Driven to Drink Coke and Peanuts: Senior Traffic Jam in Medical Building Stairwell

By Lisa Batten Kunkleman

I just finished drinking a little bottle of Coke with peanuts in it, and I am relaxed enough to tell the tale that drove me to it. I don’t drink soda. If Coke can clean a car battery, I feel funny putting it in my stomach, but today, I didn’t care. Here goes:


A doctor in scrubs and mask came to the reception desk where I was checking out of my cardiologist’s office. He said to the woman behind the glass doors, “The elevators aren’t working and there is a jam up of people on the third floor.”


The receptionist smiled and replied absently, “Okay,” as she gave me my next appointment reminder sheet.


I headed to the elevators thinking I’d see people waiting at the doors. Nope. Pushing the button did nothing. They were indeed not working, so I opened the door to the stairs. I could not believe the view on the landing below which would be between floor six, where I was, and floor five. One elderly man with long braids gasped out from behind his mask, “Hold the door.” I did.


Below him were several seventy and eighty-year olds sitting on the steps or propped against the rail trying to catch their breath. I was relieved to be going down, not up, as these people were attempting. What the heck is a cardiology doctor doing on the sixth floor? Seems like a bad idea. Especially when all of us patients and some caregivers are all masked up and expecting six feet distancing. Well, that couldn’t happen in a stairwell, let me tell you. I wove my way through and held my breath in my closest encounters and let it out saying, “Excuse me,” as I aimed my mask away from them.


When I got to open air in a hallway, I was so shaken up by all those poor people wedged on each floor landing trying to catch their breath, that I went right when I should have gone left. I ended up on the incorrect skybridge, crossing the street toward the hospital instead of the parking garage.  I requested guidance from two ladies sitting at the other side of the walkway.


One lady tried to help but bless her heart, she was swimming around in the Kool-Aid and didn’t know what flavor it was. She led me off in one direction only turning around when I told her I didn’t need to go to the hospital. We retraced our steps and travelled beyond our starting point. Once we crossed the correct skybridge, and spotted the “parking garage that way” sign, she said, “I’ve never been on this side before. I didn’t know this was here.”


Despite all of her kind efforts, she could use a little more training in giving directions. Maybe I taught her something that will help the next person.


In the parking garage, my car did not exist. I walked up and down every ramp and floor, searching the maze that is a modern garage. All those levels change as you walk, if you didn’t know. I knew I was on floor four but it moved around. I promise this is true. Try walking up and down those ramps sometimes. I got four thousand steps looking for my precious car. I was thinking of calling my husband to come pick me up and drive me around the garage to find that car that I knew was in there somewhere, but first in exasperation, I said aloud, “Dear Lord, help me find my car.”


Guess what? It was around the next turn. Voila. I was hot and tired but I was not stuck in a stairwell with dozens of masked elders. I hope someone came to their aid. I entreated several workers who radiated authority, to help those poor climbers of Stairwell Everest. That was before I got lost. Hopefully one of them knew what flavor their Kool-Aid was.


That’s how my day drove me to drink. That Coke and peanuts sure did the trick.


The peanuts are inside the Coke. I get a bite of nut with every swig. Yum.

17 thoughts on “Driven to Drink Coke and Peanuts: Senior Traffic Jam in Medical Building Stairwell

  1. Oh boy, what a day you had. At least you’re doing well after your swig of coke and peanuts.

  2. Holy cow……what a day!!! I could not agree more about the modern parking garages these days. The last time I was at one at a huge medical center several months ago, I noted that now the floors on some of them are totally on a large incline on each level. Most of the ones I had infrequently encountered in my youth were only inclined where they went to the next level….and flat where you actually walked and parked. Not anymore!! Now it’s a workout just to park and walk to the building!!!

  3. My favourite episode of Seinfeld is the one where they can’t find their car in the multi-storey car park.😂

  4. 😁Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. The cardiologist must have had a banner day with all those patients needing immediate care! I hadn’t thought of Coke and peanuts since my Louisiana mother-in-law died. It is definitely not a New England beverage!

  6. I loathe parking garages. Unless I come in the EXACT way I left (from my car to my destination) it takes me forever to find my car. I am actually getting better at paying attention because I LOATHE “losing” my car. I am glad you found it without having to call your husband. Although, I would have opted for wine . . . .

    • Ha. Glad to know I’m not alone. I’m gonna leave bread crumbs next time. Or confetti or something.

      • I used to take a picture of the identifying info. I learned I would not remember that I was in Section F / Code Blue / Space 10 – pictures are so much better. And I don’t pay attention to cars around me, because they change! Ha!

        • I will do that from now on.

          • One day I was in a garage and I kept hearing a chirp and it is so loud in the garage I was annoyed with whoever was doing that. Then I was driving out and I saw a car’s lights go on and it chirped. I didn’t see anyone around. Then as I was driving (“How do I get out of here?”) I saw a frustrated person walking around with their arm out in the air holding their fob. I circled around to tell them where their car was. She was so grateful. The echos in those garages can make it sound like it is somewhere it is not. That poor person had been looking (listening) for a while!

  7. I like to start my morning with a cook. Great post.

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