My countdown of things to do before I leave New York continued with an unexpected adventure yesterday. Just like I had never been to the top of the Empire State Building until last week, I had never had my foot run over by a livery cab driver and taken to a hospital emergency room in an ambulance until last night either.
The misadventure began after 7 p.m. as my friend Karen and I got in a livery cab in Harlem. She put a heavy box in the middle of the seat and I went around to the other side to get in. The driver saw that Karen was in and took off – as I was halfway in the car. My left shoe remained behind as Karen and I screamed for him to stop. He stopped. I got out to retrieve my broken shoe and climbed back in. Karen, an endodontist, examined my foot. There was no blood, which was a good sign, but the skin on my ankle was broken. She felt my foot, checking for pain and I explained how high my threshold for pain is, especially when it comes to my foot. How I never took one pain pill after having surgery on both feet 11 years ago. She thought I was OK but we both decided X-rays were necessary to rule out fractures, especially with me leaving soon. But first we needed to file a police report because who knows when the hospital or insurance company may need documentation.
The driver was not happy. He explained that he was from the Congo and had a family. I told him I had been to Africa many times and I don’t know how things work in his country but this is the way it is in the States. I explained that he had run over my foot and I needed to get it checked out. My health trumped his family as far as I was concerned. He was reluctant to show me his identification until I told him I was a reporter during our brief stop at Karen’s to drop off her box. He produced his driver’s license, I jotted everything down and we proceeded to the 135th Street police precinct. I had to walk in a broken wedge sandal, dragging my foot to keep the shoe on (I wouldn’t dare walk down a NY street barefoot!!!). So Karen went home to get a pair of flip flops for me while I sat and waited for a white woman to finish filing her report about a strange, unwanted man leaving tokens of affection for her, and the driver went to park the car.
Karen returned with a pair of stark white slippers from a hotel in Calistoga, which she recently visited, and the driver surprisingly came back as well. I thought he would have high-tailed it back to the Congo. The officer told the three of us we had to go back to the scene of the “crime” and call 911 from there because a vehicle was involved.
The driver, Ghouraysiyu Tall, explained that he had left his car on 137th Street and would meet us at the corner. He said if I could just let it go he would be happy because he is concerned about his family. I explained I wasn’t trying to get him in trouble but I did need to have the proper paperwork done just in case. He turned north to go get the car and Karen and I waited at the corner. Soon a jitney pulled up and Karen said for us to get in. I noticed that this jitney looked a little nicer than the scratched up one we were in but it was getting dark, I didn’t have my glasses on and my mind was spinning. I said nothing and hopped in. I thought to myself, “Wasn’t the interior of the other car black? This one is gray.” But still I said nothing because I was more worried about whether I had suffered any damage. Once back at the “scene of the crime” I called 911. The driver was uncooperative when I asked him questions the 911 operator asked me regarding the make and model of the car and his license plate number.
“You ran over my foot,” I screamed at him.
As it turns out, it wasn’t the driver who ran over my foot. It just happened to be another African driving yet another black car!!! Karen and I laughed. They are a dime a dozen in Harlem. Karen paid him and the grateful driver went on his way. Karen realized she had left her mobile phone in driver No. 1’s car. It was a sign from above, I told her! Now I could reach the culprit. I called Karen’s cell and sure enough driver No. 1 answered her phone. I told him we were back at the scene of the crime and to come there. He never showed. Karen and I kept calling back but she realized she had only one bar left on her battery so maybe the phone was dead.
In the meantime, Emergency Medical Services arrived. One technician, Manuel, was very nice and the other had the personality of a flea. I sat in the back to give my report and entertained them with my humor. Once Manuel started pressing on my feet, I was grateful I had used a gift certificate from Lori for a spa pedicure at Trevi Nails just hours ago. My feet were beautiful and callous free! Mr. No Personality took my blood pressure, which had skyrocketed to 150/90. I don’t have hypertension and my usual blood pressure is 120/80 or 110/80. But I explained that I had never been in an ambulance before so all this excitement had me going.
Manuel called for NYPD again since we had been waiting a while. A cruiser finally pulled up but then suddenly sped off after probably getting a more important call. Karen, who has her own dental practice on the Upper West Side but does some work at Harlem Hospital, Manuel and I debated about which hospital I should go to. Harlem Hospital? Harlem North General? St. Luke’s? Where would the wait be the shortest? Which is the cleanest? Has the best equipment? If Karen had her phone she could have made a call to Harlem Hospital to ensure that I was seen immediately. We finally decided on St. Luke’s.
Finally a NYPD officer arrived and said the officer at the 135th Street Precinct should have taken the report but was too lazy to do so. This officer said he couldn’t take a report because I didn’t have Ghouraysiya’s license plate number. He said if I had gotten the license plate number then they could arrest him for hit-and-run. I briefly imagined Ghouraysiyu being deported. This wasn’t what I wanted. I just wanted his name on a report. I showed him the culprit’s driver’s license information and clueless officer asked if the nine digit driver’s license number was the driver’s telephone number? Last time I checked, there are 10 digits (not nine) in a telephone number. The young officer gave me a blank form to fill out and give to my insurance company should I need it. Thanks for nothing. But at least Manuel noted the badge number on his report. It seems to me a driver’s license is more useful because with cabs, usually 2 or 3 different people drive them so arresting someone on a hit-and-run because they’re driving a car that was used in a hit-and-run doesn’t make sense to me. Don’t they need the driver’s number? Anyway, I digress.
