Monday, March 22, 2010

I’m waiting

Among the many totally unimportant, genuinely insignificant subjects upon which I consider myself to have some level of expertise is the subject of “waiting rooms”.

I’m not saying I’ve spent more time in waiting rooms than anyone else. I probably haven’t. I’m just an average Joe when it comes to my actual, personal waiting room experiences.

But I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more time actually studying on waiting rooms than most folks.

For instance, have you ever made a list of different types of waiting rooms? I have.

Before you go off saying, “Wow! Rod-Boy’s really gone over the edge this time!” let me try to explain.

As publisher of this little newspaper – and a few others – I noticed many years ago that a lot of folks seemed to report on items they had read while in such-and-such a waiting room. There was an abundance of newspaper-reading going on in waiting rooms, I realized. Indeed, it occurred to me that waiting rooms provide a unique block of time for many people to read… somewhat of a rarity in our modern-day, never-enough-time, busy, busy lifestyles.

Consequently, our little community newspaper made it a mission to make sure all local waiting rooms were stocked with a few copies each week, for the reading pleasure of the waitees. (It also didn’t hurt any that waiting-room newspaper readers very frequently seemed to come across advertisements of interest, to which they often responded, pleasing the local business-owner who had purchased the advertisement, and revving up the entire economic cycle which fuels the newspaper industry.)

Hence, I have become somewhat of a “waiting room” authority, even to the point of maintaining not one, but several different lists of waiting rooms: doctors offices, dentist offices, barber shops, beauty shops, karate lessons, dance lessons, oil change, car wash… about 30 frequent varieties of waiting rooms in all! And we try to keep them all stocked with your favorite little weekly community newspaper.

Along the way, I’ve made a few observations about waiting rooms. Some of these observations have come from careful study and analysis. And some of them have come from being stuck in waiting rooms for hours at a time.

-- As I age, I find myself spending a lot more time in waiting rooms of a medical variety, and a lot less time in hair cutting establishments. Go figure.

-- Here’s another thing I’ve noticed: When you see one of those signs that says “Ring Bell for Service”, don’t believe it. It’s been my experience that the lady behind the window usually gets a little irritated whenever anyone rings that bell.

-- While this week’s newspaper is generally the very best reading material you can hope to find in any waiting room, there are usually some other excellent reading choices as well: a collection of sports magazines from several years ago; a variety of promotional brochures; and a children’s puzzle book, usually with a number of missing pages.

-- I think sitting in a waiting room is a lot like standing in line at a ride in Disney World… except that, when you’re standing in line at Disney, you can easily tell how close you’re getting to your turn, because the line keeps moving and they post signs telling you how many minutes left in line… but in a waiting room, you don’t move closer, you just keep sitting in the same place, so if you want to find out how much longer, you have to go ask the lady behind the window “how much longer?” again, to which, ironically, she reacts exactly the same as if someone had rung the bell. Also, at the end of your wait, you get a blood sample or a haircut, instead of a ride on “Space Mountain.”

-- I have estimated that, at any given point in time, there is approximately
0.3156 % of the population currently in a waiting room. This has to be a drain on the economy, sapping 0.3156% of the Gross National Product each year. Given that there’s a captive audience/market in waiting rooms everyday, couldn’t we devise some sort of industry to take advantage of this untapped workforce? Maybe knitting sweaters? Cell phone telemarketing? Earn money addressing envelopes?

-- Various types of waiting rooms dictate different levels of socialization. Medical waiting rooms, for instance, are generally very private: not much interaction among the waitees… very little chatting, no hand-shaking at all, due to that whole “communicable disease” thing… and who wants to hear about somebody else’s aches and pains when you have your own? Karate class waitees, on the other hand, are very social… chatting away about their cute little karate kids. And hair cutteries… wow. The chatter never stops!

-- I think “waiting rooms” is a nice name for them. It sounds better than calling them “holding areas” or “containment zones”.

-- Fancy restaurants have the best waiting areas. They call them “bars”.

-- I miss the EZ listening that they used to always pipe into waiting rooms in the old days. Nowadays, if anything, there’s a TV on in the corner. And there is such a thing as too much Oprah.

-- I have more I could tell you about waiting rooms – lots more – but I gotta go now. They just called my name.

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