There was a time in my life when I worked in the major cities of Philadelphia and Baltimore. I look back at this time in my life with fondness. Once, when I worked for a small rehabilitation hospital for children located on the outskirts of Philly near Fairmount Park, I had a meeting at our “mother” hospital downtown. This happened to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. If you have ever been to Philadelphia, you will realize that this hospital is right downtown. Meetings at the “mother hospital” were rare, but as I was an intake coordinator for patients that needed long-term care at our facility, I needed to go and make a visit to see if we could accommodate their needs. All of our patients were children. Sick children. Very, very sick children, some of whom who had never spent a day outside the hospital in which they were born.
Anyway, I went to my meeting. As you can imagine, driving in Philadelphia can be hazardous! Those that live there, and know the roads, buzz around those that don’t, weaving in and out of traffic at higher than normal rates of speed.
With my meeting being over at the end of the day, I decided to head home rather than go back to our small rehab hospital in Fairmount Park. Now, one has to know what year this was to put some context to it. This was 1989, or early 1990. There were no cell phones with GPS to talk one’s way through a maze of one way streets, and road blocks due to accidents or construction. You either knew your way or had a map! I thought I knew my way back to Delaware, where we were living at the time.
I was commuting 1.5 hours one way, from Newark Delaware, to Fairmount Park every day. It quickly became a grind, as you can imagine. But, being in downtown Philly, I had to get on an expressway alternative to Route 1, where most of my daily travels occurred.
As I approached the on-ramp for this alternative, but major, expressway (the number escapes me now), I saw that it had been blocked off due to a traffic accident. So, I had to continue on, at a fairly rapid and continuous speed. Looking for alternatives, but seeing none, I aimed my care across a bridge. This wasn’t any bridge! This was the Ben Franklin Bridge that connects downtown Philadelphia to Camden, New Jersey! Over the bridge, I went!
Shoot! Immediately, I realized I was headed to Jersey and had no idea how to get from there to Delaware! Luckily, I knew my geography well enough that I knew I had to look for and cross another bridge to get back to, what was then, my home state.
That day, after my meeting in Philadelphia, it took me three hours to get home! It was dark by the time I arrived. My husband, whom I had no way to contact, aside from using a pay phone, was frantic by the time I arrived.
“Where have you been,” he asked?
“I had to go to Jersey to get home,” I replied!
It’s been a fond and funny story all these years! And, today, I repeated it in part!
This morning I had an early morning presentation at an organization that was hosting us to speak to another organization’s leadership program members. (I know that is as clear as mud, but basically, I went to introduce a speaker from our organization.
I left feeling good and knowing I had truly participated in outreach and could now define it from this experience. But, as I left, I turned onto the on-ramp of the Interstate 90 which took me away from where I really wanted to go – downtown. Instead, I found myself headed to Minnesota!
Ugh! Well, it really was okay. I just crossed one bridge going over the Mississippi River and then crossed another coming back into Wisconsin, just shy of where I worked. It reality, taking the wrong on-ramp, had not taken me out-of-the-way!
But, the experience reminded me of my three state experience of my working past, when I travelled from Pennsylvania, to New Jersey, and back to Delaware to get home. Today, I went from Wisconsin to Minnesota to Wisconsin to get to work. It brought a smile to my face knowing I had done it again!