Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Car Ride to the Doctor

The day was bright.  There was something clean and crisp in the air.  Not spring.  February.

On any kind of day, it takes an army to get an old person who can’t walk or breathe normally to the corner of Broome and Columbia where the car service waits.

The dispatcher only gives you three minutes to get to the corner. And when you get there the driver insists you were told one minute. Still, on this day the driver waited; sunny, clear days that are not too cold are slow. All the old people who can walk without assistance take the Avenue A bus then.

I greeted this guy with the smile I greet everyone and anyone I have to enlist to help me take care of Florence.  It says: isn't she cute this little old lady practically toppling over and dying in my arms and I'm only 3 inches taller than her but clearly I'm her daughter just look at the cheekbones and we even still dress alike parka, beret, sneakers look how much I'm caring for my old mother aren't we a sympathetic sight?

And like the car service guys before him, this one smiled back and lightened up about it taking us more than three minutes to get to the corner.  That gave me hope he would be good natured about waiting at the Curb of Insanity at Beth Israel's outpatient facility while I dodged a billion other car services and Access-A-Ride vans to run in and find a wheelchair to bring out to the car.

The car zipped onto Delancey. I had about fifteen minutes of not-panicking before we got to the Curb of Insanity.  At the red light, Florence read aloud all the signs in the window of the last remaining Spanish-Chinese restaurant in the city. "Apolo. Restaurant. Lunch Specials. $8.95. That's expensive."

We watched the stores fly by.  Turning up First Avenue, the street looked like an empty Sunday, a wide boulevard of another city maybe in Europe - stately and gracious, the buildings suddenly with character, not tarted-up tenements with $2000 a month rent for a studio.

“The day is beautiful” Florence murmured.

“Yeah,” I said. “Look at those trees.”

"I’m not interested in nature!" she snapped.