Monday, May 5, 2008

The Hospital Pt. 3: Dave Takes A Nap

Back in the delivery room they were getting packed for the short trek one flight up to our private room. I took my wife’s clothes and stuffed them in my backpack, and everyone else took what they could. At this point Julie prepared to say goodbye. But before she left she held Stella and gave her a little pep-talk.

“Welcome, baby girl! You were born on a beautiful spring day!”

That we got a private room sounds pretty posh, and you might even imagine it was, until you saw it. It was about the size of a small jail cell, dominated by a Craftmatic adjustable bed, two small chairs, and that was it. There was a slim closet that you could only get to by moving one of the chairs. There was also a TV, but to actually watch it would’ve cost extra so it stayed off for the duration of Randi’s visit.

It was now about 9:00 a.m. I had to go back to the apartment as our cats needed to be fed. Poor little suckers, they have no idea what was coming their way. I admit I was worried about how they would take it. Our older cat, Cromwell, is a proud, ebony feline, with an affectionate, but somewhat reserved, personality. I thought he would probably be fine. Our younger cat, Talisker, is a skittish black and white job, wiry and thin. He’s extremely affectionate but kind of nervous. I could see him making some kind of horrible cat-related disaster. But we would see.

Before I could worry about that I went to see about getting my parking validated. I walked down to the main admissions desk and they told me to ask security. Why would security validate parking, I wondered.

It turned out they didn’t.

There was no validated parking, at all. For anyone. Including newly minted parents.

Irritated, I walked through the automatic hospital doors to get to the car. Outside Park Slope bustled as people got ready yet another Monday. It was indeed, as Julie had said, a beautiful spring day, although a little crisp. But the sky was clear, and the sun shined. Mostly I was amazed that the last time I had walked into this hospital I was just another married man. Now I was a father. I expected almost that people could see a radiant, Dad-ish glow emanating from me, but if they could they didn’t make a big deal out of it. I also felt a little hung over, but from adrenaline, not booze.

Taking a deep breath I walked into the garage; the car was parked a few flights down. I had written the parking spot down in my notebook the night before, so I wouldn’t forget. I had felt pretty smart about this at the time. This is neither here nor there, although it’s perhaps worth noting how easily I am pleased when I do even the smallest amount of planning in advance. The car started and I drove up to leave.

At the window the woman looked at my ticket for a moment. I kind of hoped that she’d still let me off the hook, but it was not to be.

“That’ll be $30.00”

I gagged in disbelief, but there is no arguing with a parking meter attendant. The car had been in the lot 14 hours. Now, if it had been 10-to-12 hours I would’ve only paid $22.50, but such is life. I paid the bill, reluctantly, and drove home.

It was alternate side of the street parking on my block, another New York treat. For those not from New York, alternate side of the street parking is an odd system that’s evolved so they can clean the streets. Between 8:00 and 11:00 a.m. on Mondays you have to move your car, and for that brief window of time it is legal to double park. Then the next day those on the other side do the same thing. Soon a large, if odd-shaped vehicle that resembles a Zamboni slowly crawls up the side of the street, polishing the pavement with rotating brushes. The bottom line is if your car is still on the wrong side when the trash Zamboni drives up you’ll get a $45 ticket. In fact I once got two tickets during the same cleaning session. Those start to smart pretty quick.

I double parked on the Tuesday side and walked upstairs to the apartment. As usual Cromwell met me at the door. I looked around the apartment. Soon we would be coming back not only with a baby, but a mother-in-law, too. That’ll make six beings living in this one bedroom apartment. Good thing I liked everyone.

I fed the cats after giving them a brief rundown of what was to come; although I think the pep talk was more for my own benefit than for theirs.

After that I took a brief shower, and a nap. The plan was that I would catch up on some sleep and then drive back to the hospital in the early afternoon, while Judy took care of Randi.

I awoke at 10:45 a.m., with great difficulty, to move the car back to the Monday side. Grabbing the car keys, and throwing on a pair of slippers I went outside and realized I had locked myself out about two seconds after I heard the door close. That’s how tired I was. I had no phone, either. If Randi needed me, she couldn’t reach me, and I didn’t even have real shoes on.

My landlord had better be home.

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