You: “It’s a no for me, dog.”

That’s what you said when I asked your thoughts on getting a #COVIDVaccine. We both laughed—but the way you paused, then returned to your industrious task of clearing crumbs from the table made me know you weren’t joking.

I lifted my laptop on cue as your hand swept under it quickly and collected the crusty bread remnants into your other cupped hand.

Me: “You sound serious. Are you?”
You: *shrug* “Serious enough.”

I nodded slowly and tightened the drawstring on my hoodie.
It was a cold day for outdoor dining—especially of the solo nerdy type. But seeing newly arranged and spaced tables thrust along the sides of some my favorite ATL eateries made me happy and willing to brave the chill for a slice of normalcy.

I was glad to see you.
You: “It’s mad cold out here.”
Me: “Y’all the ones who set up the tables out here!”


You: “Truth.”
Me: “Plus you’ve got this heater lamp thingie. So I’m good.”
You: *pouring water* “If you like it, I love it, sis. It’s good to see you back here.”

Me: “So. . . I mean since you don’t have ten other customers at the moment. . . can I ask you why it’s a no for you?”
You: “What? You talking ‘bout that vaccine still?”
Me: *leaning chin into my hand* “Yeah.”

You paused for a moment and placed the pitcher on the table.
You: “It seem like everybody trying too hard. And it’s too much, man.”
Me: *squinting* “Say what now?”

You folded your arms and sifted your mind for the right words.

You: “Like. . . if I’m honest? I feel like I’m in the middle of a tug-o-war.”

I kept listening.
You: “Like, one side is trying hard as hell to get Black folks to get this vaccine, right? But then—if you Black—you also got the other side going just as hard to get you NOT to take it.”

I narrowed my eyes and leaned back in the rickety metal chair.

You: “And what’s crazy is that both sides feel hella strong about they position. So I’m just like, damn! Can everybody just chill out so I can think?”

I realized that I’d mostly been insulated from the “other side” of that pendulum.

Even though I’m Black, too.

Me: “Wow.”
You: “Wow what?”
Me: “Like . . . wow, I hadn’t thought of it that way. I think as a doctor I didn’t realize just how much comes from both sides.”
You: *shaking head* “Yeah, man. If I get one more video telling me about how bad this vaccine is, I’mma lose it.”
Me: *listening*
You: “Then I got this doctor lady sitting in my section outside in the cold coming at me, too.”


Me: “But real talk—I didn’t come at you. I just asked.”
You: *smirking under mask* “Yeah right. That ‘ask’ was the set up.”

Me: “Fair.”

You looked around to see if there was more you needed to do. It was mid-afternoon so pretty quiet.

Me: “But like. . . . there’s urgency, you know? To move people to feeling like they want to get vaccinated.”
You: “But IS there? For people like me?”

You: “Y’all go through all this trouble to get folks to say yes but ain’t got no vaccine when they ready.”
Me: *listening*
You: “It’s like walking somebody to the end of the high dive and expecting ‘em to wait on the edge until you done filling the pool with water.”

Me: “That’s real talk.”
You: “Damn right.”


Me: “Okay. So can I ask you 2 questions?”
You: *raising eyebrows*
Me: “So first—what’s the way to approach this then? Like, from the want-you-to-get-vaccinated side?”
You: *pointing back and forth* “Kind of like this.”
You: “Talking without no pressure. And realizing that you ain’t the only one in my ear that believe what they saying is in my best interest.”
Me: *nodding* “Wow. That’s a word.” *pause* “So, my other question—like, how do I counter the other stuff you hearing?”

You paused.
You: “By not acting like it’s beneath you to talk about other views.”
Me: *listening*
You: “On EITHER side, folk need to listen and not act like they words is the gospel, man. Like. . . let me listen and think. That heavy hand approach don’t ain’t it, man.”

On either side.
You: “And for a lot of folks, you can ease up and just chat since we DO got time.”
Me: “To fill the pool with water.”
You: “Exactly.”


Me: “I just thought of something. We also got to have the pool right by you when you do feel ready.”

You laughed. I did not.
You: “As opposed to over the river and through 5 websites? And across town?”

Even though you were chuckling when you said that, it was clear that we were on the same page.


Me: “Well. When I see you, always feel like we can chat about it, okay?”
You: “Bet.”
I closed my laptop and squared up my check. As you handed me the receipt to sign, I thanked you for your candor.

Me: “You gave me a lot to think about.”
You: “Did you add it in my tip?”


You: “Alright then, doc.”
Me: “Alright then, fam.”

And that was it.
Too much noise drowning out the signal—on both sides.
Too much pressure to jump when the pool is still empty.

These were your concerns.

You know? I never thought of myself as a “public health” person. But really? We all are.



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More from @gradydoctor

15 Feb
My favorite love story ♥️

Grady wards, pre-COVID

There was this Grady elder who'd been admitted to my team. His issue was quickly sorted out and the very next morning he was ready for discharge.

