I like to think of myself as a patient person. Someone who can wait when they have to wait, and not get too frustrated about it. It may take forever to get to the front of a line, especially considering when you join a line, you’re always the last person in it.
But my mindset has always been, by the time I go to sleep tonight and close my eyes, this will be over. I will have gotten to the front of the line and done what I had to do, whether it be write a driver’s test, or order a burger, fries, and two apple pies because McDonald’s makes excellent apple pies.
Alright, now that I’ve established myself as a patient person, let’s delve right into things. By the way, anyone else hungry? I want McDonald’s now. It’s 4AM. Don’t judge me!
Okay, the waiting room.
You know, the place where you have to sit and wait before being called in for an appointment. Yeah, that place. I’m not a big fan of waiting rooms.
You want to know why? Because the word “waiting” is an evil word. There may be famous quotes that preach patience, but there are also famous quotes that tell people to seize the day.
No one likes to wait. There are people, like me, who can wait and don’t mind waiting, but that doesn’t mean I like to.
What bugs me is when you make an appointment for a specific time, let’s say 1:30PM. Your doctor/dentist/eye doctor/haircut is booked for 1:30PM. They have your name and phone number written down in their schedule. 1:30PM is your time to shine. The rest of the world must step aside and let you through because gosh darn it, you have an appointment.
You get there a few minutes early because “if you’re not five minutes early, you’re five minutes late”, or something like that.
And then what does the person at the front desk tell you to do? They tell you to take a seat in the waiting room. Okay, I’m five minutes early, I’ll get called in in five minutes. Nope!
I’m sorry, my appointment was at 1:30PM. However, you booked me an appointment with the waiting room, not the doctor/dentist/hairdresser/pizza expert/etc.
I understand that doctors can fall behind. I understand they can be running late. Health is important, I get it. I’m not even mad that they’re making me wait an extra ten minutes before calling me in. I don’t mind waiting, my issue is the waiting room itself. The dullness of the waiting room. It drives me nuts.
There are politics to every waiting room. Rule number one is to never sit next to a stranger, unless there are no other seats available. You always have to give a one chair buffer zone. It’s like the urinal rule in men’s washrooms.
So then you have a bunch of strangers spread out. Each one doing their own thing to kill time. Reading magazines from six months ago. Pretending to read the newspaper. Texting on their phone. Looking up at the TV in the corner that is on mute, but has flashy images like a weather forecast, traffic on a highway, sports highlights, or commercials.
I know this sounds crazy. Like I said, I don’t mind waiting. I can wait for days. It’s just the place I have to wait, and the things that surround me, which I can’t stand.
The doctor’s office I went to when I was a kid always had little sick children running back and forth, coughing and sneezing, and touching all the toys in the place. It was loud and a cesspool for germs. I always just sat there and wished I could be anywhere else.
It was always close to a 90-minute wait at that doctor’s office. And then once you got in a room, you had to wait 15 more minutes, at least.
At the eye doctor, it was the same thing. A long 90-minute wait in the waiting room with nothing to stare at but beige walls and grownups with eye problems. I never saw any other kid in there. It was dead silent too, except for a radio that was only loud enough for the secretary to hear.
When I was 12, I tore a ligament in one of my fingers while playing basketball at school. It was swollen by the next day. My Mom insisted she take me to the hospital instead of school. I remember this day vividly.
This was back during the SARS epidemic. We got to the hospital and they treated us like we were infectious creatures. Of course, it was precautionary. We sat in robes, gloves, and face masks for about three hours before someone called me in. They sat us in a hallway, once again with plain beige walls staring back at me.
On the wall was a picture with the word “Saskatoon.” For you non-Canadians, Saskatoon is the capital of the province of Saskatchewan. I don’t live in Saskatchewan, so I found the picture to be out of place. Two provinces out of place, to be exact.
Staring at that word is the only thing that kept my Mom and I sane that day. Ever since that experience, every time one of us hears, or even sees the word “Saskatoon”, we tell the other. It’s pretty much mandatory. That one word explains an entire experience.
As you can see, I had some less than ideal waiting room situations as a kid. That’s probably the reason why I don’t like waiting rooms. I’ll sit in them, but the moment my name is called I am so happy to get out. It’s the same kind of happiness a 5-year-old has when a birthday cake with five candles is placed in front of them.
If I ever run a company that has a waiting room, I’m calling it something else.
Maybe I’ll call it the “Customer Appreciation Room”.
CAR, for short.