Friday, January 20, 2012

A No-lunch Day

The Langham called 11 a.m., a perfect time. I was finishing at the gym; I could shower, make the visit, and return home for lunch.

The gym is near the 405 freeway, a few miles from my home. It’s not my usual route for the 25 mile drive to Pasadena, being slightly further, but I decided to experiment. A mile after I set out, traffic stopped cold as far as the eye could see.

That’s when I remembered we are adding a single northbound lane to the 405 through Sepulveda Pass. There’s no room, so workers must rebuild every overpass, carve out and reinforce cliffs, and heap up dirt to widen the roadway. This six-mile addition will cost a billion dollars. I cannot think how much mass transportation a billion dollars would buy if there were any political support.

After fifteen minutes of creeping, I reached an exit and took old Sepulveda Boulevard past the construction. While driving, I answered a call from an insurance service and agreed to see a Brazilian boy with a fever in Huntington Beach. Huntington Beach is in Orange County, forty-five miles from my house. It could have been worse; it’s the same distance from Pasadena.

The Langham guest was a Washington Post reporter with a respiratory infection. He was covering a local convention, so the paper was paying for his room at the very posh Langham, but it wasn’t paying his medical expenses, so he had phoned several times before deciding on a visit. I delivered advice and medication before proceeding on my way.

The knowledge that I’ll miss a meal stimulates my appetite, so I suck on hard candy from a supply I carry. I never grab a bite at a hotel because I love eating and prefer to remain hungry and take care of obligations, so I can relax and enjoy it.

After shaking my hand, the Brazilian father reminded me that I had visited him a month earlier. Over most of the US, travel insurers send clients to clinics or emergency rooms. Having a doctor appear at their door is more pleasant, so Los Angeles travelers lose their inhibitions about asking for help, and I see many repeat customers. After examining his son, I explained this it wasn’t necessary to give him a cold shower for his 101 temperature. He would feel bad for a few days and then recover; I handed out four packets of Tylenol.

It was after 3 when I pulled into my garage and answered a call from the Westin at the airport. This was one of those what-might-have-been calls because I’d passed the freeway exit only blocks from the Westin half an hour earlier. I retraced the route to care for a lady with a painful eye, returning in time for supper.

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