The whereabouts of carpark E

When I left the trailer where the big machine was, I had no idea where I was. I’d been inside a metal tube for forty minutes. I asked the nice woman how to get back to the carpark, and she just directed me back to the waiting area. Which wasn’t helpful, really. From there, I retraced my steps as far as I could remember – not very far, as it turned out. After five minutes, I was back in the main entrance – not where I’d come in from at all. I stood there, looking at a fire escape map on the wall. After five minutes of squinting, I realised that there were no carparks displayed, and so – utterly lost – I had no idea what to do other than strike out down a corridor and hope. Mercifully, hidden behind a glass screen, there was a sweet, grey-haired old woman guarding a desk which said ‘enquiries’.
“Hello!”
“Hello?” she asked, either indicating geriatric helpfulness or shock. She had Mrs Slocombe hair and glasses restrained around her neck on a little chain, presumably so no-one could nick them when she wasn’t looking.
“I’m sorry, but I have no idea where I am. I’ve got no sense of direction. I’m trying to find carpark E.”
She looked at me as if one of us must have escaped from the Alzheimer’s ward but she couldn’t work out which of us it was.
“I’ve walked through a blue section where everything was painted blue, and an orange section, where – you know – orange, in order to find the yellow section which is where Physio is. So – I’m guessing that it’s somewhere past the blue section? The carpark, I mean. The colours aren’t marked on the map, though, the fire escape one,” (I waved at the wall for assistance), “and so I’m a bit lost.”
“Oh.” There was a lengthy pause. “Sorry. Where is it you’re trying to get to?”
“Carpark E.”
“Oh. I’ve never heard of it.” She looked sad, and a little helpless. “Which road did you come in on? The main one?”
“I have no idea – it was… er… ” The realisation that I was about to describe the road I came in on as made out of tarmac and having cars on it made me stumble a little.
“Was it this one?” She waved, this time, vaguely to her right. “Or this one?” She waved to her left.
“Er. Gosh. I don’t know. I’m a stranger here.” (Oh, God. Did I really say that? I must have sounded like an over-polite Englishman from a really bad western.) Her tone became firm, as if she was talking to a four year old who was being deliberately awkward.
“Have you come from Nantwich or Middlewich?”
“Middlewich!” Finally! We had some common ground.
“Well, that would be the main road. So you’ll have parked by Accident and Emergency. What you need to do, is go straight up that corridor – ” she pointed to a wall covered with notices, ” – turn right, and keep on walking right to the end.”
“That corridor?” I said, pointing to the same wall. She nodded. “This one here?” I repeated, indicating the notices explaining what Osgood Shlatter’s disease is. “This one?”
“Walk to the end, turn right, Accident and Emergency.” She said it with such conviction, that I ended up walking over to the wall, almost expecting it to open up in some sort of Labyrinth (the film) kind of way. I looked back to the woman. She was still smiling. So, I turned right, and carried on walking: it led, almost immediately, actually, to the Fracture Clinic. When I was sure that she could no longer see me, I called her a ‘stupid, daft, old bint’ a little louder than I had intended to, and got tutted at by a nurse.
I ended up taking the first door to the outside that I could find, determined just to walk round the place until I found the bloody carpark – which, knowing my luck, would be on the other side of the entire site. I walked past carparks A, B, C, D, F, and G. Then, the pavement left the hospital, and carried on up – what I assume was – the main road. I passed A&E. There were ambulances. Then the pavement gave out altogether, and became mud. There was much swearing. But – so long as I kept the hospital on my right, I’d have to find my fucking car eventually. The hospital vanished and became what looked like houses. There was a pub. The muddy verge turned into a hedge – and so I ended up walking up a really very busy road, inches away from massive trucks doing sixty, and with a face like thunder. My car wasn’t on the other side of the site – it was actually quite a bit further round. If I’d turned the other way, I’d’ve got to it much more quickly.
Forty minutes in the metal tube: about an hour trying to find my car again.

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