This journey is quite an education. This is taking several forms. There is the medical education. There is the treatment education. There is the waiting education.
Included in the third one – the waiting education – is the experiences that we’ve had in waiting rooms.
Let me just say, that prior to May I would have given our society the benefit of the doubt on manners, making the assumption that most of us experienced some form of upbringing that instilled at least a modicum of manners in us.
This assumption has been proved wrong over the past few months as we’ve had plenty of opportunity to people watch in doctor’s offices, treatment waiting rooms, treatment rooms themselves and hospital processing offices. These are places where most in the waiting room don’t feel well. The last thing you want to be forced to tolerate is an irritating, rude and inconsiderate person.
But that seems to be what we are. We are really a rude and unrefined sort. Those of us who believe in being considerate of others and practicing good hygiene are anomalies.
I’ve heard patients talk down to the nurses treating them, tell them how to do their jobs and insult their intelligence as they walk away. These folks have more patience than I.
I’ve waited for an appointment with a man sitting less than 2 feet from me who continuously coughed wet coughs and hocked up what he couldn’t cough up. Between coughing spells, he yawned and exhaled loudly with his mouth as wide open as possible (I think). As I was called to my appointment, he was falling asleep.
I’ve waited with people who have no shame about their appearance, wearing was amounts to pajamas out in public. And then there are the ones who have no shame about their body noises. That needs no description.
I’ve sat in the midst of three or four people also waiting for their appointments who talked and laughed loudly. You couldn’t hear the television over the cackles of the women. I made eye contact with the front desk folks who indicated with their expressions that they were just as put off by the behavior as I was.
I’ve been seated near people with cell phones and mobile devices who must not know how to silence them and have sounds set for everything that happens – including every letter and number they tap. One gentleman’s “sound” was something similar to the sound a suction cup makes. At first I didn’t know where the noise was coming from. In the few seconds it took for me to identify the source, it became as irritating as nails on a chalkboard.
In another waiting room a woman had a fine case of self-importance. She was so important that she had to talk to one person or another on her phone continuously. Unfortunately she didn’t feel that her conversations required privacy. Judging from her volume, she must have been competing with a crying baby. She talked on the phone when she checked in with the front desk, never missing a beat as the person asked her questions. She took on an attitude when the person expected answers from her. She remained on the phone when the nurse called her back for her appointment. I wish I knew if the doctor had to ask her to hang up.
And then there is public restroom etiquette. Who forgot to teach half the population what it means to flush a toilet or leave the mess they make for the next person. It’s really disgusting.
I never thought I was so unusual. I have always considered that I had a pretty typical upbringing. Apparently I’m wrong. At least wrong about the sampling of our population that frequent even our finest medical establishments.
I suppose I should have patience and just say “Bless ’em.” I have a harder time with it than that. I obviously feel the need to vent.