Immunization Volunteer
I'm going to tell a lie.

I took the picture at the right many years ago at an immunization clinic sponsored by my Rotary club. Imagine a room full of preschool kids all waiting nervously for their first shots. Imagine how they react when the kid who is getting the shot breaks out crying.

We Rotarians were traffic controllers. There were two nurses giving shots and one was.... Well, I don't know what to say about her. She waited until the kids were in front of her to prepare the needles she used, she prepared them with deliberate ceremony, and she jabbed the kids with the needle. If I'd been one of the kids I'd have been scared too.

Afterwards she'd grab a handful of the candy we'd bought and stuff it in the kid's hand. As if that made up for her performance.

I do not like to see kids in pain. My instant reaction was to become a clown. I have one magic trick, and, courtesy of my daughter, some age appropriate games to play with preschoolers. At first it was to distract the kids from the needles and the nurse. Then as I gradually got a sense of what I was there for it was to prepare them; "This will hurt, but not as much as you think. Here, pinch my arm; that's about how much it will hurt."

I like to think I was doing a good thing; helping kids learn to handle the kinds of pain that protect us. Choosing a present small pain to avoid a much larger pain in the future. I wasn't able to prepare them for the nurse; I have no idea how to do that, but I do know we Rotarians were doing a good thing; giving shots to kids who otherwise couldn't afford it.

The lie? So far I've made my behavior sound lily pure. It wasn't. I went to the clinic originally to take public relations pictures for Rotary. I'm the kind of photographer who works at their craft; I wait for the right moment, take several pictures from different angles, and think a lot about the picture I want to get. I had a pretty good expectation of what the little kid in the picture was going to do.

I don't feel too badly about it: public relations is a way to get people to come to the clinic and it's a way to mobilize Rotarians and others to be of service in their community. That, too, is a good thing and I made that choice. But I abandoned this child to take some pictures of him in pain and that is a thought to make me humble.

Morality is never simple.