My phone rang as I was driving to the Langham in Pasadena. Coris USA, a travel insurer, had a housecall. Since I was on the freeway, I couldn’t write, so I asked for the address, planning to collect the remaining information from the patient. I hate to be late, so I told the dispatcher I might not arrive for two or three hours.
The Langham guest had a sore throat, an uncomplicated visit. I reached the Coris destination, a private house in Hollywood, an hour after the call. The gate in the surrounding fence was locked. The buzzer felt loose in its housing, giving the impression that it was broken. This seemed the case because no one appeared.
What to do… Usually I phone the patient, but I didn’t have a number. I considered phoning Coris, but whoever answered would ask for the patient’s name which I also didn’t have. He might or might not succeed in tracking down the original dispatcher, but it was guaranteed I’d spend a long time on hold in a chilly drizzle.
The railing was my height, and there were footholds. I was tempted. The passersby certainly wondered at an elderly man in a suit struggling over a fence, but I succeeded without falling or tearing my clothes.
The young woman who answered the door denied that anyone wanted me. It turned out this was not a private house but a youth hostel. The woman consulted other residents; one remembered someone who had called a doctor, but she had left.
The resident didn’t have her phone number but offered to leave a message on Facebook. I called Coris to warn them that matters were not looking well.
After ten minutes the door burst open, revealing the patient, gasping for breath after running several blocks. The visit itself was uncomplicated.