In the waiting room


The chairs are always uncomfortable and picking up a magazine feels like picking dirty underwear from a colorful mountain of laundry. The waiting room fools no one in its trite and glossy appearance — everyone can handle this four-walled foyer with the confidence of a four-year-old armed in colored crayons.

The metaphorical waiting room, is a different matter altogether.

To begin with, it’s boundless. When will they call my number? When is it my turn? In time, you realize the futility of such questions. You try to work with this; surely you can trick these forces of abstraction into the kind of lingo you’ve learned to translate well. You ask your banker when you’ll get your loan. He answers in nonsense words you understand: Soon. You ask your boss if you can take the day off next week. He meets your definite question with: We’ll see. You ask yourself if you will ever manage to save more than a two-digit number and the answer comes back as a surprise: Who knows?

My experience has taught me that ambiguity is infectious.

You see, in the waiting room you enter with a smile, head for the secretary and inform you’ve arrived. You squeak your way onto the fake leather couch and pretend to look distractedly at the wall, while listening in on gossip shows blasting on flat-screen TVs. You look around you, make up stories of those beside you, wonder who’s before you and how many more minutes of this transition ordeal you have left. And then, they call your number. And it’s over.

But for the things that matter in life you wait with Gwen Stefani, and you can’t help singing along despite your indie taste: “I’m all alone in the waiting room.” And when you suddenly mouth unsuspectingly “It’s icky, it’s sticky” you snap out of it and get on with your life.

There are a million other things to do.