It's the rare architect who can do all their work within an easy commute of their office. I suppose if you do residential work in a large metropolitan area like Chicago or New York City, you can accomplish this. But because we do hospitals and healthcare at Design Associates, Inc., we have to go a lot farther to get work. After all, there are metric assloads of houses and condos to build and remodelin the Denver/Front Range region, but only so many hospitals and clinics. Furthermore, DA's business model allows us to make a good living off of smaller hospitals, which are really in the middle of nowhere--Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona, New Mexico, and the Dakotas. Getting to these places involve driving four hours or hopping in a 19-seater twin-prop puddle-jumper plane, or even multiple puddle-jumper planes. I got on one of those heading to Bieffee, MT for a visit to St. Ermahgerd before Christmas, and I swear I saw Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens sitting in the exit rows. Those fuckers always get the good legroom.
So, Howie calls me from the road last week, sounding groggy and slow. He was on his way to the contractor interviews/selection meeting for a 14-bed hospital project we were working on, and he was finally suffering from the funk that I had for most of January. "Pixie," he croaked, "I'm double booked for a meeting tomorrow. Can you go with the engineers and contractor to look at a surgery renovation at Wide Place Memorial Hospital in Wide Place, Nebraska tomorrow?"
Wow, tomorrow? Thanks for the warning.
Well, those are the wages of rural healthcare work. And they're the wages of my promotion. I'm now deemed able to be seen alone by civil society (i.e., present and potential clients) without having a partner standing next to me to point and say "the short chick in the Ann Taylor pantsuit and heels is good at this stuff, and you can talk to her just as well as you can us". So, off I went to a wide place in the road in Nebraska. (Which was a nice little facility with great staff, by the way. You don't do rural healthcare work and not give a huge damn about patient care. It's a labor of love, at the very least.)