AS CLOSE AS BROTHERS — COULD IT BE?

Did you ever have one of those situations in your life when you thought it was a rare coincidence of meeting someone from your home town while on a vacation cruise several thousand miles from your home or wearing the same outfit as an other guest at a gathering such as a wedding? It’s a one hundred to one shot or even more. Maybe a million to one. Some times the odds are even greater.

I had one of these experiences twelve years ago. I would say the chances of what happened to me were well over one hundred million to one. Really.

I live in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Hilton Head is located between Charleston on the north and Savannah on the south but closer to Savannah. It’s a pretty island known for being a haven for recreation, golf, tourism and retirement. Most people who know of the island consider it to be kind of snooty or upscale. I think it’s a nice place to live except for the lack of certain ammedities such good restaurants, well lit streets, dependable internet, and accessibility to ready and capable medical care.

Prompt and efficient medical care is almost non existent in the area. There are plenty of doctors around but it seems that most don’t put in full days of service nor are they open more than four days a week. The waiting time for an appointment is usually several weeks out. In addition, if you are lucky enough to get an appointment the waiting time in the waiting room is unbearable sometimes hours. God for bid you require immediate attention. You could die there.

Hilton Head Hospital is truly a thing of beauty. It is well equipped and extremely modern. Problem is it is very understaffed and until recently not certified to do even moderate heart surgery procedures. If you had a heart problem that required even a simple by pass you were medivaced to Charteston or driven by ambulance to Savannah. That is if you were still alive.

The point is there was a real problem in Hilton Head when it came to medical care. If one was a resident and gave it some thought they would become somewhat frightened and desperate with this state of affairs. I know I became anxious so I became proactive.

One of my golfing buddies is a prominent pediatrician in Hilton Head and one day while on the course I expressed my concerns regarding available health care. He looked at me and said “ go to Savannah “. When I arrived home I immediately got on the internet and contacted Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Savannah and requested a roster of all doctors associated with them. After about an hour I received a directory by email. Here I had in my possession the golden list of doctors.

I scrolled through the list and for some reason I stopped at Dr. Stephen Herman. I immediately called his office hoping I could make an appointment to interview him. The call was promptly answered. “Hello Dr. Herman’s office. May I help you?” Yes, I’m Mr. Rodkin from Hilton Head and I would like to make an appointment with Dr. Herman as soon as possible. Are you taking new patients? The response was “yes we are, is this an emergency?” I replied no ma’am, I’m looking for a new doctor and I’d like to interview Dr. Herman. I was given an appointment for the next day and asked to bring my Medicare and supplemental card as well as my medical records. I knew then I was on the right track.

That evening I put everything requested in a folder in preparation for next day’s appointment.

Here comes the best part and the reason for the story.

I arrived at the doctors office a little ahead of schedule and entered the reception area and asked to sign in and to have a seat in the waiting room. The waiting room was small and a little dingy with new carpet and pale fading greens paint on the walls. On the walls there were several pictures of New York, Four or five of West Point, copies of old New Yorker magazine covers and a number of the bridges leading in and out of the city along with a large picture of the Brooklyn Bridge. Hmm, the guy must be from New York, so am I something in common.

My name was called and I immediately went to the reception desk which consisted of a glass sliding window and elevated counter top with a middle age woman behind the glass. In the rear of the office, about ten feet or so there was a man standing in the corner dressed in a white knee length smock. He was of medium height, had dark curly hair and an uncared for mustache. He seemed to be leaning against the wall. Kind of looked pretty old to me and a little like Graicho Marx. The receptionist gave me a few forms to filled out that required my signature.

When I was finished she said “ Steve, this is Mr Rodkin from Hilton Head here to see you”. The man in the corner brightened up and the receptionist asked me to go through the door on the right and go the room immediately across the hall. In a minute or two Dr Steve entered the room, shook my hand, introduced himself, and asked me to sit down.

The interview began with lots of small talk. He asked me a few questions and I asked him a few back especially about the pictures in his waiting room.

He told me he was a New Yorker and had graduated from West Point after Viet Nam. Then he went on to become a doctor. At that point he asked for my folder and started to finger through it. I asked him if I could help him look for anything in particular. He just kept going through my papers. Finally he stopped and stared at me and said “you know we were born on the same day” then he Said “the same year”. I asked him if he was born in New York. His reply was “yes”. I asked him what part? He replied Brooklyn” Then I asked what hospital was he born in? His reply Maimnadies. I couldn’t believe my ears. I said that’s the same hospital I was born in. My first roommate. We just starred at each other and Steve said “if it weren’t for your hair I would have recognized you”. We both jumped up and hugged each other laughing all the way. NOW, WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF THAT? We were both sixty six, in Savannah, Georgia, being born the SAME DAY, the SAME YEAR, and the SAME HOSPITAL in Brooklyn, New York. Not one in a hundred million. What had brought us together?

Today we see each other fairly often. We alway try to get together on our birthday or close to it. At our first birthday party I presented Steve with a pewter rail road engine baby toy. We enjoy political banter and discussing business and family. We’ve become close and caring buddies. Actually like brothers.

Other than finding each other Steve gets floor covering from me at cost. I own a flooring business and I never have to wait for a doctors appointment. I get right in. How convenient. What a bonus after all these years.

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Warren Rodkin

I have been around for a very long time and have had a number of experiences. I have many stories to tell and a lot to say. I am delighted to have a platform.