Mariner is of an age similar to his favored old pickup truck. In times past, he and the truck had good times together hauling lumber, driving through snow and floods, tossing hay to the livestock, driving across the continent, towing everything from logs to sailboats. Even now the truck’s power and drive chain work fine. The interior shows wear, is stained in places from coffee, oil and chemicals. The body is rusting through at the quarter panels and the rear bumper shows a patch of rust. Manufactured in 2002, it is just a plain old truck without the high-tech toys of new models. The fact is the good times are in the past; it sits in the shed a lot. It isn’t worth much anymore and the time has come to weigh the cost of keeping it on the road or cashing out with whatever one can get on the market.
So it is with mariner.
In fact, the comparison is very similar – just switch the word truck for mariner. Fortunately, most humans aren’t sold to a junk yard or forced into life-ending labor. Mariner will lumber on, sitting in the shed a lot and pursuing chores of less dimension and adventure. Do not construe this perspective as depression. One senses that times and experiences change as one grows older; mariner doesn’t jitterbug anymore or play football or shoe horses or work 17-hour days but there are other pleasantries that emerge: Time to enjoy others around you simply because they are there. Time to piddle (piddle means to be deeply occupied with issues of little significance – a strange blue flower in the hedge row; squirrels living an entire life experience in the back yard; watching the wife fold clothes; writing posts for the Ancient Mariner.)
It is time to take mariner to a garage for a full checkup. The garage is called Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Having experienced only the typical clinics and hospitals scattered about the towns and cities of the United States, mariner is struck by the different way this colossal medical city performs in comparison. Mariner is assigned to an admissions team of 23 physicians, nurses, specialists and clinical assistants who quickly launch Mayo operations into dozens of examinations, diagnostics, and consultations all of which reveal pleasingly extensive expertise among the mechanics. His first visit, primarily a discovery of who is mariner, took three days.
Mariner is back for a few days of continued testing and data gathering and to have consultations that discuss the ramifications of rusty quarter panels. He must state that the overwhelming advice is to get out of the shed and back on the road. In the near future, mariner will visit Mayo again to discuss the carburetor and the GPS.
Aside from the medical efficiency and notable expertise are the experience of tunnels and the logistics of moving smoothly from one check-in desk to the next covering 19 floors in two Admissions buildings. Available to patients are many rooms for urine tests, bloodletting, x-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs and other functions such that the patient moves quickly between stations.
But it is the tunnels that are the most fascinating experience. As the reader may know, Minnesota harbors the coldest winter weather in the United States. Mayo likely would empty in the winter. Mayo has dealt with this by arranging tunnels between every hospital building, along with several hotels and restaurants. One never need face the bracing experience of high winds and whiteouts above. Mayo truly is a city within the City of Rochester. Its tunnels are as busy as a major airport or Grand Central Station. In the main tunnel, a cavernous space, patients continuously play a grand piano.
Finally, it’s a great place to have prescriptions filled.
Mariner gives Mayo high marks across the board – which is in line with their annual rating for US hospitals: number 1 every year.