I can count on two hands the number of times I've visited the emergency room since becoming a mom over twelve years ago. There have been broken elbows (notice the plural), a broken finger, stitches, and, embarrassingly, a case of strep throat that seems like a waste of the doctors' training. (Now I know that symptoms of strep can affect the stomach just as much as the throat.) And there have been times where I've been to the E.R. so often that our visits tipped off the social worker. Maybe the doctor was suspicious when I told him that my son gouged his upper lip on a rounded, wooden coat peg in his preschool classroom. To this day I'm stumped as to how it happened. I'm thankful the hospital investigates potential abuse, but ours was nothing more than recurrent accidents from that same clumsy gene.
As soon as I saw the valet stand my already elevated anxiety peaked, realizing that not only would I have to worry about my sick child, but now I had the added pressure of having to pay a tip later on. My wallet is always empty, without so much as jingling change, because Peter usually raids it before ice cream day at school. And I'm not about to search out an ATM in the hospital or pay a convenience fee just to withdraw money. Sure, the hospital advertises the complimentary service, but we all know it's not. The valet guys work for tips and are probably paid like waiters, only they specialize in cramming cars into tight spaces instead of serving culinary dishes and overpriced libations.
This night the parking lot was nearly empty, but parking myself was prohibited for liability reasons. Further, there was no convenient side parking lot exempt from the valet policy. I was trapped. Yet another situation I despise. I exited the car, already feeling consumed with guilt, knowing that I'd ultimately have to break the news that a friendly thank-you was the only 'tip' I could offer. A virtually useless gesture with no monetary value. My anxiety festered for hours, all the while I was shuffled through the never expedited process of after-hours care. I still think about that night.
So I have to ask: Is valet service really necessary at the E.R.? Wouldn't most severe cases arrive by ambulance; thus, making the convenience a luxury more than necessity? I would love to know your thoughts.