Norman Knight: The waiting game

Sitting in a waiting room gets boring really fast.

I look around the room at the many people joining me in the Big Wait and they all are looking at their devices. Hey, it’s something to do especially since medical offices don’t seem to provide out-of-date magazines anymore. I wonder if severe magazine-less-ness in such facilities is a result of COVID. Ah, why try to fight it? I pull mine out of my pocket and start scrolling.

Becky is with me and we had talked some at first, but the chairs are arranged close together, practically touching, which puts all of us who are waiting right on top of each other. I don’t feel comfortable discussing personal matters within a stranger’s earshot so I don’t say much. Becky must feel the same because she already has her phone in hand. After that, we don’t talk, and it is back to silence except for the drone of the TV babble for anyone who cares to look away from their devices.

The office must be running behind because the other screen on the wall which displays the first few letters of each patient’s name followed by their appointment time is off schedule by at least 20 minutes. Oh, well. I shift my mind into “This Too Shall Pass” mode, tilt my head down and check my email.

I resist the clickbait ad, “Boomer Skills Millennials Just Won’t Use,” and proceed to skim through my email. Delete, delete, delete. Eventually, I click on “The Morning”, a New York Times link that advises me of the various vaccinations I really should consider getting some time this fall: an injection for RSV, a flu shot, and the newest updated COVID jab which should be approved by the Feds by mid-September.

The article tells me these are “especially important for vulnerable people like the elderly and immunocompromised,” and once more I am reminded that I am getting up there in years. In fact, the reason I am in this waiting room is to satisfy a requirement of my Medicare Annual Wellness Visit — I need to get my blood drawn and tested.

Suddenly the silence of the room is broken by the music of a ringing phone. A guy who was sitting in a nook in the corner when we walked in answers it and proceeds to talk to someone on the other end. We all can hear the conversation because he is on speakerphone. The person on the other end is passing along information to Longterm Guy about some plans for this weekend’s Labor Day celebration. Apparently, some of the people at the party are musicians because a banjo is mentioned. It sounds like a rollicking good time. Becky wonders if we are invited. At some point, the Longterm Guy decides to stop sharing his conversation because the room is now quiet by half with only his solo voice. Soon after that the conversation ends and silence returns.

Several minutes later we are startled to hear music. When I look around for the source of the sounds, I notice the woman sitting right next to Becky has her phone in her lap. I can see and hear a music video playing. The woman is startled too, and a bit befuddled, I guess, because it takes her several measures to realize that the sound is coming from her device. She manages to silence it.

“Maybe waiting around waiting rooms is why cell phones were invented.” I was thinking this thought when the door to the Inner Sanctum opens. “Norman” a woman in scrubs calls out. It is my turn, my partial name is at the top of the list. So I stand up, stick my phone in my pocket and walk toward the door to get my blood drawn.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected].