Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting my nice. She had given birth to a beautiful baby boy. I’m in North Texas and it takes about 4 hours to drive down to the Houston area. Luckily, I have a map app on my phone. I put in the destination and a voice leads me to my destination. So, as I ventured out, I turned on the device and then it led me straight to the hospital. Or more aptly described as “Herman Memorial Hospital complex.
As the voice on my phone directed me to the many turns of the downtown Houston area and the Herman Memorial Hospital complex, I was reminded on how busy downtown area can be. First off, there is the crazy drivers in a downtown area. Small cars zooming in and out of lanes to gain a single position in the line before the traffic light. As I finally made it to the parking area and negotiated a machine that allowed me to get into the parking lot, I was amazed on how many parking garages were in the area. As I got to the garage area, I found myself staring at two different large public parking garages. Not knowing which one was close to the hospital that I needed to ago to, I just checked into the closest one and hoped for the best.
As I got out of my truck and I began to walk to where I thought was the hospital, I search for a door to go to enter the hospital. And I went up to one of a automatic sliding door, I noticed another person standing there waiting for the door to open. After several tries it was apparent that the door was broken and so I and the other person looked for a way to get into the hospital. After an amount of time, it was obvious that we were on the wrong side of the building to try to gain entrance. Luckily, a hospital worker who was outside on a smoke break noticed that both of us looked lost. And so, the gentleman walked us to a side door and used his key that got us into the hospital.
Thinking that I was in the right building I searched around and found a group of elevators I punched in the number that I thought my nice was on. After it reached the floor and the doors open, I began to walk around before the hospital only to notice that there were no nurses or technicians in the hallways and when I walked by a few rooms with open doors the people inside the room seemed very old. That is when I realize that I was not on the right floor. I finally found a maintenance worker who led me to a nurse that I’d gave my nieces name and I was quickly informed that I was in the wrong building. The nurse began to give me directions on how to get out of that building into the next building. The directions involved a lot of rights and lefts that would lead to the escalators and elevators that would lead to the correct building.
Feeling good after getting the directions I started upon my adventure to find the right room. After some 15 minutes of many left and rights turns. I did find a common area that had escalated and elevators. But during that walk I spoke to two other people who appeared to be workers of the hospital, I ask for directions to the next building. To my amazement, each person gave me a different set of directions. Finally, I located my niece’s room and was introduced to my new great nephew. There’s something about a newborn baby that helps hope for the future. During the next several hours I was joined by other family members with the new mom and new baby.
After those few hours, I announced to the group that I was headed back home, and my first adventure would be to find my truck. My nephew, who was part of the group of visitors, gave me directions on how to find the right parking garage and how to get out of the building. Confident again that I would go directly to my truck without any problems, I left the room and headed down the hallway. I think I was no more than 50 feet from the room when I realize I may have taken a wrong turn down the wrong hallway. Now, I don’t want you think that I did not try to read the directions that were on the hallway walls. Most had the name of the unit and an arrow next to it. This included one directional sign that stated garage of this way. That is when I realized again that there was more than one garage and I need to know the name or title of the garage I was parked at. So again, I stopped people in the hallway that looked like they worked at the hospital and ask for directions to the garage. Each person gave me different directions, I finally found a security officer. He asked me if I had my receipt from the parking structure where I first parked my truck. Luckily for me, I had the receipt. He then gave me the name of the garage I should’ve been looking for and pointed out that I was on the wrong end of the building and would have to take a long walk again down several hallways with a series of right and left turns. This time as I look at the directional signs and their arrows, I knew which one to look for, garage #4.
Now, with a little more speed in my step, I follow the signs and got to garage number four. That’s when I found out that you had to pay your bill on floor number two. Of course, I was on floor number one. So, I found a bank of elevators that got me to floor number two and a automated system to paid my bill for parking, which was $10.00 for 2 hours. As I finished paying the fee, I was approached by a woman carrying a large bag in wearing a backpack. She quickly related that she had just had brain surgery and then she asked me if I could help her by giving her $10.00. To begin the overwhelming odor of alcohol that came from her mouth as she spoke was enough to make me turn my head away from her face. She did not take long for me to realize this was a street beggar who was working the parking lot floors of the hospital.
I don’t know what it is about me, but it is seems like I draw the homeless and the mentally ill. It recently happened at a casino, several times, and now in a parking garage at a hospital. I must look like the kind of person that likes to give money away or just an old man that can be talked into anything. I listened to the woman tell me three times how she was a had just had brain surgery and needed money., I calmly said no and turn to walk to my truck. I will be honest; I looked back over my shoulder several times just to make sure that I did this offend the homeless person enough that she might want to rob me.
This brings me to the thought of the day. Why can’t there be an app, sponsored by the hospital, that could work like the map app. I could use the app to give my destination, the patient’s last name (which could be place on an approved list made out by the patient) and the GPS would automatically show my location and the location of the patient I’m there to see. Beyond that it could direct me to the elevator or the escalator and the public bathrooms. They could even be sophisticated enough to share your parking location and a list of charges per hour. I realize that most hospitals use stationary signs with little arrows pointing to a direction to help people get around a hospital. But at this hospital those different areas had different descriptive names on them, and the arrow only pointed in the direction of the hallway. With all the devices that help us navigate the roadways are even find our phone if we lose it, why can’t they help to get around in a large complex like Herman Memorial Hospital
Having negotiated the hospital and the garage, I bravely headed back out into the freeway system in Houston. Even though I came from Los Angeles I am still somewhat intimidated by the five or six Lanes on one direction of the freeway with multiple fly overs an exit ramp. Some exit ramps are on the left and some exit ramps are on the right. Of course, there are the mad hatter’s that are driving the small vehicles and some of them driving large vehicles cutting from lane to lane. Many times, as soon as they cut into your lane, they hit the brakes because they’re too close to the car in front of them. Of course, that means I must get on my brakes which then causes me to worry about the person behind me. After some 20 years of driving the L.A. freeways I would that it was no big deal to be on the big city freeway, it is not like that anymore. Luckily for me, I went downtown on a Saturday. Even then there were certain areas that were stop and go traffic. After about an hour driving northbound, the lanes went from 5 to 4 to 3 to 2. I no longer felt like I was in some sort of a demolition race. I was able to relax and use the cruise control to get home. Maybe it’s just getting old or maybe it’s just been out of relax, I do not want to drive back into the major city on a multi lane freeway. I know that I will have to in the future to be able to see my family and I will feel somewhat guilty about not making a lot of trips, but I sure as hell do not want to drive on those freeways again. Pops