why back in the old days.

Listen, skip the mega-mall hospitals. I don't care if they have the Best Care in the World. I didn't go up to Boston as a patient, I was a visitor, and I still dislike those places. Three days and I could see it was based on the "hello I'm nurse [fill in the blank] and I'll be your server for this shift."

And never mind the corporate mentality, what is it with those hospitals all cropping up in one area? Mike's theory is that it's the phenomenon of multiple car dealerships that insist on crowding along one highway.

Anyway, the medical world builds those huge medical structures (designed to give one confidence in the marvels of mankind's advances) all in the same area. Is it zoning? Is it so you can do some comparison shopping (Honda? Subaru? Oncology? Coronary?). That would make some sense, but it seems more like competing gas stations.

Sure there's some specialization--a diabetes place and a children's hospital--but most of the huge complexes over in Boston have the same sorts of services, emergency room, maternity etc. and by gum, I never got the point of a herd of gas stations hunkering within sight of one another. Gas is 2.90 at the station on that corner, 2.90 across the street.

If the commodity's identical why shove all the hospitals in the same 6 block radius? So the biohazardous people don't waste a lot of gas driving around picking up the icky stuff?

And it seems random where you get dumped. Last time my pal broke her hip, she was in a totally different building, same hospital. And my other sick friend (I was having a two-for-one special on this trip) is sent somewhere different for the same sort of treatment for no particular reason she can figure out.

When my parents got sick they ended up in the same wing over and over and I can still remember some of those nurses' names.

But screw hospitals. I know what I want when I start to crap out: Amtrak. They may be inefficient and prone to problems....hell, they ARE inefficient and prone to problems....but we're all on that train together and those people who work there act like it, too. They seem able to think and act without consulting a PDA to instruct them how they are to behave so the lawyers won't bite their asses at the end of the trip.

Last night in New London, the train's engine died. We sat in the dark and we sat. Within ten minutes, people were knocking on the outside door--the damn train was long and it was blocking the intersection (blink blink blink ding ding ding ding ding went the railroad crossing warning bells and lights for ohhhhhhhh and hour or so) The people who knocked on the door didn't mind parking on the one side, the road doesn't go anywhere, really, but our train was in the way of the waterfront and they want to go enjoy the view. So the conductor opens both doors and keeps watch, chatting, as pedestrians clamber up and through and out the other side of the train's exit.
That has got to break all sorts of corporate rules. Not to mention the fact that he let us passengers out to wander around. "When you hear the replacement engine coming, get back here," he told us. "It'll blow a whistle at that bend."

I mean we're talking very pre-9/11, bless his train-y soul.

But what the fuck--why not? I've taken the train a lot and there have frequently been glitches on those journeys. Like the time the conductors had to chop at the ice on the doors to get them open They gave up on the steps and used a step ladder they hauled around the platform. That was the trip where we stalled out and a bunch of drunken guys piled out of a bar to watch the big train for a while and finally one of them walked over to pee on it. We passengers cheered and clapped. The conductor leaned out the door to tell him his aim was off.

Anyway, what I mean is, the men and women who walk up and down the aisles tend to be more human than otherwise. Assholes, some of them, but give me an asshole over an automatic smile and "and I'll be your server tonight" of someone who doesn't even pretend to think of you as a fellow human on the same road. Not their fault. They don't have the time, the energy, the corporate directive, poor things.

I want to know where the conductor types are allowed work in medicine. Or when it's my time for this nonsense, and there are no Amtrakkers in the systemm, I'll skip the painful tests. I'll have my family put me on a business class car (all the free coffee you want) and I'll ride up and down the East Coast until someone notices I've dropped off the twig. There're some nice spots north of New Haven. They can pry open the door and roll me out when they slow down.


  1. What is it I've heard, about how some pets can always tell when a visitor doesn't like animals, so the pets will deliberately hang out with those visitors.... Poor Kate, and your particular luck with trains!


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