They don’t consider themselves exceptional or even special for what they have done. It wasn’t really planned; instead just evolved out of circumstances surrounding the pandemic. But when a Mattapoisett couple found themselves able to help, they simply faced the need and made a difference.
We’ll call them Mrs. BC and Mr. RC because they prefer to remain as anonymous as possible. They are a young couple with a small child living a quiet life in the suburbs, but they are also people whose entire lives and most likely all of their education and professional training has included the use of computers. So, it is no small wonder that, when it became necessary to use a computer to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments, the couple was ready, willing, and able to help their own immediate family. Before long, however, they would find themselves helping many more.
Mrs. BC is a member of the Mattapoisett Woman’s Club. The organization’s membership includes many senior citizens. As the rush to try and secure a vaccine appointment became an Orwellian nightmare for the masses of Massachusetts residents ages 70 and older, MWC members were sharing their trials and tribulations trying to use a computer to schedule a vaccine appointment. Mrs. BC said she could help.
“At first, it was difficult,” Mrs. BC began to explain. “The system made it difficult to find and schedule an appointment before it was taken.” She said her husband has always been good on websites, especially when it comes to scoring tickets for professional sports or concerts. “He got us tickets for the World Series when the Red Sox were in it.”
But when it came to scoring vaccine appointments for family and friends, Mr. RC needed to study the platforms, check blogs to see what other people were doing to get an appointment and use social media to learn the tricks being employed by others to reach and grab the brass ring – a vaccine appointment.
“He found it was better to focus on one site, so he focused on Circuit City in Dartmouth (a Massachusetts state vaccination center). He was getting appointments in under nine seconds,” Mrs. BC proclaimed. She explained her husband had found that the combination of tenacious refreshing of the platform and fast response to questions and filling in necessary personal details at lightning speeds worked.
“He found tricks to move through the website quickly,” she said.
Mrs. BC said that at night, after putting their baby to sleep, they would stay up. Mr. RC worked on the computer, and she talked to people about their appointment or need to set one. “He had to be calm, the applications had to be perfect, or he’d have to start over again,” she said. But Mr. RC’s ability to remain at peace, not feel anxious, and be at complete ease with the computer and the platform paid off.
After getting appointments for their family and friends, word spread quickly, and soon Mrs. BC and Mr. RC were booking appointments for parents of friends, grandparents of friends, and on to acquaintances and their extended families. From February up to the launch of the state’s pre-booking program, the couple assisted 150 people across the south coast in securing vaccine appointments.
Before everything was said and done, Mrs. BC and Mr. RC found themselves not only booking the appointments but teaching others how to manipulate the platform to gain access.
“Now, with the preregistration, those tricks can’t be used,” Mrs. BC explained. But also, the ease of obtaining a vaccine appointment has become greater for the average computer user.
“It’s kind of a bummer, though,” Mrs. BC said with a chuckle as she and her husband were ready to do battle with a computer system that held most of its secrets deep within its algorithms. “We’ll have to preregister.”
MWC member Carole Clifford, who knows the couple, said, “They took the anxiety away from people who weren’t able to make appointments themselves. They selflessly helped the greater community – a very civic-minded couple.”
One thinks Mrs. BC and Mr. RC may not fully appreciate the gift they have given so many. For them, it was a mere matter of using a tool that has been part of their lives since the beginning – a personal computer. But 150 people know what this couple has done and are grateful beyond words.
By Marilou Newell