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Friday, April 30, 2010

The Waiting Room

I've been spending a lot of time in waiting rooms of late.

It's that time of year - Annual Physical Exam, which includes blood work, EKG, pap smear, mammography, etc., etc., etc.

This morning, I'm in the waiting room of my Volkswagen Dealership. Lucy True Bug is having her 10,0000 mile check up and service.

As I looked around, I'm struck by the similarities of waiting room decor. Really, I can't tell if I'm in the waiting room for lab work, a doctor's exam or an imaging center.

Where do they get these damn gray-blue chairs?

Even the magazines are the same: Time, Newsweek, New Yorker . . .

Each waiting room also has a TV, but the medical facilities tend to have the station tuned to CNN. Here at the VW Dealership, I was surprised to find Regis & Kathy chatting away on the big screen TV.

Rachel Ray is, presently, teaching us how to prepared Ribs - going deep into the controversy between dry rub or wet BBQ sauce.

There are two guys here in the waiting room with me. What's fascinating is that they are absolutely engrossed in Rachel. Really. Engrossed.

I'm the one surrounded by the NY Times, the Baltimore Sun, and the Washington Post when I'm not working on my lap top.

I know. Go figure.

There are no other women here right now, but my experience has been that women would find a way to strike up a conversation. We'd start with an idle comment about something happening on the TV or something that we're reading and then, off we'd go, in no time flat.

The men? Not so much. In fact, these two guys are sitting at opposite ends of the room. They are watching the same TV program. Both nodding or otherwise individually reacting to the program - but not with each other.

It's like watching toddlers in parallel play.

The thing of it is, I'm really awful at waiting. For anything. Patience has never been my best suit. My grandmother always said I had "ants in my pants". I just couldn't ever sit still and do nothing.

Perhaps that's because it's genetic. I never saw my Grandmother sit still - except, of course, when she was reading her Bible. Even then, she was multitasking. She would be moving 'round her rosary beads while she was reading.

And, rocking in her rocking chair. And, sipping her tea. While keeping an eye on the stove or oven.

In my grandmother's house, the waiting room was the little 'nook' off the kitchen where there was a small table and two chairs and, of course, her rocking chair by the window.

Mostly, we would wait there while the food was simmering on the stove or baking in the oven. Or, after all our work was done and we were waiting to serve the meal.

It wasn't about being bored to tears by the banality of daytime television as we obviously are here in this waiting room. Or, being anxious about what invasive, uncomfortable thing might be about to happen in a medical facility.

The waiting room in my grandmother's house was about catching your breath, taking a break, reorienting yourself before you moved on to the next task. And that was always associated with prayer.

There's waiting and then there's waiting and they are very, very different. I'm much better at my grandmother's kind of waiting than at car dealerships or medical facilities - but, if I'm honest, not by much.

Patience may be a virtue, but it's also a skill and an art form. I'm very practiced at it, but not very proficient.

I've been practicing imagining these same waiting rooms - like the one I'm in now - as the little nook off my grandmother's kitchen.

I'm imagining that I'm here to reorient, refresh, renew before moving on to my next task.

Suddenly, waiting doesn't seem quite so monotonous or tedious. I don't have a case of 'ants in my pants'.

I've not exactly discovered the secret of how to acquire patience, but I have suddenly found a little room for waiting in my life.

It doesn't look at all like where I am right now.

In fact, it's quite lovely. Indeed, it's probably the most unique waiting room ever.

That's because it looks an awful lot like my grandmother's waiting room.


Staying Awake in Missouri said...

The New Yorker in a waiting room? My God, I miss the East Coast. Waiting rooms in the Midwest have magazines about how to kill animals and mount them. How did I end up here?

Ashley said...

Along with the ubiquitous blue vinyl chairs, waiting rooms invariably have generic artwork on the walls. I've never understood why, though it is probably because it can't possibly be threatening or a source of anxiety (or interest!) to someone stuck in the room with a lot of time on their hands.

Muthah+ said...

Even the magazines are the same: Time, Newsweek, New Yorker . . .

I am with SAin MO.. even in upstate you get Sport's Illustrated, Women's World and Better Homes and Garden and the ubiquitous PEOPLE (blagh!)

NEVER pray for patience--you will always get plenty of opportunity to practice it!

Janet Detter Margul said...

I must be very lucky with my stable of doctors, each has fairly good art and each is very different from the others. My GP has what I'd call a focus on textures, with a large Celtic design paper molding and a large woven piece of what looks like hand-dyed fabric strips. The cardiologist has western art, one piece is a collection of different (and labeled) barbed-wire, and two Remington prints. What's surprising is that the originals for BOTH prints are in my hometown museum close to Bartlesville, Okla. The gastro-guy has abstract screen prints and my endocrinologist has watercolor landscapes, mostly featuring bluebonnets. Probably the most unique is the sports medicine group, I see the pain management specialist and occasionally the orthopedic guy. Each piece there includes an action photo and a jersey from a particular patient, the sports are varied. I recall Lance Armstrong (cycling), Steve Nash (basketball), Mike Modano (hockey) and Troy Aikman (football). Unfortunately, two of my stable also have the same blue-gray chairs. Hate them chairs!

Ashley said...

@Janet: are you talking about Gilcrease Museum? (I live in Tulsa).

Janet Detter Margul said...

Ashley! Small world, huh? Actually these two Remingtons are at Woolaroc. I'm just back from a week in Bartlesville.