John O'Connor
John O’Connor

Given the high demand for COVID-19 vaccines and a very limited supply, line-jumping seems to be emerging as our new national pastime.

It’s easy to blame the government for this sudden spike in dubious behavior. Truth be told, the system put in place for distributing vaccines is susceptible to fraud, abuse and the dark arts.

But at least government officials (for the most part) are trying to do the right thing. That’s more than can be said for the many line-jumpers who eagerly are trading their moral compass for a shot or two of the good stuff.

And by all accounts, they hardly are outliers. It’s the rare person these days who is not aware of someone who gamed the system to jump the line.

I have a distant relative who happens to be a dentist. In an effort to get his family members inoculated faster, he has listed them all as employees. If you questioned him, he’d indignantly point out how he’s just being a good father, spouse and son. I’m sure that when it comes to line-jumpers with a warped sense of entitlement, he has plenty of company.

Yes, it’s unfair. And perhaps such selfish behavior should make the rest of us angry. But really, is it much of a surprise?

The fact is, we live in a me-first nation, where those with status, means and/or a shameless streak routinely receive preferential treatment. Oftentimes, they don’t even have to ask.

Look at what happens when a notable person is lying in state or lying in honor at the Capitol. The Joe Schmoes get to wait hours for a chance to quickly pass by the casket. As for the VIP pols? Well, the line gets stopped while they waltz right up and stand there as long as they’d like.

But it’s one thing when those with clout get into ballgames, concerts and other venues posthaste. It’s quite another when they get access to vaccines ahead of those who are more deserving. My grade school nuns had a simple word for such behavior. They called it wrong.

We like to pretend that we live in a country where everyone is equal. But as this latest episode in collective behavior makes abundantly clear, some are more equal than others.