The Raw Vegan: Part LXXXIII, Flashback Time

Once again, the hazard of writing one’s life story in real time has come to the fore. I left out some adventures that really must be incorporated so here I go.

It was hard to imagine, but the corporation that owned our little hospital plus several others decided to relocate. When I was in Pasadena, I had been given a tour of the IT area and saw the gigantic servers all lined up in a room that was air-conditioned in the extreme. I don’t know if they chartered a C-130 or what, but they flew all those servers to Houston, Texas, and had them installed and up and running overnight.

All of the Business Office Managers (BOMs) were summoned to Houston for several days to network. I flew down and was pretty tired by the time I got to the airport. We were being housed at the Hotel Sofitel and the hotel “limo” (a van) had been dispatched to pick me up. I was planning to link to the hotel but when I Googled it, I got a link that said the Houston hotel has closed. Oh, well, all things must come to an end. Back to my story. The driver was a young man about the age of DD. I was hungry so I asked him if there were any restaurants in the hotel area where a vegetarian could get a good meal. He took one look at me (I must’ve looked pretty rough) and suggested room service. That sounded like an excellent idea.

The lobby was huge and luxurious and check-in was a breeze.

Hotel Sofitel Lobby

When I got to the room, I was impressed with the sumptuousness. There was a rose in a bud vase in the bathroom and chocolates on the pillows.

"My" Bathroom

I called room service and talked to whoever answered the phone and explained what I wanted. I’d perused the menu and found nothing there that would fit my way of eating. I was told to leave it to the chef and I would have a good meal. All I could do was trust.

It didn’t take long for a knock to sound on the door. I peeked out the peephole and there was a man in a black suit bearing a large tray. I opened the door and he swept inside saying, “I brought you ze steck,” and then he laughed. I told him if that was what he’d brought, he could take it back. He set the tray on the marble coffee table and proceeded to give me the tour. I had a salad (small by my standards now but generous then), a loaf of wonderful freshly baked crusty bread with huge pats of butter, pasta with grilled veggies seasoned with a nice olive oil and, to top it off, a huge bowl of fresh strawberries with a pitcher of thick cream. I was in hog heaven.

After I’d tipped the man and double-locked the door, I shucked my clothes and sat on the couch in my undies while I dug in. Andy Griffith was on and it was me, the food and the TV. The meal was delicious, possibly the best cooked food meal I’ve ever had, and the entertainment was (and still is) topnotch. I ate every bite and even licked the platter, plate and bowl. There wasn’t even a crumb of bread left. I was stuffed.

I was allowed to put one phone call on the expense account so I called Mother to let her know I’d arrived okay. We talked about the latest and I told her about my nice digs and she was thrilled. She lived vicariously through her children.

During the next few days, we were treated like royalty. The lobby at the corporate building was gorgeous.

Corporate Building Lobby

However, the meal we had was a little on the sparse side for someone who didn’t eat meat. The banquet room was on the top floor and the view was spectacular. Even though I’d let it be known that I didn’t eat like everyone else, I got a small plate with a small salad for my lunch. The others I was sitting with donated the parts of their meals I could eat and I didn’t starve until I could go somewhere else for a proper meal.

The days were filled with meetings with snore-able topics and data but after hours, we went out to eat. I was the only tee-totaler in the bunch and watching the others get tanked made me glad I wasn’t acting as foolish as they were. When we’d get back to the hotel, some would make it to the bar to imbibe some more but I’d go up to the peace and quiet of my room and relax. Our ideas of fun were poles apart.

It was back to Tennessee and back to work.

There was one more trip to Houston with all the BOMs gathering. This time, though, the corporation had fallen on hard times and had been taken over by another corporation that didn’t look kindly on staying at luxury hotels and carousing on expense accounts. There was no dining with the executives on the top floor and the lobby was minus the beautiful carefully tended plants. The offices had been all but gutted with a skeleton crew manning the sinking ship. It was sad.

Whenever I would have to call an IT person for help, I’d hear that someone else had been let go. It got to be depressing.

Once again, it was BOM workshop time but this was different. Instead of bringing all of us to Houston, there were “regional” get-togethers. Mine was in a town not far away and was held at one of the home health agencies. We had sack lunches. A big change.

It wasn’t just stress at work, however. There was also stress at home. DD had a boyfriend she’d left in California for the Christmas holiday and he and she kept in close touch via email. We didn’t know about Telnet so she was calling directly into the email system clear across the country. My long distance was something like 10¢ a minute and she assured me she wouldn’t stay online too long. I hoped she was right. It was several weeks after she left that the bill came and I just about choked. It was over $200. What added insult to injury is they’d broken up the day she arrived back at the college.

Along with the lay-offs I’d mentioned in my previous chapter, the buzz was that the hospital was going to be closed by the new corporation. No wonder I was having a pain in my gut.

One of the billers fetched a wheelchair and put me in it. There was an internist just across the parking lot and she pushed me the short distance and no one objected to working me in at the last minute.

The doctor examined me closely and, based on my symptoms, diagnosed me with the beginnings of an ulcer. For the short term, we’d treat it with medication but if that didn’t work, I would have to have a gastroscope. He ordered lab work to test for H. pylori and prescribed Prilosec. It wasn’t over-the-counter then and the pharmacist informed me that the 30 day supply I was getting would have cost me well over $200 if I hadn’t had a prescription card.

The rumors were swirling and a couple of hospital systems came to look us over. We did due diligence for the first and supplied it for the second, as well. The administrator decided to take an offer of a more stable position and left. Would the hospital survive?

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