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Tom Blake

By Tom Blake

My partner, Greta, and I have taken the COVID-19 concerns seriously. Both of us have had two COVID vaccinations and a booster shot. Our health seems good. At our age, we’ve got to be careful.

Like most people in the United States, we are concerned about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that is spreading rapidly. Hence, we avoid crowds and have no cruises planned.

On Dec. 16, we decided not to attend the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce’s monthly indoor mixer.

And the office Christmas party scheduled for Dec. 17 at our newspaper publishers’ home was canceled due to renewed COVID-19 concerns. Greta and I had been looking forward to that event, especially to spend time with friends Tom and Dominique.

Tom and I are both Picket Fence Media columnists, and Dominique worked with Greta in special education for years.

We replaced the canceled event that evening by inviting Tom and Dominique to our home for snacks and wine.


Our Christmas week plans were small—joining four of Greta’s family members on the night of Dec. 23, five different Greta family members on Christmas Eve, and my two sisters and a brother-in-law on Christmas Day.


On Dec. 22, mid-afternoon, five days after Tom and Dominique had been at our home, Dominique informed Greta that she had tested positive for COVID-19. And while Greta and I felt no symptoms, we wanted to get a rapid-results COVID test. But where to get a test on such short notice?

I checked online. CVS pharmacy seemed to be the place of choice, but every location in Orange County required an appointment and there were no appointments available before Christmas. We asked Dominique where she had been tested: South County Urgent Care in Talega.

We telephoned. Yes, they were accepting walk-ins, but advised us that they were busy and there would be a wait. Greta and I were in the car within minutes and were there 25 minutes later.

We signed up for the rapid-results test. The nice woman told us it would be an hour wait, that we could sit in our car if we preferred. She would text us when it was our turn. That’s what we did.

I’m about as patient as a puppy. After three minutes of sitting in the car, I said to Greta: “Let’s take a drive and see if we can find a place where we can grab a soda.”

I wasn’t familiar with Talega, so I just started driving. Within five minutes, we saw a shopping center with a couple of restaurants. One place sold poke bowls.

We ordered a poke bowl and drove back to the parking lot of South County Urgent Care. We had a delightful, delicious, light dinner—each using different forks and paper plates—in the front seat of the car.

Shortly after our meal, the text came; Urgent Care was ready for us. We went in and filled out the paperwork. Each rapid-results test cost $100. The friendly doctor said we’d have results in 10 minutes.

So, there we sat, for the longest 10 minutes of our lives. We kept thinking about all the “What ifs …?”

And then the doctor returned and handed us our results: both negative. What a relief.

The first thing Greta did in the car was call Dominique to tell her our results. Dominique was ecstatic, so pleased we were OK and that she was feeling well.

At home, we had a toast to good health. We felt fortunate that our publishers had canceled the office Christmas party.

And our three Christmas visits went off without a hitch.

Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at To comment:

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