"Clergy Parking Only."
So said the sign marking the space occupied by the 2010 BMW 650i convertible, which retails for around $84,000. While it's theoretically possible that the issue is just that I'm laboring in the wrong stratum of Christendom, prior experience suggests that this vehicle, photographed this morning at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Orange County, where I'd gone to visit a St. John's member after her surgery, belongs to someone who has been called to the vocation associated with the Hippocratic Oath instead of the Nicene Creed.
Saddleback is one of the few hospitals left in our region that provide parking for pastors. One day a couple of months ago, there was a Jaguar in our rank. I visited my patient and then set a stakeout from atop a grassy knoll overlooking the parking lot.
After maybe five minutes, a man came along and walked up to the car. (You may well be wondering how long I would've been willing to wait.) Relying on gifts of discernment that have been carefully honed through years of spiritual discipline, I identified him as a physician. It had something to do with the white coat and stethoscope.
I pounced. Like a Jaguar. Like the Spanish Inquisition.
"Excuse me," I said, "but are you a member of the clergy?"
He saw my collar and knew he was busted. I don't think I'd ever gotten the better of a doctor before. "Sorry," he said. "I had an emergency."
"Me, too," I said. "I won't park in your space if you don't park in mine."
I will cop to a technical violation of Luke 14:8 (the bit about expecting to occupy places of honor). Mea nissan maxima culpa.