waiting rooms come in all shapes and sizes but they share a common purpose that renders them all the same essentially. Waiting rooms are one of the few things today that are aptly and truthfully named, in other words a “waiting room” is exactly that – a room where you go to wait – a room whose sole purpose is for you and for me and for others to “wait” in it. That is its’ only function. So the lessons learned in one waiting room will serve you well in whatever particular waiting room you find yourself today– I don’t know about you but I feel like a lot of my life is lived “on hold” or in one or another of the many waiting rooms of life so to speak; so here are some of the lessons learned in the waiting room; perhaps you can relate:
The first is – always bring a good book or your current read because time (like a mind) is a terrible thing to waste and you never know how long the wait will be in any particular waiting room scenario
Next – always bring adequate snacks/ beverages because of the aforementioned reason; you never know how long you will be waiting in any given room designated solely for that purpose
Third, always leave plenty of margin in your schedule; again because of the fact that you can’t predict how long you will be held captive in the waiting room and knowing that you are expected to be somewhere else at a not too distant point in the future will make your experience in the waiting room a stressful one as you watch the minutes (hours?) tick away, all the while knowing that you are late for or are missing entirely your next appointment, engagement, scheduled activity or what have you
Fourth, bring work with you to do; including but not limited to bills, correspondence, answering emails, working remotely on your laptop etc.; this way you feel more productive and are less likely to feel like this time you are spending in the waiting room is wasted time
Fifth, catch up on your sleep (if you plan to implement this suggestion, you might want to bring a comfy pillow with you) but, be forewarned – you in no way want to “sleep” through your appointment by missing your name and/or number when it is finally called
This next lesson should be self-evident but in case it is not – under no circumstances make eye contact or otherwise engage with those around you. Anonymity is a cherished hallmark of the sacred waiting room space and must be preserved; as well as the fact that eye contact could lead to a prolonged discourse with a total stranger, holding you captive as they recount and regale you with tales you never asked to hear thereby violating the unwritten code of silence rule governing waiting room protocol
Or, in direct opposition to the previous lesson – make every effort to obtain eye contact or to otherwise engage with your fellow captives in the waiting room. Why? Because you can meet some really interesting people in waiting rooms, because conversation helps the time to pass more quickly by providing a welcome distraction and because as human beings we crave connection whether we admit to it or not. The success of this mission will depend directly upon whether there are other persons in the waiting room besides yourself who have not learned the previously mentioned lessons listed above and so are as bored as you are and desperate for any distraction to pass the time
Another lesson – loose the earbuds, listen and learn; waiting rooms can be full of interest and intrigue for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear
If all else fails, you can always make a list of all the things you’ll do when you are no longer “waiting” in this room but finally free
And above all, it is imperative that you hang on to hope, that you don’t give up and don’t give in to despair – continue to hold out hope that yours will be the next name or number called
Now, dear reader, there are also things you should not do – under NO circumstances should you–
feed the fish – they are there for atmosphere and entertainment purposes only, you don’t want to be responsible for killing these fish – no one wants that on their conscience. (popular wisdom has it that fish tanks create a soothing, relaxing atmosphere) because let’s face it, waiting rooms by definition are full of anxious, hurried people; people waiting to find out what’s wrong with their car, or their pet or themselves or a loved one, or with their taxes or well, what don’t we wait on? (I’ll get to that later on)
play your music loudly – this really needs no explanation, your musical tastes are probably not the same as those of the random stranger seated next to you; also you don’t want to make the people around you angry at the outset of your wait because you have no idea how much time you and your fellow waiting room hostages are going to be spending together
take up too much space – be cognizant of this, especially if you brought a pillow because your plan was to sleep away the wait
glare at others when they get called before you do; it’s not their fault
and lastly, under no circumstances should you ever give up hope of being called out; your time will come!
Now, waiting rooms vary widely, some are more comfortable than others –
sometimes your car is your chair in the waiting room that is the interstate highway, packed with vehicles sitting still, with no way out, no exits in sight; this waiting room lacks the usual amenities . . .
we wait for many different reasons, sometimes for happy purposes like waiting for our number to be called at the ice cream place or we stand in line for concert or sporting event tickets. I wonder if the wait seems shorter in those places than when waiting at the doctor’s office or at the BMV? (now there’s an all day experience!) Not everyplace has a room designated for waiting, but we wait nonetheless. Verizon, Apple, Comcast, the bank, the attorney’s, the Post Office, the veterinarian’s office, the emergency room, any government office, customer service anywhere, the line at the grocery, the drive-through line at any fast food place (here the car is again the waiting room) we pretty much go from one waiting room to another
I don’t want waiting to be synonymous with wasting time; I would like to think my time in life’s many waiting rooms is not wasted but well spent or at least that it is serving a purpose. This is difficult to believe because the term waiting itself implies that it is not the main event – but is the prelude to whatever it is that we are waiting for.
and it turns out we are all waiting for something; whether it’s food in the drive through or concert tickets or our car to be fixed or our problem to be solved; we are waiting for our moment to be seen and to be heard, for our turn to have our problems addressed and our concerns taken care of; we are waiting for our turn with the person who can make that happen, and for that, we wait and we wait willingly . . .
I feel like earth is God’s waiting room and training ground. Just like the waiting room, earth is not the main event, just the place where preparation for the main event, eternity, takes place. So I want to make the best use of my time in this waiting room, because there are lessons to be learned in the waiting room and I need to learn them so that I will be prepared and ready when my name is finally called.
In the meantime I wait and I walk by faith – I listen and I learn
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)
“Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7-8)
“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
sincerely, Grace Day
2 thoughts on “lessons learned in the waiting room”
I had to chuckle with the “don’t make eye contact” rule! Happy Advent…waiting for the birth of our Savior.
my computer was down for awhile so I read the Dec 9th post first and then this one. Waiting is certainly my least favorite way to spend time. I always take a book or newspaper so I can work the puzzles when I am waiting even if it is only 10 minutes. I occasionally nod off sand drop the book or paper which brings the attention of other waiters as they watch my reddened face and secretly think what a clux I am. The wait to meet my creator is the longest I’ve had to wait so far. I hope He doesn’t think I am a clux.