You Know How To Make The Appointment

A Tough Day

I had a neurology follow up yesterday, Mt. Sinai, Dr. Neuro 2, at 2 pm. It was the first time I was going to use Access-A-Ride (A-A-R). A-A-R is run by the city for people that can’t use public transit.

To get it you fill out a bunch of forms, and then they send an A-A-R car to take you out to Queens where you enter a room filled with with crippled people leaning on walkers, canes, and in wheelchairs.

I sat down in one of their low chairs and waited. I should preface this by saying there is a low height chair, I don’t know exactly what the height is, that I can’t get out of on my own because of weakness in one particular muscle-nerve connection.

And of course, all the chairs in that room were that exact height, but I didn’t know it until they called my name and I tried to get up. I won’t go into the whole thing, but suffice to say it is embarrassing when elderly people are yelling advice from the sidelines and encouraging you to stand and one leg feels dead.

But somehow I got up and walked to various places and left with a note saying I was good for AAR for one year, and that I didn’t need an aide to go with me.

Two days ago, I had my first chance to use A-A-R. And btw, you pay the current MTA fare, and it’s not a straight ride, they pick up others as they go.

So my sister texted me to ask how the Neurology Apt went and in the middle of the night, this is what I wrote to her.

Getting there and getting back was a struggle. The access a ride was very late. That in itself was funny because the woman who took the reservation for the pickup car kept saying: the AAR car will be there at 1:03.

  • 1:03 I said, let’s just say 1:00. Nobody knows what the traffic will be going down 2nd avenue.
  • The computer says 1:03 pm so that’s what I have to type in. You don’t play soccer – ha,ha?
  • No. And you’re not the first one to ask that.

There was the first guy, married to a Spice girl and now I think there’s another one whose name is actually Beckerman. Anyway, she wanted to know if there were any Spice Girls around. And I told her they all left after my strokes.

I ended up getting a cab that I could hardly get into while traffic was backed up on 83rd. Then while I was in the cab access a ride kept calling to find out where I was. Finally everyone understood. The driver the dispatcher and someone else that they were 45 minutes late so I was in a cab.

Got there on time for 2:00 appointment. The waiting room was packed. At least 125 people with canes and walkers and wheelchairs. I was still waiting at 2:45 and since I had scheduled the return ride for 3 pm I called access-a-ride and tried to make the pick up later, but they said that wasn’t allowed so I canceled the return trip.

Around 3:30 I got in and they took my vitals. Then they sent me back into the crowded waiting room. At 4pm I got up and went to the reception desk.

I asked if it was always this crowded.



Yeah. You’re here.

I know but my appointment was for 2:00. I already missed my return ride home.

Sorry ’bout that.

An old woman behind me stopped looking at her phone and began following this conversation.

But, I said, if you make the appointment for 2 o’clock and I’m still waiting at 4 – something’s wrong with your scheduling system.

Nothing wrong with it. The appointment system is working.

You know how to take the appointment, you just don’t no how to keep the appointment. And that’s really the whole point of making an appointment.

She looked at me strangely trying to figure out what I was going on about. The woman behind me laughed. Seinfeld, she asked? Right I said.

Well, my seat was taken when I walked back, and of course I sat in the only seat open, which I found out was the lowest chair in the room. And when my name was finally called 20 minutes later, I said: here, and discovered I couldn’t get out of the chair.

My neurologist was Indian with a thick accent,and again he called out Beckmahn. I raised my cane and said I need a hand getting out of this chair. Together we managed launch.

The appointment was fairly redundant. He told me my left leg was still weak (duh) but everything else was improving. I asked him (never give up) whether the neurology waiting room was always that crowded and that I had been waiting two hours… no, more than two hours.

He apologized and called me sir. People think that if you call them sir you can do anything to them.

It was cold and windy, and I had a slightly uphill walk to get a cab on Fifth. Luckily it was a big green cab with lots of legroom and I could get in quickly.

I still had the two long flights at my house to deal with, and the whole day was just exhausting.

1636 University Thread

1636 University Avenue
First of all, there’s no way the court between the buildings could’ve been that narrow (1636 is on the right). Somehow they shrunk the entire courtyard in the 40 years since I lived there.
Long before we had heard of squash or racquet ball, we had a version that must’ve been annoying to the – yes I remember grownups yelling all the time while we bounced a ball from wall to wall.
And that stoop, which I looked up the derivation of once, Dutch, has also been shrunk down.
So that was University Avenue. I never knew why it was called University. I never saw any University around there, but I found out later.
Anyway, University Avenue was a wide boulevard, still is, with a concrete island in the center, and plenty of cars and buses going by.
And my friend, George Rothe (and here’s where GR is really useful because he can tell you which part of this story or any other story is true and which part is a figment of a confused imagination).  My other fault, and you may have noticed this already, is that I tend to favor long run on sentences that meander around before getting to the point, sort of like what I’m doing now.  And this is the age of attention spans geared to memes so I’ll have to call on my other friend, Andy Gordon, who was a school teacher for 30-something years to fix all this meandering up.
So, to the point.  University is a wide blvd.  I lived on the first floor on one side of the avenue, facing the avenue, and George lived on the other side.  Either the 4th or 5th floor?
One of us, probably me, got the idea of taking a spool of thread, I remember his mother was a seamstress, and seeing if we could get the thread to go from his high window, across the blvd and into my window on the first floor.
It required a lot of planning, and an understanding of the traffic signals, and how high were adults with hats on.  I would compare the undertaking to building the Brooklyn Bridge.  With the caveat that there was absolutely no purpose to it.
It was like a bridge, given that it would connect two sides of a sort of gulf, but that’s  about it.
1. George ties one end of the spool of thread to the window  guard and tosses the spool out the fifth floor window to me.  I’m waiting on the sidewalk below.  The spool immediately gets tangled up on the window below George’s.
He has to go down to his neighbor and explain that accidently his mother dropped some thread out the window.  And it’s caught on the window guard.
In case you didn’t grow up in the city, you should at least be told about window guards… [Ed. Not here you don’t].
Well, the neighbor was puzzled about how a spool of thread, (and it was black thread btw) had wound up on her window sill. But George untangled it and was able to unwind enough thread so that I could get the spool which had rolled off the sidewalk between two cars.
Oh, did I have a mop or broom handle with me?  Yes, I think a stickball bat, and I had stuck a thin nail in the top to act as a spindle for the spool of thread.
So by holding the stick with the thread in the air, I ran across to the concrete island while we had the light…
And voila.  Halfway there.
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