The Waiting Game


This is what Henry looks like when he’s waiting to be seen by the veterinarian.

Hello? Can anyone hear me?

Of course not. That silence you hear is the sound of me.


Waiting, like I’ve got nothing better to do. Sitting here alone in my doctor’s office, waiting for her to enter the room and give me a checkup. It’s not as if I don’t have anything better to do. After all, I’ve got people to see, fish to fry. But sadly, this is the story of my life–and probably yours, too. Playing the waiting game.

Make no mistake, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to wait and it won’t be the last.IMG_0298

Sure, the nurse came in as expected. She asked me a bunch of questions, and checked my vitals. Even checked my oxygen level–and yes, turns out I’m alive. Then, just like that she vanished, with her last words to me being:

“The doctor will be in soon.”

Six little words. I should’ve said,

Define soon.

It’s not as if “soon” is relative or has tons of wiggle room. To me, when the nurse says the doctor will be in soon, I’m thinking five or ten minutes. Maybe even 15. But it’s not five weeks or six months from now.

Soon is soon!

So back to me, waiting. With nothing to do, I carefully examine all the flyers on the office wall:  “You can’t get the flu from getting the shot,” “Get screened for chlamydia” and an amusing illustration about what’s inside a toddler’s brain. I read every single flyer on the board and am most intrigued by the toddler’s cranium which, according to the picture includes a cartoon-addiction lobe and a “hyper-thalamu,” which triggers “startling adrenaline burst before bedtime.” Hmm…

Oliver isn't keen on waiting at the vet's office either.

Oliver isn’t keen on waiting at the vet’s office either.

Still waiting. Sitting in my hospital gown, I look out the window. The curtains are wide open and even though I’m on the second floor, the window faces the roof of a multi-level parking garage. Ahem, anyone getting out of their car could look up and easily see me in my altogether’s.

To avoid any embarrassment, I jump off the examining table, and close the blinds. Then, I resume waiting.

I’ve lived long enough that by now I should be used to waiting. It’s as normal as breathing, eating and farting. Heck, we are taught the art of waiting from the get-go.

We start life waiting to come out of our mother’s womb. Nine months? That’s a long time to wait! Life’s too short to spend nine months puttering around, waiting, without even a good book to help whittle away the time!

Waiting. That’s the name of the game and we all got to play it. Have you ever had to wait for anything?

That’s a rhetorical question, of course. I know you’ve had to wait and if you haven’t, you’re not human.

How many times have I had to wait? Let me count the ways…

The line at the cable TV office when I go to dispute my bill. I once saw a man pass out while waiting, I kid you not, and he did so right when it was my turn. It caused quite a commotion and added another 30 minutes to everyone’s wait time.

When a repairman comes to the house to fix or install anything. Notice how they can’t even commit to being there in a given hour. Last time one came over he gave me an eight-hour window with no promises that he’d show up at all.

Waiting in line at the grocery store. Even the 15 items or less line has a wait.

Waiting to win the lottery. I’m still waiting on that one, though I understand you can’t win if you don’t play.

Metaphorically waiting for my ship to come in.

Waiting for a vacation and much needed R&R.  I’m also waiting to be able to afford said vacation.

Waiting in line at the airport. Pick any line. Whether you’re in the line to check your bag, go through security or buy a cup of coffee, count on waiting. And ever notice how, no matter how long the line, you’re always at the end of it?

I estimate I’ve spent one third of my life sleeping, and the other two thirds waiting.

Wait! I hear a tap at the door. It’s the doctor, and it’s only 40 minutes later. Whew. That wasn’t so bad, now was it? I guess 40 minutes is a cake walk compared to other times I’ve waited. If you ask me, time flies when you’re doing nothing but waiting.

So, what do you do to pass the time while waiting?


22 thoughts on “The Waiting Game

  1. What a wonderful piece, Monica. You should order the latest issue of Creative Non-Fiction. All the essays are about waiting. This one would have fit right in. If I could have all the time back that I’ve spent waiting in my long lifetime, I’d still be back in the womb!

