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Hunting a COVID travel test

Hunting a COVID travel test

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Today’s missive recounts an adventure that makes Homer’s Odyssey seem like a walk to the end of your driveway. It details comfort gradually eroding into “What the heck?” and eventually despair.

It all started simply enough with a planned trip to Canada and the necessary precursors to flying and then crossing the border into Canada. I was aware that in addition to proof of a vaccine I would also need a negative COVID test which must have been completed less than 72 hours before the flight. Piece of cake thought I and off I went on a Friday to what we refer to as a Doc-in-the box.

There I told the receptionist that I needed a COVID test for a pending trip. She replied, “Oh, then you need a travel test and we have to send those to the lab. You get the results the next day.” “Fine, I’ll get it Tuesday and pick it up Wednesday.” That should be within the 72-hour period.

Monday I went back to the very same clinic only to be told that they don’t do the travel test ...same clinic, same window, different girl. This was troublesome as now time was becoming a factor. I went to a second clinic only to be told they didn’t do any COVID testing and to try another place. The third clinic said, “Yes, we do that test but we don’t have any appointments available until Wednesday and the results take from 24 to 72 hours.”

Since my flight was at 6 a.m. Thursday, the results wouldn’t be ready in time. I was getting desperate, ah hah, I knew there are three drug stores close to the lodge all of which have pharmacies, let’s call them No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3.

I entered No. 1 and told the pharmacy clerk I needed a COVID test. She reached under the counter and I stopped her, “I don’t need it until Tuesday.” Monday I figured I had better schedule an appointment. I stood at the same counter in No. 1 and was told, “We don’t do those here but No. 2 does.” So it was off to No. 2 where I was told, “We don’t do those here but No. 3 does.”

By now I was becoming rather frustrated. At No. 3 I was informed, “Yes, we do them but it could take 72 hours to get the results and you have to get an appointment online. I went back to the lodge and signed on. The only pharmacy that did the test, the one I had just left, had no appointments available for a week. My heart sank.

As a final Hail Mary, I went to the Delta website and to my astonishment found I didn’t need the lab test, the simple 15-minute test would do. I could have gotten that easily at several of the clinics. Back to store No. 3. “We don’t have those tests. Go to No. 1.” Off to No. 1 only to be told they were out of testing material, try No. 2. By that time I was seething. No. 2, my last hope, was also out of the tests. At this point I was literally thrashing around. Thursday, flight day, approacheth.

I went to three more pharmacies, no tests. At long last I think I finally found one. We shall see. It all began with misinformation about the “travel test.” I coulda/shoulda looked at the Delta site but the first girl was so emphatic it never occurred to me.

Counting re-visits I have now been to 12 locations and been given wrong information at nine. I thought I was the only incompetent one. Turns out incompetence is rife. With COVID shots ubiquitous at every door, you’d think testing would also be easy to find. You’d be wrong.


Norm Douglass made it to Canada, where he frightened some fish on distant shores before returning, joyously, to the Douglass compound.


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