Friday, September 25, 2009

Honorable Mentions: Reflections from a Monday at Grady

"Define in/out."

That's what I asked Richard, the Grady parking security guard, about one of these newly designated parking spaces the first day I saw the sign. MD IN/OUT PARKING--Right next to the "Board of Trustees" parking spaces on the ground level. Nice.

He shrugged his shoulders and then answered, "I guess it's like, 'Oh, let me run in and sign this chart' or 'Whoops, I forgot to get something from my office.'"
"But no firm rule?" I countered eyebrows raised.
"Naaaah, Dr. Manning," he said with a chuckle, "It's on an honor system. You doctors know all about honor, right?"

Call me silly but I am not sure this alleged honor system includes a clause about scoring an excellent ground level parking space in a ten story parking structure. At least Hippocrates didn't mention it anywhere in his oath.

The Monday IN/OUT dilemma

It all started with a doorknob rattle at 4 am. Zachary can't seem to get our bedroom door open, so he just rattles it until one of us leaps to his doorknob defense. My mommy senses kick in and my eyes almost always fling open the second he places the first foot on the floor. Still, I passively-aggressively lie there waiting to see if Harry will get up first. Rattle-rattle-rattle. Pause. Rattle-rattle-rattle. Each pause is punctuated with a baby-baritone "Mom-may. Mom-may. Mom-may." (The kid has the voice of a thirty-five year old man.)

I looked at Harry who took a deep breath snuggled even deeper under his covers. I rolled out of the bed, opened the door, and found my half-alseep two-year-old standing there with his blanket on his head. "Mom-may, I gotta go pee pee," he bellowed way louder than anyone should at 4 in the morning. I whisk him to the potty and then back into his own bed.

Alarm went off at 5:30-ish. That time was intended for me to make it to the gym on certain days, but not this day-- forgot to switch it to a less heinous time. Annoying. I hit snooze 1.5 times. The first hit was real; I snuck in five minutes worth of intended zzzz's. The second hit only counted for half since at that point I was lying there drowsy yet awake, but too scared to push the "sleep" button. This approach is crappy, because all it leads to is this period of waiting for the alarm to go off again. I dozed off for a second, literally, and was jolted awake by the alarm again. Accidentally hit "sleep" this time which turned off the alarm altogether. Arrrrggghh! Too early to get up, but resetting the alarm for later is too much of a production and the thinking involved would wake me all the way up. Before I could think further, fell back asleep.

7:10 a.m. Eyes flung open, house was eerily quiet. Way too light in the room for it to be the time I was supposed to wake up. Crap! I have overslept. Clinic at 8:30 a.m. so barring some miracle, was officially late at that point. Woke up Harry and, in true Manning splendor, we scrambled all over the house to get ourselves and our little guys ready to go. We also had our usual morning bicker over where backpacks were, is this shirt for Isaiah or Zachary because it's too small/too big, what is that all over Zachary's hands/shirt/pants, and why there is no system for knowing where the socks are. Yet despite this, somehow we made it out of the door by a respectable 8:10. In the driveway, I leaned into Harry's driver's side window for a quick kiss, and blew additional ones to the boys who were strapped into their carseats behind him.

Harry: "Love you, babe."
Me: "Love you more."
Isaiah: "Mommy, I love you all the way to Pluto."
Zachary: "I want some soy yogurt."

Jumped into my car, turned on NPR, and was finally on my way to work. Okay, girlfriend. If you hit zero red lights, you are good to go. I hit one red on Ponce de Leon, but the rest of the commute was pretty open. Definitely met qualifications for good traffic light karma. 8:33 a.m. on my dashboard, which is really 8:23 a.m. Wondered for 5 seconds why I bother with the "fast by 10 minutes" clock thing when all along I know the real time. Whatever.

Reached the homestretch--I turned onto Jesse Hill Jr. Drive a.k.a. Grady Street. Woo-hoo! You just might make it, girl! I threw on my blinker and busted a left into the employee parking garage. I already had my badge out and ready--quick "What's up" head nod to the security person, and headed through the access gate. Yes-sirrrr! Manning, you're a punctual rock star!

The NPR guy shakes me into reality with another time stamp.

"This is WABE National Public Radio. Your home for the classics and NPR news. The time is 8:26 a.m."

That's when I saw it. One of those "IN/OUT" spaces was wide open and calling my name. Kimberly! Kimberly! 4 minutes to clinic! I hit the brakes and my blinker. Suddenly, I felt guilty so just sat there for a moment. Thought about Richard-the-security-dude's definition of IN/OUT:

"I guess it's like, 'Oh, let me run in and sign this chart' or 'Whoops, I forgot to get something from my office.'"

Technically, I did have to sign something--the five trillion charts of the five trillion patients I would be seeing with the residents until 5:30 that evening. And hey, I'm sure I could think of something I could use from my office. Then thought about the whole 'honor' business. In a mocking, na-nanny-boo-boo voice I wagged my head and said aloud, "It's on an honor system!"

A horn blew behind me, and nearly gave me a heart attack. When I flung around, this young doctor behind me in a Toyota Prius had his hands up in a "What the hell are you doing" gesture. Pretty sure when I read his lips there was an 'F' bomb in there. Another honk, this one harder. Environmentally clean car, but environmentally foul mouth--go figure. I officially wimped out and drove past the ultra-awesome-but-on-your-honor parking space. In my rearview, I caught a glimpse of Dr. hybrid-car whipping into the spot sans a single stitch of internal conflict. He'd better be running in to sign a chart. Or to get something from an office.

8:40-- scurried into the Green Pod clinic panting after snagging a not-so-great space on the ninth floor--negating all of my traffic light karma, but not my honor.

5:35 p.m.

Running out of the hospital toward the elevator. Now rushing to pick up the kids and wishing I was parked on the ground level. Blue Toyota Prius still "IN" the rockstar parking space, which means the potty-mouthed resident doctor driving it definitely had more than one chart to sign, and more than a forgotten item in his office. IN/OUT my foot. Oh well. He got the space, and saved at least 3.5 minutes on his arrival, BUT you better believe there will be no honor-related honorable mentions for him.

9:10 a.m the following day- Sufferin' succotash! That's despicable!

Do you know the next morning, that Prius was STILL THERE!
(picture me with eyes narrowed, lips curled, hands on hips like "No he di'in't!")
Yes he DID! Dr. Foulmouth broke every part of the quasi-honor code and had parked his green machine in the IN/OUT spot while on OVERNIGHT CALL. For some reason, I thought anybody who would drive a Prius would automatically be a rule-follower. I have since changed my position. (Yes, I know, I'm being a hater.)

Next time you see Hippocrates, do me a favor and ask him what HE thinks about all of this.


  1. hilarious, kim. i always wondered what those signs really meant!!

  2. Kim, only you! This was god to last line....I thoroughly enjoyed it. Don't you feel better that you followed the honor system? lol

    Crystal/ Front Inc


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