About Me

My photo
What I am: Complicated. A mom. A wife. A thinker. A seeker. A 'musician'. One of the volunteer executive directors of a niche music festival. An administrative business owner who set up shop in a senior's condo. Oh the stories!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

On Parking Lots and Ticket Slots

So it seems we have turned the usual corner here in Saskatchewan.  Our futile complaints about the early winter have given way to grudging acceptance and after much reluctance we’ve all adjusted to the terrible winter driving conditions.  I’m quite proud of the fact that I screeched in before the Snow Deadline and had winter tires put on.  Now the sensible Mom-car is even more sensible in its new winter kicks.  I can confidently resume my job as a reluctant Taxi Driver whose territory is "All over Hell's Half Acre". 

Speaking of driving (endlessly), it would seem that everywhere I need to go lately is outfitted with a parking lot.  Hospitals, malls, airports, you name it, they all have that one thing in common: The dreaded automated ticket machine at the exit. 
The concept is simple.  Pay for your ticket at the machine inside before you leave (after said machine spits it out the first 8 times. “Stripe down, you idiot!”), and out you go.  Yeah right…Who made these machines? The people laughing their heads off, that’s who.  It is clear once you pull up to these little beasts that it is not simply a case of opening your window and placing the ticket in the little slot.  N-O.  I’ve found that it always shakes down the same way:

First, with your foot on the brake, you try to reach over and insert the ticket but the evil machine is too far away. So then you must sigh heavily and remove your seatbelt.  Of course, you still can’t reach it.  You must then swear loudly, put your car in park and try it again.  Fail.  You now must kneel with one knee on the window ledge placing your opposite foot on the chest of your passenger in order to gain enough leverage to manoeuver the ticket into the slot.  Dazed and confused by the whole process, you then need to gather the presence of mind to get back into driving position so you can gun it to make it under the very temporarily raised arm. 
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of trying to leave the Saskatoon Airport parking lot; good luck to you, my friend. The machine is about half a city block back from the arm.  I suggest blasting the soundtrack to Top Gun on your car stereo and flooring it.

I know what you’re saying, ‘Why don’t you just go to the kiosk?’  Some people have the luxury of driving up to the kiosk and dealing with an actual human being, not the parking machine from hell.  These people are special, they have something called Cash.  Cash is coin and paper currency; something I have not seen since my children began attending elementary school.  All the Cash in the house from that moment on went to things called Book Orders and Hot Lunch Days and Teacher’s Gifts. 

Mrs. Neat-as-a-Pin has Cash and always seems to be in front of me in the lineup to leave the parking lot.  She shares a laugh with the kiosk attendant as he raises the arm for her.  She is in no hurry.  She has no melting ice cream or sullen teenagers in her back seat. No, she refastens her seatbelt, zips her wallet closed, has a sip of Evian and re-applies her lipstick.  Only then does she put the car in gear and drive under the arm.  No fear has she of the arm coming down on the roof of her Buick.  No sir.  She has All the Time in the World to exit.

Alas, I should be grateful that I still have the kids with me in the car.  Soon, I will give them the rest of my Cash, they will buy their own cars, and I will have All the Time in the World too.  I don’t look forward to that…Drive safe everyone!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Post-Halloween SuperHeroes

Another Halloween has come and gone.  I am at a stage in my life where my kids execute their own costumes and make their own plans for collecting pillowcases full of dental bills.  This year, I had time to sit back and enjoy the costumes both at my front door and on Facebook.  Other than the crazy current fascination with zombies, the classics, like the Super Heroes, are always out there.

I was at the hospital with my Mom and we were enjoying some of the young people who came in all dressed up to show their family members.  This brought so much enjoyment to the whole ward!  At a certain point, I had a very unique perspective.  When I looked down one hallway there were two people in my line of vision, a little boy dressed as Superman and a nurse, dressed as, well...a nurse.  It was only later that it occurred to me who the real super hero was in that hallway.

If you were lucky enough to grow up as I did, in an environment where everyone was relatively healthy, it was hard to have a real understanding of what exactly caregivers did. Nurses were tidy women who wore pointy hats (they weren't even hats, really, more like origami...how did they keep them on??) who always seemed to want to take your temperature.   Later on in my experience, nurses were people who handed you squalling newborns and tried to help you understand that yes, you have to take this bundle home, and yes, you will be fine!

A Physiotherapist was someone who treated athletes with bad shoulders, and an Occupational Therapist was, well, to be honest I'm not even sure what I thought OTs did.  They sounded to me like people who came into your workplace, took away your office chair, and tried to get you to sit on one of those ridiculous giant exercise balls instead. (For the record, I think this is a terrible idea. No offence to the dear OTs but imagine how much coffee would be spilled if everyone did this??)  And of course, rehab, well that was something that Steven Tyler did.

In my recent experience, I have discovered a brand new legion of super heroes:  Rehabilitation Unit therapists and caregivers.  I can barely manage to put into words what these people do every day and the difference they make in so many lives.  It is difficult to imagine a sudden life changing event that leaves you unable to walk or unable to make any number of the regular movements that get you through each day.  Equally difficult to imagine is slowly being able to recover those abilities.  It does indeed feel hopeless at first, but in the last two months I have had a front row seat as I watched people progress from a bed to a wheelchair, to a walker and often to more independence than they believed possible.  I have heard people begin to speak after weeks of silence.

The nurses, therapists and their support staff become family. They always greet their patients by name and are constantly teaching, guiding, supporting and cheering on every success, no matter how small.  They hand out hope like we hand out Halloween treats.  There is no 30 second television commercial that can convey how hard they work and how important that work is.  

To the men and women of the 7th Floor Rehabilitation Unit at Saskatoon City Hospital, Thank you.  When someone asks you what you do for a living, please do not say, “I am a nurse,” or “I am a therapist.”  Tell them what you really do.