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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

My Little Lost Car

Visiting the hospitalAs with any adventure, good or bad, it’s a long and twisted story that actually started out short and sweet. I was travelling to visit a friend in a semi-distant hospital. She had gone through surgery… when something went wrong.

The surgeon made a mistake and knicked another organ.

Rushed by ambulance to a teaching hospital with a surgeon who had performed hundreds of such repairs, she ended up almost three hours from home. Due to everyone else’s schedule, I had to rent a car to make the daytrip there and back.

No problem. So far, so good. It was a sunny day, I had a cherry-red VW Beetle and was on my way. thArmed with a goody bag full of lotions, potions and encouraging words, to which I attached a “Get Well” balloon, I was looking forward to the visit.

By the time I arrived in the city, I realized only too late that my directions were not quite right. There were no turns possible from this highway. That was a problem. Eventually, I exited and tried to find my way back to the hospital, turning in the direction of the university. Around and around I drove, hoping to find the right building and available parking. At last I located a space on the street and fed the meter, attempting to speedwalk toward the hospital, yet not knowing where my specific building was situated.

file_176_1In the wind of an approaching storm, and while run-walking, the balloon smacked me in the face several times until I snatched it away. Crossing green courtyards and darting from informational map board to map board, it became evident my intended building was clear cross-campus.

At last, I entered, picked up my sticky visitor’s badge and made my way to their room. Spending almost an hour with them was well worth the trek. She had survived and we trusted that she would be released within the week. Her husband was there and all of us rejoiced.

Taking my leave, I asked at the front desk if they might have a map of the city. This would assist me in exiting in a more direct manner than I had arrived, circuitously and flustered.

Or so I thought.

Armed with said map, the desk lady suggested I head in a different direction toward my car. I parkingmetersadmitted that I only knew its general location, so rushed had I been to get to my friend. And now, as I retraced only half of my steps, I became turned-around and disoriented. All of the buildings looked the same as I walked round and round, searching for the bright red Beetle.

Nowhere.

The meter would soon run out, as well.

campusmap1Every landmark looked familiar—the School of Dentistry, the Children’s Clinic, the Psychiatric Department—but had I walked past these, or driven past these? When I left the car, there were no streetsigns in sight. I had passed a grassy lawn of outdoor exercise stations in one courtyard and a children’s garden nearby, I remembered that much.

Now they were nowhere to be seen.

I stopped and checked in with workmen high on ladders, working on beautiful historic properties in05-medical-university- the proximity, inquiring which of the streets might be my one-way street where I had ditched the car.

“Ma’am, they’re pretty much all one-way streets in this part of town–,” they acknowledged. “Tell you what—if you don’t come across it, head back here and we’ll try to help you further.”

I was truly thankful, but I had been back and forth, retracing my steps and venturing onto new streets. It HAD to be here.

mkt-stad-fitnessI stopped an Indian intern, handsome young fellow who perhaps knew of the exercise area? He shook his head in puzzlement, he had never seen such a thing.

The wind continued whipping up. It reminded me of a Middle Eastern sharav or hamsin, where dry heat and sandstorms blow for days on end, clouding the sun with a veil and making some go insane.

Should I call the police to assist me? What could they do?

I see a student-type in headphones. I accost him, asking if he has any idea of nearby streets withheadphones parking spaces where I might search for my car, now that I’ve supposedly exhausted every street within a 50-mile radius, or so it seems. He starts to edge away from me, begging off, unhelpful, probably feeling as though I’m some kooky plant in a reality TV show, but unfortunately, this is my real reality. I feel strangely compelled to grab the front of his shirt and pull him towards myself, letting him know that this is SERIOUS and could he please HELP ME???

Instead, I force a smile and let him go on his own, carefree way. By now, it’s ten minutes past my parking meter expiration and I’m calculating how much this is going to cost me either in tickets or in returning to the rental car company sans car….

thPassing a hospital staff parking lot, my eyes light upon a security guard next to a booth, holding a clipboard. I feel hopeful. The Lord is with me. I approach him, almost ready to break down in tears.

I’m hot and sweaty, windblown, and perplexed. He steers me toward two possible streets. No, he does not know of the exercise yard. He suggests I look in the direction of the Department of Psychiatry. I tell him he may be on to something at this point.

I walk two more blocks, turning a corner and there it is: the Little Red VW Wonder. It’s as though Punch+buggyshe had been hiding the whole time, wanting to scare me half to death. Thankfully, no ticket under the wipers, even though it was currently close to 20 minutes after the meter was due to expire.

Cruising crosstown with my handy-dandy map, I experience no troubles at all, except for traffic jams. I’m in no mood, having been on the road since 5:00 am. Passing coffee shop after coffee shop, I need a java jolt, but there’s parking does not exist in my altered world. I get back on the highway and head for home, happy I could be there for a friend.

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