Mission Impossible?

By: Steven Elias, MD - AVF Newsletter Editor

A five foot two inch man exists your car. He is barely as tall as the height of your chin. How is it possible that he has just driven your car on one of the most difficult routes in the world: The Parking Garage Gambit. He has retrieved your car from the bowels of some “black hole”. Have you ever thought where does your car actually reside when you hand it over to someone in a NYC parking garage? Some subterranean abyss? Purgatory? Somewhere between Scylla and Charybdis? Or are they out cavorting on the West Side Highway or the East Village? It certainly takes a long time to get you car back. But the most curious thing is how does that 5’2” man drive your car with the seat position all the way back and the seat height as low as it can go. Ever get in your car after the parking lot attendant retrieves it and the seat position is nowhere near the one you use when you drive? There is no way that they can see above the dashboard. Are they navigating like bats using sono-echolocation? Speed is another issue. The German Autobahn has no speed limit, apparently parking garages have none as well. How do these short people do it?

Sometimes patients wonder how we do it. How do we take care of venous disease with minimal incisions and minimal discomfort? Mission Impossible? Maybe. Like how do these short guys drive your car safely and arrive unscathed? They make the impossible possible.

Bo Eklof has been making the impossible possible for his entire career. His article, one in our series in BNN about the evolution of venous careers, gives us a good primer as to what we all should aspire to be: once you get yourself settled in your own practice then your job is to teach others. Bo is what we all should become; the consummate educator and vein enthusiast.

The AVF presidency is for one year. In my opinion this is too short. It is hard to accomplish some things in only one year. The interview with John Blebea, the incoming AVF President, sheds light on where he came from, where he is and where he feels AVF should go. This is not going to be Mission Impossible, not for John.

Vein care has traditionally been East Coast centric. We all know that but Dan Monahan and the AVF are out to prove that there is a hotbed of vein care west of the Mississippi with the inaugural West Coast Vein Forum. Dan has garnered a faculty of mostly west coast people. I only wish that he had asked me to be part of this. This will be a great meeting. Go. Read the article.

The ultimate Mission Impossible which is now very possible thanks to Nick Morrison is getting modern healthcare to indigent people in Central and South America through Amigos de Salud. Please read this inspiring article by Nick. It is so unassuming and self- effacing that it makes one think, “Why can’t I be like that?” You can and at some point in our lives we all should be. The world would be a better place.

Many people from Central and South America migrate to NYC and some of them find jobs as parking lot attendants making an honest and hard working living. Some of them accomplish Mission Impossible. Some of them bringing my car to me on the rare occasion when I park in the subterranean bowels of some building.

So I tip the guy who just retrieved my car. Two dollars. Even I am taller than him and his co-workers. There are not too many people shorter than me. I sit down in the car seat. I can’t see the road. I can’t see anything but the bottom of the steering wheel. I can’t reach the gas or the brake. How did this guy drive the car? I get out of the car and confront him. He stares at me incredulously. I ask him to get in the car and show me how he reaches the gas, the brakes and the steering wheel. He can’t reach any of them. He can’t see a thing. He starts to laugh, the laugh of a man who has achieved the impossible; driving a car without touching the gas, the brake or the steering wheel. Then he reveals the secret of all parking lot attendants: how they do it. They do it to annoy people. They do it to laugh at us. They do it to tell all their co-workers how much fun they had that day. The secret: drive the car in the correct position but deliver the car in the worst position. The opposite of vein care. This is why it takes so long to get your car. This is why your seat position is absurd. This is why I try to find a parking space on the streets of New York. This is why I am not a parking lot attendant. It is the only profession that even I am too tall for. Mission Impossible?!

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