(originally posted 11/24/2012)
It seemed like a pretty harmless transaction. I had always parked in the lot across the street from the hospital when calling on one of my clients, but then a friend of mine told me that he always parks in the hospital lot and then just goes across the sky bridge and gets his ticket validated even though he wasn’t actually visiting any of the patients there. Saves him $15.50 every visit downtown.
Seemed simple enough except when I started to walk down the hallway towards the ticket stamper, I saw it was sitting on a desk occupied by a security guard. Now immediately I’m sure you’ve leapt to the conclusion that this security guard was a man in a bad blue security shirt with a bad emblem on the sleeve that vaguely resembled a badge of some sort and black pants that were two sizes too small and seemed to be made of rayon or nylon or some other material that ended with -on but you are wrong. It was a woman. Everything else, you were spot on.
Anyway, I panicked and walked right past her and into the bowels of the hospital. After I walked around for a little bit I started to weigh my options. If I was unable to extricate myself from this tricky predicament my vehicle might be forever trapped on the blue level of St. Whatever’s Hospital parking garage.
Obviously the easiest thing to do would be to steal a white jacket and pretend to be a doctor. After being unable to acquire the necessary garb I was forced to settle with some surgical scrubs I found in a linen closet. I threw them over my street clothes and started for the desk, ticket in hand and seemingly eager to be slid through the machine.
But what is she wasn’t buying the surgeon routine? Could I be arrested for impersonating a doctor? As I got closer I could feel the sweat building on my brow and before I was within ten feet of the desk I pivoted on my back foot and hightailed it back down the hall. She’d never buy that I was a doctor.
The next obvious solution was to borrow a gown and try to pretend I was a patient leaving the hospital. Although I found it a bit breezy in back the transformation was easy enough and in no time I was shuffling down the hallway holding the plastic bag containing my clothes and only moments from freeing my car from its unwanted detention. This time I was literally two feet from the punching contraption when it occurred to me that usually guards won’t allow a patient to leave and drive themselves home. Quickly I wondered if I could invent some bleeding-heart story that could explain my departure but was too worried that the guard would try to escort me back to my room only to find I didn’t have one, so with a quick spin that sent a burst of cold air up my not-adequately-covered backside I once again headed back the way I had come.
Pretty much oblivious to the suffering all around me.
Who did I need to be to get out of this mess? I couldn’t be myself, could I? Not to this security professional. She could be a highly trained woman with a military background and a short fuse who could sniff out the type of person who would try to cheat the system and attempt to park at the hospital when in fact their business had not been in the hospital at all. The kind of woman who waits all day for the opportunity to wrestle such a person to the ground in a very public and humiliating manner and put her knee on the back of their head until the proper authorities are summoned.
I spent close to an hour trying to find a security uniform or at least a walkie talkie so I could ‘relieve’ her and then make my escape. No dice.
I studied her in greater detail. Usually I see faces in clouds but this was the first time I ever actually saw clouds in a face.
Should I try honesty and throw myself on her mercy or perhaps pull a fire alarm and in the ensuing confusion stamp my ticket and bolt out of there? Was I agile enough to complete the transaction without her even knowing as I wandered by or would it be easier to sneak up behind her and render her unconscious when nobody else was looking?
The idea of being myself became more difficult as I realized I wasn’t sure who I was any more.
This seems to happen every time I look to a stranger for validation.
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