Thursday, September 15, 2011

A-mazing: Finding friend turns into journey

I spent the early afternoon today visiting Anita, a friend and former colleague from my days at that place with the printing press. She’s a patient at Emory University Hospital, a large and sprawling medical facility here in the Land of Cotton.

The university campus was teeming with students and the hospital area was filled with doctors and nurses; patients, their families and friends. Traffic was heavy and I only had a slight idea where I was headed. I spotted a sign pointing to a parking area, made a swift left turn, then dipped into the bowels of a mega-parking deck.

I passed through a floor or two reserved for health care professionals, then ignored a sign that said there were absolutely no available parking spaces for, um, regular people. Somewhere deep below the surface, dank and dark, I circled about hundreds of cars in search of an empty spot. When I spotted it, I said a little prayer, parked and then realized I had no idea where I was or how to make my way back to the street.

Off in the distance I spotted an exit sign, then spotted yet another sign pointing in the opposite direction. Fortunately before trekking in either direction, I saw another “regular” person popping into a nearby concrete bunker that turned out to be an elevator. When I reached the lobby, I walked over to the information desk and told the clerk my friend’s room number. She smiled and handed me a printed note. I offer its contents here with no editorial comment other than, WTF!

 Press “T” on elevator
 Make 2 Lefts off the elevator
 At the end of hall, turn Right towards EUH
 Dead end at Emergency in EUH
 Receive further info from Guest Services on the L

Up to this point I hadn’t realized that I was in search of buried treasure or, perhaps, on a holy quest. I managed to find my way up a few elevators, then along the halls and corridors before, yet again, I found myself chatting with another “Guest Services” worker. She offered up another half-dozen directions and, voila, only 30 minutes after parking I walked into my friend’s room.

Anita and I go back together lots of years. She’s battling cancer; filled with courage, hope and humor. Inspiring. I was feeling a little sad as we said our goodbyes, but energized by her good cheer and willingness to continue the good fight.

A few moments later, headed back to my car, I realized yet again I had no idea at all where I was. It would take another half hour, roaming around endless halls and corridors, then strolling about the campus before I managed to spot the mega-parking complex where my journey had begun. Exit signs were still pointing in two directions and I had to backtrack more than once after driving into an area that came to an abrupt dead end.

As I finally made it to the main thoroughfare on the campus, I couldn’t help but wonder if Rube Goldberg had worked as an architectural consultant when Emory planned out its hospital complex. The place is filled with more twists and turns then a Daniel Silva novel.

When next I visit, I’ll make sure to drop bread crumbs along the path. My only fear is that other visitors, lost for days in the dark and dank parking area for “regular” folks, will gobble up my trail markers.

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