As I have preciously related, I have a knack for going the wrong way, reflecting perhaps a lack of “spatial sense,” as my husband kindly calls it. Whether in San Diego or Chicago, St Louis or Tucson, I manage to choose the wrong direction. In San Diego at the Zoo, I “gently coerced” my son into pushing my wheelchair up a hill, at the top of which stood a previously unseen sign: “Wheelchairs keep off. Gradient too steep.” In St Louis, as a new young instructor at Washington University, I managed to land up at St Louis City Hospital instead of St Louis County Hospital. They are, for you non-Missourians, miles and miles apart, in totally opposite directions.
Sometimes, just sometimes, however, my poor sense of direction pays dividends. Let’s back track in time and return to Chicago. As a medical student I walked or biked to school. In my senior year, I gained access to a car which I utilized for interviews for internships. At one such interview, I had to park in a dreaded narrow circular parking garage – a type of facility with which I had no previous experience. After taking a parking stub, as instructed (so I thought) by the attendant in the booth, I started up the parking ramp. Suddenly, I heard him and thence saw him running after me. “Lady, Lady Stop, stop. You are going up the down ramp. Please get out of your car. I will park it” (a request I had previously made, but which was initially rejected). And so he did. And on my return from the interview, to the utter amazement of the other individuals who had parked their cars in the garage, he volunteered to obtain my car and deliver it to me. And, so I had my first experience with valet parking – and this one was a freebee!