situation as best I could, several times, which took a while. Two people I talked to were patient and sympathetic, especially the person answering the phone at their Lloyd Center clinic. She was really good. But she couldn't find Sherry. No one could. Sherry Not-Leaving-My-Number was gone.

Having thrown a complete crap fit last evening, I was trying to talk myself into not letting the morning runaround, now approaching two hours long, ruin my entire day today. Just then, my phone dinged, and mirabile dictu, it was "FROM: OCC Vaccine Appointments." It gave me a date and time to show up for the first dose of The Precious.

All righty then!

I don't know if any of my manic phone calling of the morning had anything to do with the appointment actually being made. At this point, it didn't matter much. I had exactly zero say in when my appointment was scheduled, but they've got me at their mercy. I'll make it work.

Let's hope I haven't jinxed anything by writing about it.

If you're in Portland and currently waiting for Godot to come and invite you to the Convention Center, here's my free advice:

1. Sign up with OHA. Tell them to text you.

2. When you get the text, sit by the phone. Turn off all "Do Not Disturb" and spam call blockers.

3. Do not assume what the caller ID on the call will look like. The call may come from a private clinic, or even from someone's house.

4. Don't give out any information to the caller. If they're legit, your OHA signup has everything they need to know.

5. Be prepared to rearrange your schedule to fit theirs.

6. Don't waste your time calling 971-268-5550. Or 211.

7. If Sherry calls, tell her she owes me a couple of hours.


  1. We received the same texts at 2:05pm yesterday, but the only calls we’ve received in the subsequent 24 hours were from car warranty telemarketers. Thanks for the tip that the call may not come from the 5550 number.

    1. My first text came yesterday a little before 2:00 p.m.

    2. And we just got the call, and were able to schedule two appointments together on Sunday. Whoopee!


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