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.