LOST IN THE LABYRINTH
29 August 2002
My friend diane [sic -- I have 3 friends with that name, two with
capital "D's" and one with a small d"...this one lives in England] tells me
that if you want to be sure not to get lost in a maze, all you do is make sure one hand
never leaves the wall of the maze (or the trees or whatever the maze is constructed of).
If you just keep walking, and trailing that one hand along the side, you'll never get
lost. I really should have tried that today.
Some days it just doesn't pay to get up. Cindy and I did our spin
around the city at 5 a.m., only in the dark this time because the batteries on my
headlight died. I really don't do well in the dark at all, but most of the ride has enough
light from street lamps that I didn't kill myself.
We got home in time for me to get to the club, but I decided not to,
since it was already getting warm and the club can get pretty hot even at 6 a.m. I think
the gods of exercise have been punishing me ever since.
I had been asked by John, who runs Breaking Barriers, if I would
come to Sacramento tonight to speak before a committee which is threatening to remove
funding for volunteer expenses to give clients rides to clinics, provide food baskets, run
errands, and give emotional support. In its place, they are just going to give them more
food coupons so they can eat, totally ignoring the human connection--and the fact that
some of these clients are incapable, either by disability, circumstances, or geography, of
actually getting to a grocery store.
John (by way of my friend Sam) asked me to be one of the people
speaking for keeping the funding because I was the most eloquent of his volunteers.
[ ** taking a pause here until the chortling dies
I'm not sure how John decided I was eloquent. Perhaps because he's
seen things I've written. He had no idea I'm a blithering idiot when I have to speak in
public, but still, I know the value of the program and so I agreed to come.
Even before I had to face speaking in public, I had to dress
the part. My wardrobe is dwindling at a rapid rate, as I am between the things that are
now much too big for me and the old, old clothes that don't quite fit yet. And then there
are all those things I threw away. I started out with closets jam packed with clothes and
have gradually come down to pretty bare bones.
But I was able to fit into a skirt I hadn't worn in awhile and
picked the perfect blouse (also one I hadn't worn in years) to go with it. Problem was
that it was predicted to be 100 degrees and these are both winter things. Still, I figured
I should at least dress professional and perhaps it would give me the boost I
needed, if not to sound eloquent, at least not to sound like an idiot.
So in my professional attire, off I went to work. Dr. G is on his
way to a long holiday weekend, and breezed in long enough to point out a few things I'd
screwed up and to finish dictating a long tape for me to transcribe over the weekend, and
then he was gone. He left his personal mail for me to stamp and mail since they were out
of stamps at home.
I was in a hurry to leave the office so I could stop off at home and
make final preparations for going to the meeting. I locked the office and dropped the
envelopes in the mail and came home. When I got home, I went to get the tape out of my
purse...and it wasn't there. I was certain I'd dropped it in my purse. I just knew
I had, but I removed everything from the purse and there was no tape.
In the back of my mind I was trying to remember if it had been in
the stack of envelopes I rushed to get into the mailbox, but decided I just must have left
it on the desk. I quickly got ready to go to Sacramento and then stopped by the office to
make sure the tape was still there.
It wasn't. My only guess is that it was in the stack of mail and
that it's now in the mailbox. (Fortunately it's the mailboxes for the offices in the mall,
not the big blue mailbox, and I'm going to leave a note for the mail carrier tomorrow and
keep my fingers crossed.)
But I couldn't think of that. I had to get to the meeting. I planned
to get there early (and brought a book to read in case I was too early). Sam had told me
"go to the hospital, and go around to the back and look for patient services. Take
the elevator down to the ground floor and it's right there."
I got it into my head that I was looking for a separate building.
There are about 12 different buildings in the UCD Medical Center complex, but none of them
said "patient services." I even parked at the "Administrative
Services" building, thinking it must be there, but that building was locked up tight
(no wonder I was able to find parking so easily).
I finally decided it must be the hospital itself--the only building
really big enough to have an elevator.
I found the intersection of "Patient Ln" and "Staff
Ln" and figured this was a good sign.
I parked in a pay parking lot and, as directed, went to the back
door. Locked. There was a sign on the door saying the door locked automatically at 9
and it was only a little after 5:30. A asked a passing staff-looking person how I could
get in and she told me it locked automatically at 6. I pointed out that the notice said 9
and that it wasn't even 6 yet, but she just let me in.
I found the elevator without problem. So far so good. I took the
elevator to the bottom floor and that was when the nightmare began. I stepped out into a
hard hat area--they are doing remodeling of this wing of the hospital. What do I do now?
I went in search of a meeting room.
You know how on Star Trek the crew will walk and walk and walk down
endless corridors, but you really know that it's the same set piece over and over again?
That's what this was like. This is a big hospital and with enough corridors to make
a sizeable maze and every corridor just like the one before it. At every turn, I kept
getting deeper and deeper into the maze (and farther from the door I'd come in!)
What made it even creepier is that there was nobody around. Just me
wandering around the basement of this hospital looking for a meeting room that just didn't
seem to exist. I found a lot of laundries and kitchen facilities, a lot of
exposed pipe, a lot of hard hat areas, but no meeting room.
I finally found a sign with an arrow pointing in the direction of an
auditorium and figured I was finally hot on the trail (I also had to go to the bathroom
very badly). More turns, more corridors and farther still from the door I'd come in.
When I got to the auditorium, it was empty. (But I did find a
bathroom, thank goodness.)
By now it was 6 p.m. and I was no closer to finding the room than I
had been 20 minutes before. I finally decided to just take the elevator upstairs and go
At the elevator, I finally found a real person--someone wheeling a
patient around in a wheelchair. I asked her if she had any idea where there might be a
meeting room. She said "take the corridor to the right, and when you come to the dead
end, turn left."
When I came to the dead end and turned left, I was facing a door
with a big red warning of "no admittance to unauthorized personnel."
More corridors, more dead ends, more barred doors, and I hadn't a
clue where I was. Even the paintings on the walls looked the same (or else I was just
walking around in circles). I just kept walking and walking until I finally came to
an elevator and took that upstairs. That wasn't much better. Upstairs looked the same as
downstairs, but I did--finally--hit something that looked like it might lead to a door.
And it did.
I managed to find my way back to the car and when I got in the car,
I checked the parking ticket and discovered I'd been walking nonstop for 45 minutes.
I told you the gods of exercise were going to get me. I walked
longer looking for that bloody meeting than I would have on the treadmill if I'd gone to
And I still don't have a clue where the meeting was.
I'm particularly disappointed because another of the speakers was my
friend Priscilla, whom I haven't seen in several months and I was really looking forward
to seeing her.