Now it was time to go to the hospital. I bid Karen goodbye because she should have been en route to Maryland for Mother’s Day. Only thing is she couldn’t reach the woman she was riding with because she didn’t have her number. It was stored in her cell phone, which Driver No. 1 had refused to answer again and/or which had a dead battery. Like many of us today, she hadn’t memorized the woman’s number. We’re all too dependent on our cell phones storing numbers and don’t memorize them. Let this be a lesson. She tried other people who may have the friend’s number but couldn’t reach anyone. Her parents were in a movie. Another dentist was at an event. She had to find this woman and I told her I would be OK. She told me to call her home number so she would have my BlackBerry number. I did just that and a few minutes later she called me. “How cute is that young guy?” she blurted out. Yes, Manuel is a cutie, I agreed. And here I thought she was concerned about my foot!!
I hung up from Karen and of course told Manuel what Karen said about him. He blushed. He buckled me in the ambulance but I asked would it be better if I lay down on the stretcher and be wheeled in. He said if I wanted the full treatment then he could certain give it to me but assured me that they would use a wheelchair when we got to the hospital. OK. I sat up for the ride. On the way to the hospital Manuel and I chatted about expensive insurance premiums, deductibles, union dues, etc. I asked him if he could put me on his insurance but he said we would have to get married. He wasn’t flirting, just stating a fact. I told him I could marry him, as long as he didn’t want any children. “I’m only 21,” he informed me. Yikes! I had no idea he was that young. He knew my age and we joked that he could be my boy toy.
Once inside the hospital my vitals were taken. Not only was my blood pressure higher but my heart rate was at 92!!! Would I have a heart attack too? Oh no! At least I was already in the hospital. Manuel continued to stay with me and answered questions for me so I didn’t even have to speak. I was impressed that he remembered information I had told him like what I was allergic to (aspirin). I love this guy!
Thankfully I got sent to the Fast Track. “Whoo-hoo, this is like an EZ Pass lane. I’ll be in and out in no time,” I said to Manuel, who suggested I not get too happy just yet. He wheeled me to a private room, making sure to back me in so I would be able to see out and not face a wall. How thoughtful! Finally it was time for him to go too and I told him goodbye and thanked him for all of his help.
A lady came in to have me sign away my life and give me a Bill of Rights that included a proxy. Such serious stuff. Organ donation, etc. She told me how beautiful my teeth are. How nice of her to notice. These people are great. A few minutes later Dr. Resa Lewiss came in and examined my foot. I was wheeled to X-ray and the male technician complimented me on my well-manicured feet. “You should see what comes in here,” he said. The technician wheeled me down the hall and toward a a waiting room with the general population. No, I wasn’t here, I told him. “Oh, you were in Fast Track,” he said. Yes! He wheeled me to an area with three other people but I explained that I was in Exam Room A, looking out at the other people. I wasn’t really mingling with the masses. I got my private room back. Yeah, baby. I liked this hospital. I’m showered with compliments and treated like a V.I.P. Then I decided I wanted to go to the bathroom. The nice gentleman wheeled me to the bathroom and waited for me. After I relived myself in a pathetically, unclean bathroom for a hospital he wheeled me back to Exam Room A.
I barely had time to read one article in USA Today when the RN Carlos Cruz came in and said that the x-rays showed no fractures. I was grateful. The doctor came in and talked to me. Carlos wrapped my foot and ankle in an ace bandage, which I don’t think I’ve ever had on before. He too complimented me on my feet and told me what he often sees. I got up to walk to the desk and talk to the doctor. She and Carlos expressed shock because they were going to get me cane. “No, I can walk just fine I said. It’s just that everyone was so nice about wheeling me around that why would I walk on my own?”
Carlos pointed out that I was wearing hotel slippers so I figured he’s a traveler. I explained that my shoe was broken thanks to the culprit driver and a friend who had just been in Calistoga gave me the slippers. The doctor asked, “Don’t they have springs in Calistoga?” Yes, I told her. She said she had been there. Oh, I love this traveling staff.
I was sent to discharge and Princess (I told her I always wanted that name) told me that because it was a “no fault” that I wouldn’t be billed. Hooray! Manuel had already told me that a ride in the ambulance was $600. And we only went from 121st and Frederick Douglas to 114th and Amsterdam. Not even a mile. Talk about an expensive ride.
I caught a jitney home. Exhausted and hungry. I have no food because I eat out every day now that I am moving on Tuesday. I only have protein bars. And since I’m in Harlem, my choices for food include Popeye’s and potato chips, cookies and bananas with brown spots at the bodega. I’ll go hungry. I watched a few minutes of the Lakers’ game and, convinced they would beat Houston, climbed into bed, knowing I would fall asleep in two seconds, thus forgetting that I hadn’t eaten dinner.
Now it’s morning. My stomach is growling. My ankle hurts a wee bit but I’ll tough it out without taking anything. I’m not big on pain medicine. I had hoped to make it to the gym for my final workout before my membership expires at the end of the day but I don’t dare chance working out.
Karen, who made it to Maryland around 1 a.m., already called to check on me – and to tell me how lucky I was to have cutie pie Manuel feeling up my feet. I’m just glad I got that spa pedicure. Too bad the driver Ghouraysiyu didn’t return her phone. What a pain since she doesn’t have her numbers backed up anywhere. But I gave her his address, 325 E. 109th Street, Apt. 2B., NY, NY 10029. DOB 8-7-67. Driver’s license number 548-807-042. Class E, issued 3-19-09.
My foot is still wrapped in the bandage and I’m wondering if after I take my bath, if I’ll be able to wrap it as well as Carlos did. I also wonder how my bandaged foot and ankle is going to look in my Jimmy Choos at my going away party tonight.