It wasn’t too long ago that my husband, George, and I realized that we now belong in the category of the “elderly.” I think we came to that realization while sitting in a waiting room of one of our doctors’ offices.
In looking around, we saw that we were the easily the oldest persons in the room. Now that I no longer drive my car, he takes me to any and all of my appointments. Because we have different primary physicians and dentists, we find ourselves in a lot of different waiting rooms.
My life in waiting rooms began when it was my turn to take my parents to their appointments. That’s when I always felt sorry for the elderly, because I saw that so many were suffering through their later years.
As the years flew by, we now find ourselves spending time in the waiting rooms when we go for our appointments.
A recent trip to two of our different doctors, will not soon be forgotten. My appointment was a half-hour before his. So, when he dropped me off, he had plenty of time to get to his doctor’s office. I was finished and ready to go home by 11:30 a.m., but he didn’t get back to pick me up until 2:15 p.m. We had spent all that time in the different waiting rooms and saw each of our doctors for maybe 15 minutes. I survived the waiting better, because I had taken a book to read and found half of a Payday candy bar in my purse.
He, on the other hand, did not survive as well, because the sun was finally shining and he was missing a big chunk of time that he could be building fence at the farm.
My waiting time was a little different than usual because the waiting room was getting quieter and quieter, until I was the only one there. No phones rang. No new patients came in. I was waiting alone. It even seemed to get darker. Eventually, I heard a phone ring and finally someone came in and the lights seemed brighter as I realized that the lunch hour was over and they were starting up for the afternoon’s appointments.
I have met a variety of people in those waiting rooms. For instance, a woman who struck up a conversation with me and said that she had two brothers and four sisters. Once I told her I had the same, we found lots of similarities to talk about while we waited.
Another was early this week when I was the one waiting, and there were two little children in the waiting room, but no adult in the room. Years ago I could strike up a conversation with children, but not in this day and age. I know not to do so, because they have been instructed not to speak to strangers. I feel I have missed out on a lot of interesting conversations since that is the way it is now.
Another time I was asked by a nurse if one of the other patients could have my place in line, because if she didn’t get it, she would be late for work. Knowing how upsetting that can be, I gave her my spot. The nice part was when she came back past me later, I could read her lips as she said, “Thank you very much!”
The following words are from a sign I remember having seen on the wall in a waiting room a very long time ago: “If you are having to wait a long time, it is because I am giving the patient ahead of you the much needed care that I will give to you when it is your turn. Thank you.”
I have remembered those words many times when I have had to wait, and I hope you remember them, too.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.