A Few Minutes with the Mayor – September 2017

We all have one of “those days,” a day when unforeseen circumstances alter our plans. Sometimes they offer pleasant surprises. Oftentimes they are anything but pleasant. I had one of these in late July, and thought it worth sharing.

The morning began much as the evening before ended with a virus playing ping pong in my nasal passages. This had been going on for over a week when I finally decided I needed a bigger paddle and opted to see my doctor… but first a morning trip to the office was on the list. Upon arriving I found out Jeff Alvis, our City Administrator, had come in with his own ping pong tournament bouncing in his head. After due commiseration with each other, I went about my morning tasks and returned home.

Sharon was still working the box-office at the Randall Theatre so I laid down to rest thinking that she could drive me to the doctor when she got home. After an hour or so, I arose, went to the bathroom where the ping pong tournament turned into a giant whirling merry-go-round. After a few spins in my head, the carousel horses went up and I went down…on my knees.

Feeling like a prize fighter hearing the referee’s final count, I struggled to get up but instead pitched straight forward on my face. Lying flat, I pulled out my cellphone, called Sharon, who then called 911. I was still half-down when our Fire Department arrived at my home.

A big brawny fellow with a voice to match asked, “What’s your birthdate?” I answered. Then he asked, “What’s your address?” I hesitated and saw an attempt on his part to hide a quick look of concern. Though in a haze from the virus and the effects of the fall, I quickly blurted out the answer. The concern was still there as burly voice number two asked, “What city are you in?” Feeling somewhat irked, and emboldened by a false bravado, I replied, “The same city in which I’m the Mayor.” There was no escape. The voice came back, “Yes! But what city is that?” I gave the answer and then found myself strapped and being placed in an ambulance.

This time a feminine voice asked, “What’s your date of birth?” Somewhat meek at this point, I promptly answered. But we no sooner pulled out onto Highway 238 when another voice asked, “What’s your date of birth?” Beginning to doubt my own answer, I repeated, “eleven fourteen twenty-nine.” Evidently satisfied, the questions stopped.

Oregon may have some of the finest highways in the country but Medford has streets worse than Baghdad after a street battle. Lying flat on a stretcher, I felt the ambulance start bouncing and rattling… clink, clank, clunk. The ride was interminable because the ambulance was evidently detoured pretty far out of the way. A voice from some unseen quarter apologized as we continued to rattle as if crossing endless railroad tracks, though Medford has only one old rail route. I can sum up the ambulance drive as an audio engineer’s delight.

Suddenly, all motion stopped, the back doors opened, and a startlingly attractive smiling face popped into view asking, “What’s your date of birth?” I wanted to say, “If you give me yours, I’ll give you mine,” but caution prevailed and I gave her the answer.

The face turned me over to two husky orderlies; we went flying down a corridor, made a sharp right turn and wound up in my own personal emergency room with an attending nurse. If hospitals had military ranks, this one would have had master sergeant stripes. She looked like the kind that understood trench warfare and someone you would feel comfortable following into battle. Her first words were, “What’s your date of birth?”

Soon, I was hooked up to all sorts of medical gear. A doctor walked in, looked everything over, asked questions and left. Finally, at 8:30pm, seven hours after the 911 call, the doctor returned to say, “I can’t find any reason to keep you here so I’m letting you go home with a prescription for that virus.”

Walking out of the hospital with my son, I looked around and was thankful that no one asked my date of birth. I was off their chart!