For different tests I need to travel to different parts of the hospital.
Mario (not of game boy fame)from Italy is my first driver and he leads me to what look likes an open cattle car with a metal floor, drawbridge and burgundy red metal bars.
“Like Reine Elizabeth,” he says, and I start imitating the queen’s wave.
There’s a seat at the rear and Luis perches behind that to zoom me through the building’s bowels. Pipes wide enough to crawl through are on one side of the corridor, and walls painted both for children and with medical information in the style of Australian Aboriginal art is on the other. We pass other cattle cars and people in white coats riding bicycles.
We pass the delivery entrance and I peek into the commissary. It is larger than any grocery store I’ve seen.
The ride lasts seven minutes.
Olivier is my next driver. I ask his name and he is surprised.
“Transporters usually don’t have names,” he said. “That’s for doctors and nurses.”
“But you are human,” I tell him.
He gives me a smooth ride.
Luis is from Portugal when he brings me back to my room through the same warren of tunnels. He takes the cattle car from its parking space. Another driver is backing out a second cattle car.
“Do you want to drag?” he asks the driver. They are going in different directions.
We talk about the cost of gaining Swiss nationality.
I don’t take the cattle car to the operating theatre. Vincenze is my porter and he uses my bed. He’s from Sicily with rainy day gray eyes and lashes that women usually glue on. His black hair falls over one eye and curls over the collar of his hospital coat.
No woman heading for breast surgery should have such lascivious thoughts for a man a third of her age, but then again, maybe she should. George Clooney, you’ve been replaced.
He stays and chats with me until the anesthesiologist arrives. Before going he pats my arm and tells me not to worry. “You’re in good hands.”
I am and have been.