On a cold, drizzly afternoon in the middle of flu season, I found myself at Club ER with Live-In Handyman, who had been less than careful with some of his motions and now couldn't move his neck or shoulders.
Club ER turned out to be the most popular spot in town with only a few empty seats remaining. It was so much fun that we stayed for several hours - way longer than we do at most places. To occupy myself, I read from my Kindle and people watched.
Several people caught my attention but one of the most interesting ones was a 30-something male. I was busy making him into a character, possibly a future hero, until he opened his mouth.
I expected intelligence, passion, and a wry sense of humor. What I got was whiny, arrogant, and refusal to accept that any of his problems may have been his own fault. In my head, I scratched him off the hero list. After trying to figure out unsuccessfully what clues I missed, I spent a lot of time on my Kindle.
Several hours later, about midnight, they finally released Live-In Handyman. I left him in the waiting room to get the car. I’d parked in the first space on the second row, straight out from the side of the entrance, no more than 100 feet away and directly under a light. Note: I’m very bad at judging this kind of distance. It may have been much closer, but I’m certain it wasn't farther.
I walked out the door into freezing temps, an icy wind, and total darkness. All the parking lot lights were off. No moon. No stars. No lights anywhere except from the recessed emergency room doors behind me that faced in a different direction from where I was headed.
Coming from the bright fluorescents, my eyes hadn't adjusted to the darkness. I could barely make out rows of cars, but there was nothing distinguishing about any of them. There was no moon. No stars. It was pitch black.
Then I did the classic Too Stupid To Live thing. Yes, I did. I plunged into the darkness. A woman. Alone.
One thought overrode everything else as I walked, and that was to get inside my car before some maniac grabbed me.
Starting with the first step, I wobbled down a long ramp I didn't remember walking up when we arrived. At the end of the ramp, I stepped onto gravel instead of the sidewalk. I took a couple of steps and stopped to think how long this was, thinking it marked the first row of parking so it must be about 15-20 feet long.
For some reason, I looked down. A fire hydrant I hadn't seen in the darkness stood an inch or two from my leg. I freaked a little bit about that. Had I really seen it in the darkness and not realized it? I could've really injured myself. And who would've found me? Even though I was only feet from the ER entrance.
So I felt my way around the hydrant and took a few more steps feeling for the curb. I found the curb and stepped off. I couldn't see the asphalt below, and the curb was higher than I anticipated by an inch or two. I staggered to keep my balance. I have renewed respect for those with little or no vision.
I crossed the traffic lane directly to the car in front of me, knowing it was mine. It was, and it was parked next to another curb-bound gravel area. I tottered around over uneven ground until I stumped the toe of my shoe against the curb. But I’d reached my car.
If anyone had been watching, I’m sure they would've believed I was VERY drunk . . . and I was going to drive. There’s an upside: I could've found out what it’s like being arrested. I think only a crime writer would call that a perk.
I touched the panel on my doorframe, and the lights came on when the door unlocked. Only then did I think I could've pulled out my keys and pressed until I found the unlock button and at least a little bit of the area would’ve been lit.
Then I had a second thought. Why didn't I also pull out the little flashlight I carry for just such emergencies? Or use the flashlight app on the phone in my pocket?
Maybe it was due to not having any food or water for more than ten hours or the stress over an injured spouse. But I was a blonde baby and little girl, and pulling dumb stunts like this from time to time is just how I roll. Life’s an adventure!
In the car, I locked the door, started the engine, turned up the heat, and drove the hundred feet back to the entrance. Live-In Handyman shuffled over to the door holding all his achy parts and got in. Through his chattering teeth, he said, “Why didn't you warm up the car?”
Fortunately, I’m a forgiving woman, and the sweet loving man is still alive.