People spend a tremendous time waiting and even have whole rooms dedicated to the pursuit of expectant nothingness. I, being a chronic people watcher, have noticed that this time waiting and particularly in waiting rooms differs greatly according to the venue. It struck me particularly last week when I was at the cardiologist's office even how different that office was from my normal doctor's. After a week of reflection, I offer up this ten peso version of the waiting room personalities in American culture.
The Primary Care Doctor: People sit quietly and as far apart as possible, most staring off into space or at the health TV show playing. I always get the sense that everyone is terrified of catching some one else's sniffles.
The Rheumatologist: Very quiet. I think this is where all the one-uppers congregate. They all sit close together silently sizing each other up and trying to figure out who is the greatest sufferer in the flesh at that day. This person is looked upon with a bit of reverence while anyone who looks young and able-bodied gets snooty looks from said one-uppers.
The Cardiologist: The opposite of the rheumatologist's! It is social hour; everyone knows everyone else and they spend the time talking about who is up to what and catching up on who's dear grandkids just graduated from school and about other beloved people in their lives. They even offer each other snacks they have brought along for the wait, all heart healthy, of course.
The OB/GYN: A room full of pregnant women who spend the time looking through their parenting magazines and non pregnant women who look like they would rather be anywhere else including the DMV. Usually a very busy waiting room because most women there have other kids back at home and so they are using their time to the fullest; the world class multitaskers. They read, pay bills, drink water, correct homework, write grocery lists, check email on iPhones and do anything but sit and stare. Any men brought along for the ride usually look acutely uncomfortable. But, if you need to know where the restroom is, odds are the five women in your vicinity who overheard your question will immediately point it out for you but you will probably have to wait in line.
The Otolaryngologist: Can be very quiet or loud depending on your point of view. Of course, if someone hard of hearing is speaking it will be loud but if you are there for a similar problem, you probably won't notice...
The Orthopedic Surgeon's: People here are friendly and most will admit to being accident prone. Just be careful with all the crutches lying about everywhere since it is a dangerous mix of self acknowledged klutzy people and tripping hazards.
The DMV: A mix of thoroughly confused looking adults and excited/aloof teens all trying to figure out which line they are supposed to be in and when M367 is going to be called to go take their new license picture. The people waiting for this service are easy to spot since they are the only ones who look hopeful and like they could be going out on the town as soon as they are done. People also miraculously drop about 15 pounds or more and grow a couple of inches when they are filling out their personal information that goes on their license. Usually the only happy people are those who are leaving.
The Spa: The happiest people you will ever see in a waiting room.
Children's Photographer: Children on sugar highs running around like little maniacs while tired and somewhat defeated mothers try to pick out photos of their precious munchkins smiling because they knew they would get candy. Mothers just arriving look stressed since they have just scrubbed every inch of their dirt attracting children and are trying to keep them keep them from wiggling too much and thus wrinkling the not at all permanent press clothes that are adorable but impractical for said monkeys.
The Dentist: Very stressed people (the only more stressed people are waiting at the IRS auditing office) who are trying to think up any emergency excuse to leave like they just found out they have a flat tire or their car battery died and need to take care of it right away...
The Mechanic: People who are always looking at their watches and you can tell by the worried expressions that they are hoping there won't be an unexpected "leak" or something... Each is mentally planning on what they are going to do next except for two certain families members of mine who twice went to an oil change shop and they forgot to put the oil cap on and all the new oil drained out and burned out their engines. They are thinking about whether their AAA subscription is current.