Hard as it may be to believe, an irreparable JennAir oven was responsible for me scoring the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine and possibly saving my life.

At 6:29 p.m. on Thursday night I received a call from an unrecognizable San Diego number. I’m so fed up with Robo calls that I no longer answer my phone unless its someone I know, or it’s from an identified source I’m possibly interested in speaking with. I made an exception because I’d been assured by JennAir on Wednesday that I’d be receiving a call within two business days from a representative to discuss options to replace my less than five-year-old JennAir oven for which there are no replacement parts available to fix my broken broiler.

No way I’d risk missing the call to resolve an issue that’s been dragging for months. Although JennAir is based in Michigan, I thought perhaps they have a call center in San Diego.

“May I speak with Eric Starkman, please?” asked an incredibly cheerful woman.

Yes! I thought to myself. JennAir makes crummy ovens, but the company’s customer service people always ooze with warmth and compassion. This was the call I’d been waiting with bated breath for.

“This is Eric,” I replied, conveying an enthusiastic response.

Life-saving stove

“Hi this is Marianne from One Medical in San Diego. I’m calling to see if you might be interested in coming in tomorrow morning for a Moderna Covid vaccine. We have an opening at 10:20. You meet California’s revised eligibility requirements.”

Are f…ing kidding me? I thought to myself but chose not to verbalize. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but here was my immediate response.

“Any chance I can get the Pfizer vaccine?” My preference for the Pfizer vaccine was based entirely on the fact that I’ve seen Pfizer’s vaccine mentioned in the news more than Moderna’s.

“No, we only have an available dose of the Moderna vaccine, and we have an opening at 10:20 tomorrow. Are you interested?”

“Can you give me 10 minutes to think about?” I asked.

“Okay,” Marianne replied. “I will call you back in 10 minutes.”

Bruce Olmscheid

One Medical is a growing chain of medical offices I’ve previously written about quite favorably. My doctor, Bruce Olmscheid, launched the company’s Los Angeles area offices and relocated more than a year ago to establish One Medical’s operations in San Diego.  I switched my primary One Medical office to that city so I could keep Olmscheid as my doctor.

Until recently, I wasn’t open to receiving the Covid vaccine given the miraculous speed with which it was developed. I’ve lost trust in the U.S. government’s commitment and capabilities to protect me, and this distrust isn’t aimed solely at the Trump Administration.

I’m equally weary of the incoming Biden/Harris administration. I recall with great clarity Harris sneering during the vice-presidential debate that she’d never take a Covid vaccine approved by the Trump Administration. Harris two weeks ago shamefully posed for the cameras doing just that.  Dr. Fauci has always struck me as an insatiable media hound who blows with the political winds, a perception this article reaffirmed. I recently published my dim view of California’s political and healthcare leaders, particularly Governor Gavin Newsom and those in Los Angeles County.

The turning point for me about possibly getting the Covid vaccine was reading an article that Israel plans to have the entire country inoculated with it by the end of March. Israel has an unrivaled healthcare infrastructure in place to protect its citizens and inoculating the entire country is a “bet the Kibbutz” strategy. If Israel’s healthcare leaders deem the benefits of the Covid vaccine outweigh the risks, I was inclined to trust their judgment.

Still, I thought I had months to make a final decision because the leaders of L.A. County feel no moral or ethical pressure to get the Covid vaccines in their possession into the arms of area residents. In the 10 minutes I had before Marianne called again, I reached out to my brother-in-law, a world-class doctor, clinician, and researcher in Toronto who recently received the Pfizer vaccine, and my cousin Rob, the only person I know who reads more than I do.

My brother-in-law instantly advised I get the vaccine; Cousin Rob said he’d drive me to San Diego if I could get him a dose as well. My decision was clear.

Ten minutes passed and no call from Marianne. The hazards of looking a gift horse in the mouth, I thought to myself.

One Medical’s San Diego Office

Finally, my cell rang. It was Marianne.

“Can I still get it? I blurted out before she could speak.

“Yes,” she said.

My early morning trip to San Diego was traffic-free, but I still arrived late because I spent nearly 20 minutes looking for street parking. How ironic that the woman who administered my vaccine was a kind-hearted Israeli named Daphna.

“How are you?” Daphna asked.

“I’m scared,” I admitted.

Daphna responded that she’d taken the Moderna vaccine, her mother worked for the company, and that taking the dose was not only protecting myself, but also the community.

“We need a sufficient number of people vaccinated to achieve herd immunity,” she said.

“Let’s do it,” I replied with confidence.

I barely felt Daphna’s inoculation. I was light-headed afterwards, but possibly because I was dehydrated from avoiding water during the two-hour trip to San Diego and lagging from a restless three hours sleep because I feared the multiple alarms I’d set wouldn’t awaken me.

Rabbi Weber

Afterwards, I went outside to sit down, and instantly received an unexpected call from Yehoshua Weber, a former Toronto rabbi whose inspirational leadership I’ve previously profiled. Rabbi Weber was calling to thank me for a recent donation I made to his charity. I confess to wondering if perhaps there was a causal relationship between my donation and my Moderna vaccine good fortune.

In yet another irony, the first news story I came across while resting was about 23 elderly people dying in Norway from the Pfizer vaccine.

I was exhausted driving back to L.A., but fortunately I had something to keep me focused. Midway home I received a call from a JennAir representative, who found a potential replacement oven. That was great news, but in the greater scheme of things, a broken oven no longer was as big a deal as it was 24 hours earlier.