I am constitutionally disinclined to wait gracefully. Four of my least favorite adjectives describe why. Waiting is most often passive, public, unpredictable and confined meaning I will be confined to a prescribed area with strangers for an undetermined amount of time during which I will have a very limited range of sessile activities to choose from to pass the time. This makes me batty.
But when you have a family to care for, waiting rooms become an unavoidable evil. Kids have to go to doctors and dentists. Pets have to go to the vet. And, as was the case yesterday, cars have to get serviced. After years of practice, I can usually deal with most waiting rooms now with a travel cup of coffee and a book. Sometimes, though, extremer measures are called for.
How to pass the time in waiting rooms:
1- Stare surreptitiously at the person sitting in a more desirable spot until they get the telepathic message and relinquish the seat. (Doesn’t work, but worth a try.)
2- Count the people who are playing with phones, laptops or tablets and compare it to the number of people who are reading books or magazines.
3- Glare at the rude guy talking loudly on his cell phone until the device bursts into flames. (Doesn’t work either, but I keep hoping.)
4- Try not to think about how many people have, are or will invade your personal space before the waiting is over.
5- Try not to think about how many people have occupied the chair you currently inhabit and what communicable diseases they may have carried.
6- Read the book you brought. If concentration is difficult, pretend to read it so you won’t look like some goober staring off into space.
7- Stare off into space (until you realize that that “space” is occupied by a person who is glaring at you for staring at them).
8- Go outside and try to find someplace to pace or loiter unobtrusively at the edge of the parking lot. Go back inside when someone comes out, stands nearby, and lights a cigarette. Cough as you walk by them.
9- Count the people wearing glasses. Calculate ratio of the total. Count the women with short hair. Calculate ratio.
10- Glare at the woman talking loudly on her cell phone but do it surreptitiously because she is old enough to be your grandmother and deserves courtesy even if she is an annoying nit.
11- Wonder how many people are left in the world who are old enough to be your grandparent and how quickly that number is dwindling. Try to calm down after that thought freaks you out a little.
12- Wonder what on earth could be taking so long. Drum your fingers. Stop drumming your fingers because that annoys people. Realize you are grinding your teeth. Try to stop.
13- Count the people sleeping.
14- If you are in the waiting room of a pediatric practice, stare at the fish tank. Count the orange fish. If there’s not a fish tank, spend a few moments wishing there was.
15- Repeatedly pick up your travel mug to make sure it’s still empty. Sigh loudly when you find that it is. Slump in your seat.
16- Open your book and stare at it.
17- Repeat these steps for the length of your wait. Good luck.
Happily, I managed to break my pattern yesterday. I did actually go through all these steps for the first half hour. Except the book. I purposely didn’t bring a book to read this time. I brought a notebook. And after that first half hour, I wrote it all down. That killed another half hour and made my hand hurt. But I felt slightly productive and even enjoyed myself a bit. So I wrote some more. I call that a success.
Your turn. Does waiting make you nuts or do enjoy the downtime? What do you do to pass the time? Do you have Asperger’s, social anxiety or another condition that makes waiting or standing in line (ugh) problematic for you? What do you do about it?