Recently I read an article about people using the Ubber in lieu of an ambulance.   Instead of paying hundreds of dollars you get emergency transportation to the hospital for a fraction of the cost – which is great if you get there in time.   Today while I’m watching a Latino soccer game at Redwood High School I get a ping for a pickup at Marin General Hospital, and dash to my car and fire up the Brown Bronco.  

As I pass Lucky supermarket, just for good luck I call to find out where Julie is at the hospital.

“I’m at ER.” Julie says. Her voice is commanding … as if she is in great pain.  I soon learned why.

As I cruised up beside her at the Emergency entrance, I call out the window.  “Is it you?”


“What is it?”  I said as she climbed awkwardly into the back seat.

“Kidney stone.”  She announced stoically.   “I need to go to Rite Aid at the Town Shopping Center.”

“I can identify.”  I said.  “I went to the same ER two years ago with a kidney stone.  The pain was so intense, I drove myself there at 2 AM in the morning.”

Julie looks at me, but says nothing.  I can tell she’s in no mood to be cheered up.   We drive awhile in silence.

“How long have you had it?”  I asked.

“A month.”  she says.

“Oh God,”  I said.  “I had mine for two and a half months.  People told me the only worse pain is childbirth, but I wouldn’t know about that comparison.”

“This is worse than childbirth,”  Julie says.

“We drive back past Redwood High School and the soccer game has finished now.  Back down Doherty Drive towards the shopping center.  As we pull in, I say, “I’ll never forget.  I came to this same Rite Aid for a prescription for my Kidney Stone.   While I was waiting for it to be filled, I went out front and sat on the bench.  When I got up from sitting on the bench, my pants stuck.  I looked at the sign and realized I had just sat on Wet Paint.  It was one of those weeks for me.”

I looked in the rearview mirror and for the first time on the trip, Julie smiled. She got out of the car, and walked stiffly looking at that bench in front of Rite Aid, and called back to me.  “Thank you.”

I think she meant it.