The waiting room waiting game
by Kelvin Wade
I recently switched doctors and this may seem like a small thing, but my old doctor had an awesome waiting room. The furniture was new, floor was polished wood and the art on the wall looked expensive. While waiting in there I half expected someone to come out and take my drink order. It was Feng shui, blinged out and badass.
My new doctor’s waiting room looks like it was designed either by someone with a dark sense of humor or by someone with an intricate knowledge of Soviet gulags. When I’m in that drab, stone-walled place I almost expect to see snow coming down outside the windows… if it had windows.
There are the pamphlets that you don’t want to read because they have titles like “13 Ways Your Heart Can Explode” and “Liver Failure: The Good News.” Of course there are the magazines. Popular Mechanics. The obligatory National Geographic. Time. All from 1984. I always like to leave a copy of my book so at least the next person will have a quality read while sitting in Lucifer’s lounge.
Then there are the children. They’re walking… scratch that… running Petri dishes with legs, loaded with germs. They touch everything and are incapable of whispering. Years ago, I had a doctor who had a toy box in his waiting room. Mistake. There are not quiet toys. Give kids cars and they’re Mario Andretti. Give them a dollhouse and they’re Godzilla.
While the kids race in circles, screaming and trailing mucus, I start blowing steam out of my ears. At some point, I usually make eye contact with the oblivious parent who usually shrugs their shoulders and smiles awkwardly like, “What am I gonna do?” That’s when I want to grab my balls and pantomime using scissors but I don’t. I want to say, “Try being less Monty Hall and more Gordon Ramsay,” but hey, I don’t want to be so presumptuous as to tell anyone how to control their monkeys.
On the wall in the corner is an old TV with a DVD player. I am amazed there’s a DVD player instead of VCR. From the environs, I really expected BetaMax. Inevitably, one of the drones that work there will pop in a Disney movie played at earsplitting volume. Because it’s on, and unbearably loud, people watch it mesmerized. I half expect a woman to come running up with a sledgehammer and toss it through the screen to wake everyone up.
If the TV isn’t on, the only alternative is the cell phone. Of course there are signs saying to turn your cell phone off, but we’re not masochists. You’re going to have to get a court order or a real big security guard to get people to relinquish the one thing they have to escape the mind-numbing, soul-crushing waiting room experience. I look around and see heads bowed with eyes locked on tiny screens. They’re either assaulting pigs with birds, playing Words with Friends or having words with friends. Anything to pass the time.
When the door opens and the Svetlana appears holding a folder, everyone perks up, hoping they’re going to be the lucky one. When the name is called, it’s like hearing someone yell BINGO in a bingo hall. It’s ecstasy for the winner but demoralizing for the rest.
But when my name is called, I feel like jumping up and racing to the door like my name has just been called by Rod Roddy and I’m the next contestant on The Prostate is Tight…uh…the Price is Right. As you head to the door you can feel the haters hatin’ you more with each step. I want to turn around and yell, “Keep hatin’ and marinatin’, bitches!” but I keep cool. I’m just happy to be called. It’s like being paroled.
You step through that golden back door, have your blood pressure and pulse checked and temperature taken, and then you’re stuffed in a broom closet by yourself to start the waiting game all over again.
Is someone coming to take my drink order at least?