FIRST STOP BALTIMORE – PART ONE
So we got into Baltimore with time enough to donate all our Toys for Kids paraphernalia we have gathered for months. Every 70% sale after Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day we buy up scads of toys; stuffed animals, sunglasses, toys, action figures, Princess Dresses, Marvel Action Character Costumes and more. I suggested we call ahead, but Coletta was convinced the wasn't needed and I have found it easier not to argue with her (more about that later). That didn't mean I didn't ask more than once, "Don't you think we ought to call ahead so someone can meet us in the lobby?" she insisted we would deal with it when we arrived. Her appointment with her oncologist wasn't until 11:00 and we made time to arrive at 10:15 so I clammed up (I am fully capable of doing that all you doubters...)
I suggested we pull into the drop off zone in front of the hospital, but she chided me for worrying about carrying one black garbage bag FILLED with stuffed animals, a paper bag with toys and sunglasses, and about a dozen children's halloween costumes on hangars in a plastic carry bag and a few other less cumbersome items, so....we parked, walked across the street to the hospital and checked in. We asked where the Children's Cancer Ward was, and the lady handing out the parking passes referred us to the Information desk who told us it was on the fifth floor (we knew that) and not much more. We thanked her and walked towards the bank of elevators in the main lobby. The lady from the Information desk came after us shouting, "You need to take the South Elevators."
Now one thing you need to understand, is the University of Maryland Medical Center was literally built AROUND the old hospital with a large open area in the center reaching up to the sky surrounded by "wings" accessed by three banks of elevators one in the North tower where we started but were turned back, another bank in the Central tower just outside the Atrium, and a third set in the South tower. It's one of those, "You can't get there from here " moments. So we trudged with our bags and dresses and garumps through the Central tower to the South tower taking its elevators to the fifth floor. Hmmm. Did not look familiar, so we stopped a nurse, "No not on this wing, you need to try the North wing? "We told her we had, "been there done that" maybe the Central tower? We headed back down to the first floor, made our way to the Central tower, took an elevator up to the fifth floor, and though it was definitely a kid place with a big playground with toys in the center of the lobby, the guard there was even more confused when we asked if this was the Children's Cancer Ward. He babbled on in unintelligible phrases about triage and recovery and no he didn't think this was the right place...we left him and went back down to the first floor lobby to return to the north tower (the only one we had NOT checked out).
Unlike many men adverse to asking for directions, I do it. Frequently. On our way down to the first floor I asked the nurse, who turned out to be a hospital social worker and BINGO she knew exactly where we needed to go, but were we aware that the ward was closed, that the children had compromised immune systems and all. We knew that. The last time we made donations two years ago we CALLED AHEAD AND NURSES FROM THE WARD CAME DOWN TO MEET US. The social worker walked us to an office on the first floor near the main lobby and told us we could leave all our bags and dresses there and she would call the social worker from the Children's Cancer Ward who could come down and take delivery of the donations. Could we leave our names and contact information so they would know who made the donations? At THIS point it was 10:45 (yes we spent (wasted) 45 minutes parking, walking to the hospital, riding the elevators UP, riding the elevators DOWN and walking the wings. Coletta said she had to go check in, her husband (me) would finish up and with that she was gone.
I gave the social worker our names and contact information with a note where we wanted the gifts to go. I explained that all the items were brand new, bought on sale at seasons' ends, and showed her a few of the items. She was duly impressed and appreciative. I knew they were in good hands and I walked out the door across the lobby to the Cancer Center (for adults) and Coletta waiting there. No need for any elevators.