    • Jayne, waiting is something I do every day. Today I waited on line at the Home Depot to order some sample paints for a room I’m repainting. Then I waited on line to pay. I waited for my cousin Adele to call me back so I could discuss with her the many options of color I have chosen so far for this room. And I’m still waiting for me to make up my mind about which color I’m going to paint the room! Sigh. Waiting. It’s for the birds.

  2. After social media came along I check my twitter feed. Before that I’d read whatever magazine was available – that was before I needed reading glasses. After that I maneuvered the magazine from side to side trying to read the headlines.

  3. Okay, how bad was that? Is this why I carry a book everywhere I go? It must be, we have become so conditioned to the idea we will wait we now find ways to distract ourselves. Have you considered, we pay all these people who we are waiting for? We are actually their customer. Odd, you would think we wouldn’t be waiting for them, instead they should be working toward treating us far better.

    Oh well, I guess this is simply another example of why the world is entirely upside down.

  4. I take a book too Monica, It gives me some time to center myself before my what nots are examined. I wait and wait and wait. It feels like that’s all I do. I love my doctor, so I’m fairly patient, but then I feel rushed because I want to tell her things and I can’t – my appointment’s over. I’m going this week, I have written out everything I want to ask, I will forget if not. I’m taking my oldest with me, my doctor delivered her and always wants to see the girls. She cannot however wait while I am examined, so she brings a book too.

    • You need to start a book club with Carl, Lisa and Debbie below. You all take books and that’s so smart. I just accept waiting as a necessary evil. The funny thing is that I raised my children to always take a book when traveling in the car. My feeling on that is, you never know when you’ll break down and have to wait for a tow-truck. Might as well read! I love that your doctor is the same one who delivered your girls and insists that you bring them along. How sweet!

  5. As you well know, I spend a great deal of my time waiting on doctors. I’ve decided to embrace the wait. I bring a book and call it my “uninterrupted reading time”. Of course eventually the nurse comes and interrupts, but I can pick right up again while waiting for the doctor. I’ve found most of my doctors are also readers. We have delightful conversations about books and trade recommendations. Much less stress, much more fun. Still haven’t figured out the paper gown though.

  6. It is said that the British are the kings of queuing

    My doctors surgery is at the bottom of my road and I once had a great debate with a receptionist on the phone who said that the doctor could not guarantee a call to my house because it might be too out of the doctors way. I had great pleasure telling her that that the mere act of him going two and from work meant he had to pass within 50ft of my house twice a day. I got my visit.

    I hate waiting for people who set a time and are then late with a passion.

    More than once I have ditched the trolley in a supermarket and walked out because of the wait.

    Somebody once said “I have better things to waste my time on than waiting in a queue.”

    • Queuing, trolley. Love how the Brits speak. On line or in line is how we say it here. As for trolley, we call it a shopping cart.
      I had no idea you were so impatient. I thought that was just a New Yorker trait. 😉

      • Oh no I hate wasting time, I love having things to do.
        Sitting doing nothing is just not me.
        Did somebody not do a book once on American words and their British equivalents? Or perhaps it was the other way round, I don’t remember.

      • I’m sure you’re right about such a book. But who has time to read? I prefer these differences in language to bubble up naturally. I think of a trolley as public transportation. In fact, in order to get to Comic Con, I took the trolley each day!

  7. Great post, Monica! Waiting 45 minutes for a doctor who finally shows up and gives you 5 is about the craziest thing ever, don’t you agree? I’m one who doesn’t wait well. I fidget. I pace. Shoot, in the doctor’s examing room, I’ve been known to exercise! I always keep a notepad with me, in case I get a sudden idea to write something. I play on my phone. I read, anything and everything available. I rearrange the furniture in waiting rooms. Anything to take my mind off the inevitable, Are we there yet??!

    • Yes, Debbie, I agree. Usually I bring something to read, but I think I left my book in the car. A travesty, indeed. I can’t think of a bigger time waster than waiting. And yet time waits for no one. Humph!

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