(continued from here)
As I suspected, the hard part was just getting to the clinic from the parking garage.
The elevators, they’re easy to find, they are centrally located in a red-walled glass box in the center of the garage. But the stairs? Good fucking luck.
The parking lot was fuller than I thought it might be, but I was pleased that everybody I saw was wearing a mask.
After I’d parked the car, I searched for a stairwell in what amounted to wandering around in a dark concrete maze. I saw a couple of gentlemen in scrubs (and masks!) conversing near the entrance to the elevator lobby, so I approached, and from a socially safe distance asked,
“Do either of you gentleman know where I can find the stairs up to the Frist Clinic.”
“The stairs are locked,” the gentleman in the navy blue scrubs muffled to me through his mask.
I took this news rather incredulously. “The stairs are locked?”
“Yeah,” Mr. Scrubs repeated, “on account the virus. The elevator is the only way up…”
Let me see if I’ve got this straight: Because there is an infectious virus a-loose in the land, the only way to get to the doctor is by getting into a small enclosed chamber with a bunch of strangers?
One of the more vocal members of the Committee Inside My Head said something like “if that’s true, that’s the dumbest fucking thing you’re going to hear all day.” I’m not sure, but those words may have gotten through before the committee member that holds my tongue could stop them.
It wasn’t easy, given the labyrinthine nature of this particular parking garage, but I managed to find the vehicular entrance/exit, thinking I’d just go out on the street and find the entrance to the building that way. But the way these buildings are arranged around Centennial, I couldn’t even find the entrance to the building I was trying to get in to.
I went back into the garage, and after a little bit more dialog with Mr. Scrubs, resisted the Covid Wheel of Anxiety -induced urge to just get back in my car and go home. I resigned myself to getting on an elevator in order to proceed with my mission: to risk my life in order to get a clean bill of health. #IronyAbounds
Not so fast…
I wanted to wait for an empty elevator. Two people with masks got into the first car that opened, and I figured “what the hell…” and got in with them. But before the doors could shut… another woman got in. She was not wearing a mask. I got out.
The next car that opened, there was just one other guy – with a mask – waiting to get on, so I took my chances with him.
I put on a rubber glove and pressed the “4” button. #ParanoidMuch?
The door closed before anybody else could get in. In the few seconds available, to us, we exchanged our mutual surprise that there was no stairwell access to the building. He got off in the lobby and again, mercifully, nobody else got on. 30 seconds later I had finally reached my desired destination.
I’m sorry I didn’t think to grab a photo of the lobby of the Frist Clinic. It’s usually a pretty bustling place, but this time it was nearly empty. Most of the seating had been removed, and what remained was all socially-distanced apart. There were signs saying everybody had to wear a mask, and a Miranda-like warming that “if you don’t have a mask, one will be provided for you…”
I waited a safe distance from the counter for my turn to check in. The receptionist asked me for my Insurance card, and I made a mental note to thank Apple for keeping me employed and insured while so many millions of people are losing not only their jobs but also their health insurance – at a time when they are really going to need it. Note to America: this is fucking stupid.
After a short wait the nurse invited me in.
“How are you?” she asked dutifully.
“Right this moment… I’m pretty agitated!” I replied, launching into a concise summary of the Ordeal of My Arrival and repeating the profane conclusion that the Committee Inside My Head had arrived at earlier.
Then she sat me down, took my blood pressure – and rattled off a number that didn’t sound right.
“Is that good?” I asked, sensing some alarm.
“No.” was all she said.
She left me in the room to wait for the doctor while I wondered if being forced to ride an elevator could actually elevate one’s blood pressure.
Dr. Louis Johnson at the Frist Clinic, who has been my Primary Care Provider for the entire time I’ve lived in Nashville. Another, like my barber and my housekeeper, who have been around longer than my (now ex-) wife.
Eventually the doctor arrived and I told him the story of the limited choice of conveyance. He was surprised that somebody had told me the stairs were inaccessible. We talked a little about the Strange Times we’re living in, and the exam commenced.
I’ll spare you the sordid details of the ensuing poking and prodding. The highlight for me may have been the discussion around my weight. He didn’t say anything, but I did express my concern that I have add a few lbs from “sitting on my ass for the past two months.”
“Yes,” he said, “that’s been a concern for a lot of people.”
“Yeah, that’s what happens when the grocery store has run out of chicken but you can get all the Oreos you want…”
When the exam was over, the doc took me out into the hallway and showed me an exit to the stairs. “That’ll take you right down to the parking lot.”
Before I left, he took my blood pressure one more time.
“Normal,” was all he said.
So, yeah… riding an elevator in the spring of 2020 is definitely not good for your health.
Of course we won’t really know the full impact of this penetration into the Infection Zone for another 12-14 days so… y’all standby!