Thursday, January 28, 2010

Doctors don't get snow days

...just dirty looks.

One of the things I really miss about studying at Undergrad U is living on campus. I could speed-walk to any given building within 7 minutes if I had to (I mean straight across campus). I could roll out of bed, hit up an hour of lecture, then meander my way back home for breaks.

When I returned to Toronto to pursue higher education and based myself out of my parents' house in the suburbs, many of my classmates called me crazy. They weren't all wrong. The fact of the matter is that even though some people live a 20-minute walk from school, and I live (on a good day) a 20-minute drive from my base hospital, 20-minutes walking and driving are totally different. Yes, walking is cold and driving is warm. These distinctions aside, the farther away you live, the more unpredictable your travel time.

If you live a 20-minute walk from where you're educated, a 20-minute walk is a 20-minute walk (25 tops). Come sun, rain, or snow, your walking speed doesn't change. The sidewalks don't get congested beyond your ability to maneuver.

If you live a 20-minute drive from where you're educated, a 10-minute difference in when you get out the door can mean a 30-minute difference in arrival time. That 20-minute commute can turn into a 50-minute commute if you hit that rush hour traffic.

If you live a 10-minute drive from the subway plus a 40-minute ride? That's 50-minutes on a good day and "you're f*cked" on a bad day. Traffic accident? Snowstorm? TTC fail? Give up now. The further away you have to commute, the wider the standard deviation of your commute time. You're annoyed on a good day, having a heart attack on a bad one (read: exam day).

This morning, my clinical skills course was scheduled for a downtown session, taking advantage of all the excellence in neonatal care concentrated in the downtown core. The session was 8:30 AM. I got out of the house at 7:40. 15-20 minutes to the subway. 30 minutes down. Good?

Hardly. Traffic was backed up like there's no tomorrow and it was snowing! At one point, the snow came down so furiously the road was pretty much whited out. Cars were moving by inches every time the light turned green and I was going nowhere fast. Frustrated, I finally arrived at a the junction from which I could detour from Yonge Street's obscene congestion and turned off onto a parallel side-street, which usually serves me well when the going gets tough.

The minute I turned onto the street... lo and behold - flashing lights. Traffic was backed up until the first traffic light because of several firetrucks and police cars. You have got to be kidding me! Stuck at the light, I quickly texted one of my friends for the mobile number of one of the girls in my clinical skills group. Thankfully, she texted back promptly, providing the number I needed to call my group-member. I informed the group-member that I was stuck in traffic and to let our tutor know I would be late by at least 10-15 minutes. The light turned green again, and I quickly truncated my conversation and put down the phone. After all, there were several police officers in the intersection just ahead, and the last thing I needed right now was a ticket.

I finally made it to the subway station and parked at an alternate parking lot (because of my detoured route). I stepped out of the car: Holy frick it's cold! I walked as fast as I could to the station, my tibialis muscles burning from trying to stabilize my speed-walking towards the station on the traction-reduced snowy ground without PK-ing. I had recently switched back from wearing dress boots all the time to wearing normal dress shoes and runners. Why had I done this?

I contemplated tweeting on my walk to the station, but decided not to. I wish I had because it wasn't until I got to the station that I realized I had left my BlackBerry in the car. Not keen on losing my window, I speed-walked back (already tremendously late), picked up my phone, and high-tailed it back to the station. FML.

I caught the first subway that I could, which was of course packed. I stood for the ride downtown. One of the benefits of catching the train at the end of the line is that you almost always get a seat. From a seat, you're comfortable and relaxed for the whole ride. Standing, you get packed uncomfortably against other bodies, pushed around by rapid accelerations, and it's virtually impossible to sleep. This was particularly tragic today since this week has left me hypervigilant, overstressed, and underslept. My eyes have started to resemble raccoons and dreams have started to inject themselves into my waking world during lecture.

Luckily, my tutor took my tardiness with a grain of salt. In fact, he took the opportunity to buy my peers a cup of Joe (and that's where I caught up with them when I finally walked in). He asked me if I wanted anything, but I waved off the suggestion - already feeling guilty for having wasted so much of their time. I wish I had agreed though. I could have damn used that coffee. I think, just maybe... I need to move closer.


Another entertaining anecdote from today:

E: What's your real name, Andy?

A: My real name? Well................

M: How do you know that Andy's not his real name?

A: Yeah, how do you know that Andy's not my real name?

E: Well, now I know, given how long you just paused.

A: Fine. Well actually, my birth name is Awesome.


sandlot said...

Yes, you should move closer. To me.

Joyce said...

Another reason why i chose to live downtown even though i could technically commute. :'D


shirls said...

Do you watch Chuck?
There's a character they call, 'Captain Awesome'. He's a cardiovascular surgeon.

Devon Christian "Captain Awesome" Woodcomb, M.D., is a character on the TV series Chuck, portrayed by Ryan McPartlin. His nickname comes from his love of extreme sports and his frequent usage of the word "awesome" in conversation.

Word Verification: scesso

a_ndy said...

Haha, I watched exactly 3 episodes of Chuck. But yes, I did see one with Awesome in it.