Waiting, well waiting patiently, is becoming a lost art. For example, gas stations used to have two pumps. Regular and super and if you had to wait in line it was like a get together. Chatting with other motorists, waiting for your turn. Now gas stations have 8, 10 or more pumps so we don’t have to wait. While shopping, just one check-out stand in a store was the norm. Now if there are less than twenty, well some will shudder to think of it. No, waiting patiently has for the most part gone the way of churning your own butter, waiting at the mailbox for a letter from your loved one, even overnight laxatives have been zooped up to give results in two hours for goodness sakes!
I have spent many, many hours in hospital waiting rooms, waiting for doctors to come out and tell me of their accomplishments. Let me share with you about an encounter in a hospital waiting area. Yes area, as there are no longer waiting rooms, quite where one could wait in peace. Now there are areas where foot traffic goes by constantly, big areas where whispers become echoes. But again I have side stepped…
I revel in sitting quietly. I read, and maybe doze off while waiting. Hurry up and wait is normal in hospital settings. Hurry to get the patient to the hospital early, like 5 a.m. early, before coffee early! After you get there you get to wait to be called to the holding area, also known as waiting area number one! After the patient is handed off to the surgical team then the wait begins again in waiting area number two. Time to reflect, kind of rest up for the recovery period. Actually the time turns into people watching and over hearing all the gruesome details of Aunt Ida’s seeping sores. Ah the waiting area. I realize the old saying “leave your modesty outside when you enter a hospital” is universal, but remember it only applies to the patient and their care givers!
I usually choose the lovely, hard, low to the floor and nearly impossible to get up from, germ infested seat farthest from the information desk to wait. It starts out as though I am alone, in my own little world, but for some unexplained reason it begins to be the place for people to congregate. Really! As soon as I am all set up with my coffee, book and folded jacked for a pillow here comes a family. There are plenty of places to sit but I must be sitting under the “sit here” sign because my space is soon full of crunching cookies, wipes for sticky hands and runny noses, cell phone conversations, stories of, again, Aunt Ida. So I move. And I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if the same family, after all have made a trip to the bathroom where washing of hands is apparently not a requirement, hasn’t migrated to the new area I have tried to make my hide away. So I move again, back to my original landing hoping against all hope that Aunt Ida will soon be in the recovery room and the family will be ushered back to waiting area number three and I will be left to wait in peace.
But nope here they come, now all carrying new sacks of chips and bottles of soda gleamed from the nearby vending machines. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that they were there to support poor Aunt Ida. After my third move, and theirs, I was ever so grateful when their doctor came out, sat right next to me, (nearly on my lap because the number of family members had grown to a staggering amount over the hour and a half of waiting) to report to us all the Aunt Ida was fine and would be able be taken home in just a few short hours. A few short hours? Ugh. He even looked at me when he was discussing Aunt Ida, like I had become part of the family. I just got up and moved, again. As I was traipsing away I heard it. It was the unmistakable chatter of; I’m not taking her, you take her. Well I have a million things to do, I can’t take her you take her… Yes family is grand.
Gone are the days of the chain smoking, floor pacing, sweating, nervous father-to-be in the waiting room. He is with the family, in the family delivery room watching the big event. And that’s fine by me, at least that family isn’t waiting in my area.
Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle. Share your thoughts and comments with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.