Nothing about his problems were complicated. At all.

We didn't see him as a team on rounds that day. Things were so straightforward that I'd agreed to see him on my own. He didn't have many questions when I got to the end of the encounter. And so. I reached for his hand and wished him well.

And that was that.
I realized that I hadn't gotten to know him beyond his medical concerns. So decided to right that wrong.


This gentleman was pretty reserved. He'd already packed up his belongings and had his cell phone in his hand. And didn't seem up for smalltalk.

I tried anyway.
Read 22 tweets
14 Feb

Grady elevator

Her: "Is that my girl Dr. Manning?"
Me: "Heeeey! I haven't seen you in a minute!"

*elbow bump*

Her: "I ain't used to seeing you with scrubs on and not in your heels!"
Me: "Girrrrl. It's crushing my soul to not wear heels!"

Her: "At first I didn't even know that was you! And you grew your hair some."
Me: "And you changed your hair, too. I like it!"
Her: "Girl, this a wig."


Her: *patting head* "The #COVID makeover, chile."
Me: *nodding* "I know that's right."

Me: "Hey--you get the #COVIDVaccine yet?"
Her: "Nah."
Me: *raising eyebrows*
Her: "I decided to wait."

I jutted out my lip under my mask and nodded.

Her: "I'm in my 30's. And nobody older or sick live with me. So I'm waiting."
Me: *squinting* "Waiting for. . . ?"
Read 18 tweets
10 Feb

Next to Grady garage

Him: “Heeeey! I been hoping I’d see you.”
Me: “Heeey!”
Him: “I just wanted you to know that I thought on that talk we had that one day.”
Me: *listening*
Him: “I changed my mind ‘bout the shot.”

I placed my hand on my chest.

Wait. What?
See, he wasn’t just a no. He was a hard no.

A hell no even.

Me: “Wow. That makes me SO happy.”*sigh*
Him: *chuckles*“You ‘bout to cry?”

And that took me over the edge. I shook my head and patted my eyes with the heels of my hands.

Me: “See what you did?”

His voice softened and his eyes grew warm.

Him: “Naaah. See what YOU did.”

Now I was full on weeping. I nodded my head and tried to get it together.

Me: *sniffling* “Thank you, friend.”
Him: “Nah, Ms. Manning. Thank YOU.”

Read 4 tweets
9 Feb

At the curb market by Grady

Them: "Hey, Dr. Manning!"
Me: "Heeeey!"

*air fist bump*

Me: "You doing alright?"
Them: "I'm making it."
Me: "Guess that's all we can do right?"
Them: "Exactly."


Them: "Hey, I'm glad to see you feeling better."

Them: "Look like you was in a bad way this weekend from what I saw on social media."
Me: "Haaaa! Can't even front. . . I was, man."

In a bad way. A perfect descriptor.

In fact, I'd just used that very phrase with my teenaged son just an hour before.

Son: *frantic* "Mom, I can't find my computer charger! Where's yours?!"
Me: *calm* "I took it to work."
Son: *frantic* "What I am supposed to do?"
Me: "Are you testing?"
Son: "No."
Me: "Use your phone. Otherwise you in a bad way until I get home."

Mmm hmm.

But I digress.
Read 20 tweets
2 Feb

In front of Grady

Them: "Scuse me--did I see you on TV talking about the #COVIDVaccine?"
Me: "Hey there. I think so, yes."
Them: "I liked what you said."
Me: "Wow. I appreciate that."

The wind whipped around as we stepped aside for someone to pass.
Them: "There was one thing I was wishing y'all had talked about. But I guess you can't go over everything."
Me: "You mind me asking what?"

They pulled their coat in tighter. I did my best to look like I wasn't in a rush.

Even though I kind of was.

Them: "It's okay."
Me: "Happy to give it a try if you think it might help you."
Them: *thinking* "I kind of feel like to a doctor it might seem stupid. But I know a whole bunch of people who wonder about this."

Their internal deliberation continued as the wind kept punishing us. I waited.
Read 15 tweets
30 Jan


Her: “You probably think I’m stupid.”
Me: “That’s not true, sis. I’ve worked with you too long to think that.”
Her: “Okay. Well I bet you think me saying no to a #CovidVaccine when I work in a hospital is dumb.”

I shook my head.
Me: “I think you’re amazing. And if you’re holding off on getting it, you probably have your reason.”
Her: *sighs*
Me: “Can I ask you what it is?”
Her: “What—my reason?”
Me: “Yeah. I mean, if you cool telling me.”


Her: “Maaan. I just don’t know, Dr. Manning.”
Me: “Okay.”
Her: “Okay?”

I touched her arm.

Me: “Yeah. Okay. I mean. . .We can talk about it if you want. Or not if you don’t.”
Her: “I. . I just. . .” *looks around* “Um, can we chat someplace private?”
Me: “Sure.”

We stepped into a patient room and closed the door.
Read 15 tweets

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