There are some things you are just lucky with.
It’s parking for me.
Carol doesn’t have it. She spotted my gift long before we were married, and maybe that had something to do with her initial attraction. After all, finding a parking space in New York City is a challenge and, if you’re not careful, can land you further away from your destination than where you started out. Once you find a parking place in the city, you keep it and walk from there.
Hence, Carol would question my judgment when I’d jump in the car to go five or six blocks. Invariably I’d find another spot – not that it was always legal – yards away from where we wanted to be.
Seems Clay Pell may be similarly gifted, although from the looks of the latest developments, he has difficulty remembering that he has a car at all.
In my case, there is little difficulty in finding the car because I land right in front of where I want to be. It’s like I have a reserved space.
Sometimes Carol figured I’d run out of parking luck.
“Shall I just run in and see if they have a place?” she would say as we pulled in front of the mid-town tavern we once frequented. Carol lived on 86th Street, so it would have been a hike without driving and taking the bus or subway, which lacked the intimacy of the car.
“Just give me a second. There’ll be a spot,” I’d assure her.
And that’s what would happen. The brake lights of one of the string of parked cars would flash on. I’d pull up, often with one or two other drivers jockeying to get to the same space and pull in as neatly as if it had been arranged.
By comparison, parking in Rhode Island is a snap.
So I really didn’t think too much about it when I pulled around the back of Kent Hospital Thursday afternoon. I’ve always had luck there and sure enough there was a spot, albeit with a reserved sign for a hospital vehicle. It didn’t have the name of a doctor or administrator, so I felt confident pulling in.
I wanted to check in on our police reporter and features editor Joe Kernan.
When he reported for work Monday, Joe wasn’t feeling well and planned on visiting his doctor. A half-hour later, he called from his apartment where he’d returned to get his checkbook. He’d fallen and was unable to get up. He had broken his ankle.
Joe was in a fifth-floor room.
I should have picked up that this wasn’t my lucky day when I took the elevator. It only went to the fourth floor, where I got out and waited for a second elevator. I had it to myself and pressed the button for the fifth floor. It went back down to the first floor. On the second ascent I got to the fifth floor, but Joe wasn’t in his room. He was undergoing tests. I talked with several nurses and headed back to the car. The whole trip was no more than 15 minutes.
But it would be sometime longer before I was back on the road.
A white Women and Infants Hospital van was blocking my exit.
I waited, but no one showed up. Finally, I called Melissa Costello in hospital communications. She’d know what to do.
“Can you get me a bed?” I inquired. I explained that it looked like I would be at Kent for some time. She laughed and promised to call security.
After another 20 minutes, I went back into the hospital, looking for security. I found someone from the pharmacy division, who was extremely helpful. He started making inquiries. No one knew the driver of the van or what he might be doing there.
Security showed up. The hunt was on.
Then, as the posse congregated in the corridor, a man strode through our midst. It was the van driver. I was going to be set free.
That evening I got a call from Melissa.
“How did you make out?” she inquired.
“Have you got a room for me?”
That might be easier than finding parking.