Waiting rooms, a great source of material to write about

Watching the doors that lead to the consulting rooms is about as exciting as watching pigeons standing on a window ledge.

But

When you have little else to do while waiting to see the doctor, it can take on new meaning, especially if you don’t want to be like 95% of the others waiting and be on their mobile phones.

What you basically have is a cross-section of people right in front of you, a virtual cornucopia of characters just waiting to stay in your next novel, of course with some minor adjustments.  It’s the actions and traits I’m looking for, and since it is a hospital, there’s bound to be some good ones.

It’s a steady drip of patients getting called, and it seems like more are arriving than being seen, and those that are being called have arrived and barely got to sit down, whilst a steady core has been waiting, and waiting, and waiting…

Everyone reacts differently to waiting.

A lady arrives, walking tentatively into the waiting area.  It’s reasonably full so the first thing she does is look for a spot where she doesn’t have to sit next to anyone else.  I’m the same, nothing worse if you sit next to a talker, and getting their life history.

Another sits, looking like they’re going to read, they brought a book with them, but it sits on her lap.  The phone comes out, a quick scan, then it remains in hand.  Is she expecting a call or text wishing her luck?  It’s not the oncology clinic so she doesn’t have cancer.  Hopefully.  The fact she brought a book tells me she’s been here before and knows a 9:00 appointment is rarely on time.

As we are discovering.

A couple arrives, maybe a mother and daughter, maybe a patient and her support person.  Both of them don’t look very well do it’s a toss-up who is there to see the doctor.

Next is a man who could easily pass as living on the street.  It’s probably an injustice to say so, but his appearance is compelling, and I’m not the only one.  He sits and the person next to him gets up, apparently looking for something, then moves subtly to another seat.  Someone else nearby wrinkles her nose.  Two others look in his direction and then whisper to each other.  No guesses what the subject is.

More arrive, fewer seats, some are called, but everyone notices, and avoids, the man.

The sign of the door where the stream of patients are going, says no entry staff only, and periodically a staff member comes striding out purposely, or sedately, clutching a piece of all important paper, the sign of someone who knows where they’re going, on an important mission.  Names are being called from this door and various other sections of the room, requiring you to keep one ear open.

It seems all hospitals are branches of the United Nations, medical staff, and particularly doctors, are recruited from all over the world, and it seems to be able to speak understandable English is not one of the mandatory requirements, and sometimes the person calling out the name, has a little difficulty with the pronunciation.

Perhaps like the UN, we need interpreters.  No, most of the names are recognizable until there is a foreign name that’s unpronounceable, or a person with English as a second language calls an English name.  It makes what could be an interminable wait into something more interesting.

And then there are the people who have names that are completely at odds with their nationality.  They are lucky enough to have the best of a number of cultures, and perhaps a deeper level of understanding where others do not.  I’m reminded never to judge a book by it’s cover.

When there is a lull in arrivals and call-ups, there’s the doctor in consult room 2.  He’s apparently the doctor with no patients and periodically he comes out to look in his pigeonhole, or just look over the patients waiting, and more importantly checking the door handle when not delivering printouts to the consulting room next door.

He’s a doctor with no patients, get my drift.  Well, that joke fell very flat, so, fortunately, he comes out, a piece of paper in hand, and calls a name.  His quiet period is over.  Someone else will have to look at the door handle.

But we’re still waiting, waiting.

It’s been an hour and four minutes, and a little frustrating.  Surely when you check-in they should give you an estimated waiting time, or better still how many patients there are before you.

I guess its time to join the rest and pick up the mobile phone.

The good news, I only got to type one word before my name was called.  By a person who could pronounce it correctly.

The doctor, well that’s another story.

2 thoughts on “Waiting rooms, a great source of material to write about

  1. “Everyone reacts differently to waiting.” This is so true, and people watching is always strangely satisfying for writers. I do this everywhere, especially airports and restaurants, but there’s just something about waiting rooms. You never know if someone is dealing with a serious issue or if it’s merely a checkup. So much to dissect!

    Liked by 1 person

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