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There are times when I am in complete awe of the obliviousness that some people roam this earth with. I saw something today that just amazed me.

I met Claudine at the hospital today to sign some papers to refinance our mortgage. I know that seems like an odd place to sign mortgage papers but there is an actual branch of Claudine's bank IN the hospital. When Claudine first moved back to New Jersey from D.C., she needed to open new accounts. Why not use the bank that is in the location where you'll spend the majority of your time for the next two years. You know when you have to get to the bank and you have to leave work earlier or have to cut into your lunch hour? Well, imagine not being able to physically leave your place of work for 72 hours. See how convienent that bank being there is? And since she still is over at the hospital at least twice a week, it still is pretty convenient.

Now during Claudine's residency I was over at the hospital quite a bit. I learned the ins and outs of the hospital pretty well. I knew where to find the best parking spots, which elevator had the least traffic and which guards would hassle me when I was going back to the call room. But I haven't been to the hospital regularly for a couple of years and I think that the last time I was there was last January for my own operation. In that time the hospital has changed their procedure for parking and how to pay for it.

It used to be that when you pulled into the lot, you'd stop at one of those gated thingys that won't raise the gate until you press the button and take your ticket. Then when you were leaving, you stop at the little booth located at the exit of the parking lot where you'd give you ticket to the little man or woman in the booth. They'd run your ticket through the little machine and tell you how much you ohad to pay to get out. You paid and out you went.

When I pulled into the lot today, there were thousands of signs all over the parking lot (thousands may be an exaggeration - but there were a lot). All the signs said "Stop! Please bring your parking ticket in to the hospital with you. The payment center is now conveniently located in our lobby." Fine. I usually bring my ticket in with me anyway. My dad told me to do that when I parked in big airport lots. He said that if someone steals your car, the thief not having the parking ticket when he (or she) tries to exit triggers a little bit of an investigation by the parking people. I don't know if that is true, but it made sense to me. As for bringing the ticket in with me when I was at the hospital, once Claudine was chief resident in her fourth year, she could go down to the security desk and get the parking ticket validated for me. Yay! Beating the system! Anyway, I locked the car and walked to the parking lot exit. There along the walkway were more signs explaining the new parking procedure. I finally crossed the street toward the hospital entrance. Where there were MORE signs warning all patrons that they must bring their parking tickets INTO the hospital to pay.

Fast forward to me leaving. We've signed all the papers and we're out in the lobby. You can't really pass through the lobby without seeing the parking payment machines. Or the giant signs surrounding them explaining their purpose. I put my tickee in the slotee and it spits it back out telling me that I don't owe anything because I was there less than an hour. Cool. Claudine and I walk to the front door. Claudine makes a left 'cause she's parked in the doctor's lot while I have to join the rest of the masses in the peon parking lot. I get to the end of the line leading to the exit of the lot and come to a dead stop. Line not moving. No line movee. Stationary. No move. I look around the long line of cars and see that the other line ('cause there are two exits lanes for the parking lot) is wide open and functioning fine. I pull around the line of six cars and put my ticket into the machine controlling the gate. And as I look over, I watch the woman in the car at the front of the other line get out of her car and start walking into the hospital. And she looks pissed. So it's obvious that she missed every single sign outlining the parking procedures. Once the line of cars see her get out, the honking starts. And, of course, after they see me pull around to the open lane, there is a mass exodus from the first line. I wonder how many times a day that happens. How many oblivious people are out there?