I spent nine hours in a surgical waiting room today and if that’s not a lesson in perspective, nothing is. A microcosm of American culture. Young, old, different races and ethnicities, rich, poor and everything in between. This waiting room had five TVs, each turned to a different network, as if to oblige each party. Me? I sat in a quiet corner and observed. That’s what I do. Along with my book, IPad, and knitting, but no need for TV with such interesting characters.
I understood the woman in her late 60’s who couldn’t figure out how to get her phone off of speaker mode. We all learned that she arrivd at 5:30 AM and was tired, but that’s ok, because Evelyn was coming soon. At least she tried to turn her speaker off. But the man who sat there and conducted his business for all to hear? No respect there.
A few seats away, an older man didn’t hear the waiting room-issued pager going off until another visitor alerted him. He was happy he could go back and see the missus. I was quite empathetic. That could be any of us in time.
Toddlers scampered from their mothers and grandmothers and maybe aunties, and I was mindful I’ve never had to be concerned about childcare. Yet hauling an active two year old around the hospital is a benefit to no one. I felt sorry for the children. And their mothers.
But what surprised me the most was discovering that hospital waiting rooms have now become popular locations for family reunions. Seriously. From the time I arrived in the waiting room this morning to the time I left, it was occupied by one large family (10-14 people) after another.
Now I get it, sort of. Dad has surgery, and mom is there with her adult children and their spouses and then the adult grandchildren start showing up with their children. But please, was it necessary to take over a couple of tables and set up their own buffet with food someone brought in from McDonald’s? (Unless they invited me of course.) At one point, I feared one family was ready to light the grill and start pouring their favorite adult beverages. Right amongst people who had not eaten since midnight.
I suppose it all goes back to the family’s culture as I have friends who come from these families and it would be the expectation that they all show up. But this is not how the Sievers roll, so I find it quite foreign.
It wasn’t until I walked outside, felt the sun on my face and filled my lungs from some fresh air that I felt better. And was grateful that I wasn’t the one having surgery. My patient did well and in a couple of days, will be home. And if that’s true for the others, that should be my only concern.