The U.S. is fucking up vaccine distribution on just about every level. It’s not much of a shock, given the government failures at every stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, which were predictable from the very beginning. It is, however, extremely frustrating, and as millions of us wait for our doses, we’ve developed a running joke: Put someone else in charge of the rollout. Suggestions so far include drug dealers, “a lesbian,” Hollywood assistants and Spirit Halloween.
Any of these appointments would seem more promising than the months ahead. And finally, this week, someone put the meme into practice: Mayor Will Haynie of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, called Jerry Walkowiak, manager of the local Chick-fil-A, to help untangle the hour-long traffic at a vaccine site. The solution had been staring us in the face the whole time: Who better to run your drive-thru than fast food employees? Jerry, of course, immediately got things back on track.
At a moment when Democrats are moving to (slowly) raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour, tiresome blowhards are logging on to their social accounts every day to argue that Americans earning the base rate — and fast food workers in particular — don’t deserve more money. Sometimes it’s framed as fear of price inflation: There’s the myth that Taco Bell will have to charge $38 for burritos to fairly compensate its staff, for example. Sometimes it’s simple, classist contempt for the people who make your hamburgers: How dare they hope to afford the basic amenities in life?! But lo and behold, it is the cooks and cashiers of McDonald’s et al who have put their lives at significant risk to feed a nation through this crisis, and it is the franchise managers who know how to turn a dysfunctional vaccine center into a model of efficiency.
I mean, really, if you’ve ever seen how a Popeyes employee handles an abusive drunk customer at 2 a.m., you’re aware that the job requires almost limitless patience and the authoritative muscle to maintain order in times of chaos. We should already be paying this labor force triple their current wages to sort out the mess wherever a line for essential health care is backed up. Oh, and they should get priority themselves, too.
That’s it, final answer: Put fast food workers in charge of vaccine stuff. Then our only problem will be running out of the damn shots.