(Write a story about two strangers chatting while waiting for something.)
Lydia sits in her car waiting for her cell to ring! It is the newest way to get medical attention. First you make an appointment from home or work. When you arrive at the medical facility, you are met by a person in the parking lot who acknowledges your arrival at the facility and gives you a number to call based on who you are seeing. So you park your car and dial the number.
“Hello, this is Lydia Parker and I have an appointment with Dr. Jones!” Yes you verify your personal data and you are checked in and told to wait for a call back.
This is how you check in. Now you wait in your car for a call back from inside the clinic, giving you permission to enter the facility. At the lobby, you are met with yet another person who checks you for temperature and interviews you about travel habits and exposure! This is the NEW way.
Lydia fiddles with the radio knobs looking for a music station, she skips by news broadcasts and talking heads of all persuasions as she is sick and tired of the perpetually slanted and inflammatory view points. The radio waves are full of virus news. She doesn’t need something else to be nervous about just now. She is nervous about this visit, test results and opinions, prognosis and the way forward, treatment or protocol.
Checking her email for the tenth time, not really expecting anything but she is feeling stressed out. She scans through the social media sites she monitors and then goes back to the radio buttons...seek and scan….nothing!
She takes out a small notebook and tries going over a short grocery list. This is so annoying, she is nervous and wishes things would begin, waiting like this is no fun at all.
Lydia closes her eyes and lays her head back against the headrest. She is remembering past visits to this clinic. The waits seemed longer but they were mostly pleasant, in one respect at least, she had had many pleasant conversations.
One morning a few months ago she remembered talking with a gentleman as he sat smiling at his phone as he flipped through photos of a young girl.
She asked, “Your granddaughter?” And he quickly said yes as he moved over a seat to show her more.
“She is at a lovely age,”. She said, “I have one near that age too, but most of her photos are on my computer.”
On another visit, Lydia had a pleasant conversation about gardening with a middle age fellow who had a passion for Daylilies! They talked and talked. He had 23 different varieties. He enjoyed his garden and thinking back, Lydia can still visualize his excitement.
Conversations, even with strangers, or maybe because they were strangers were mostly always pleasant. Sharing just the facts you wished to share or were comfortable with sharing. These conversations took the medical concern, the reason you were there, away for a few minutes. They let you peek into another’s life and see slivers of happiness mostly. Sometimes you encountered a complainer whose constant worry over this or that had made them a bit sour on the whole world but mostly you found pleasant folks.
Getting tired of waiting, Lydia stares at her phone…”Ring for heaven sake!”
Smiling again now, Lydia remembers how surprised a fellow had been that she knew about airplanes. Sitting there in the waiting room she had noticed he was flipping through an aviation magazine and she just asked in an off handed way, “Do you fly?” And the next ten minutes were filled with information and anecdotal accounts of past adventures. He had been so nervous flipping through the pages but now he was bright and cheerful and forgotten for a short time was the concern that brought him here. Lydia herself didn’t not pilot planes but her husband was a pilot and they have owned several so she had absorbed many stories and facts. It was nice! Shared enthusiasm about something is always special.
Lydia must go every three weeks for testing so she has been involved in many conversations .
“I love your shoes!” “Are they comfortable?” And the ice is broken and another 15/minute friendly conversation, about the mall or favorite shops has begun.
“Just look at that rain,” “I hope you don’t go home by way of Lake Street, it always floods under the viaduct there.” “But the gardens and lawns need a bit of rain”
Pushing her hair back from her face for the hundredth time, Lydia remembers a lady commenting, “If this virus hangs around much longer, I will take to trying to cut my own hair.” “I see yours is bothering you too.” And so it went, a brief passage of time, conversing while we waited.
“I see you’re a Green Bay Packer fan!” Many endless conversations on this topic.
“Are you excited about the holidays?” This opener could go many directions.
“Are you making a big turkey?” Or “Have you put up your tree yet?” “I can’t believe it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet and the stores are full of Christmas decorations!”
A smile, a comment, a moment in time when we are joined by waiting. I am a natural people watcher and my mind is always generating scenarios to go with a persons looks or attire. But beyond looking, chatting is ever so much better.
Just words in common, conversations that bind us together. Even if we are at a clinic for different reasons, we all wish we were somewhere else doing something else.
My husband hates it, he perceives it as an invasion of his privacy and so he tries to sit away from others, but he is a curmudgeon, I, luckily am not!
And suddenly Lydia’s phone rings. The clinic…”.we are ready for you now!”
Going in, another check and hand sanitizer at the door !
The “the traditional waiting room” sits empty!
There is no lingering conversation or muffled cough or bits of a giggle!
Just empty silence!
A nurse waits for you and in you go, directly into an exam room.
It is the new way!