The Waiting Room

9am and the local clinic is beginning to fill. A warning sign, just through the double entry doors and three feet from the reception, greets with prohibition: ‘Do not queue beyond this point’.

Three feet. The premium given to privacy.

The woman in front of me shuffles the crevasse between queue and receptionist, whispering her name, her appointment time, her address, the doctor she will see. All repeated by reception staff in a weary dismissive monotone that carries into the clinic’s silence. The motif Please take a seat, your name will be called shortly echoing after each of us as we reach the head of the queue and are ‘processed’.

The wheezing old man behind me shifts on bent legs. He coughs and farts. The woman behind him quietens a child’s high laughing voice which pipes that man pooped mummy.  The man seems oblivious. He smells of piss, cigarettes, unwashed body. I take my seat and observe the Receptionist’s recoil and her wrinkled noise; her attempt to manage his deafness; the spraying of freshener whilst he struggles towards the waiting room.

The child runs towards the primary coloured kid’s corner and begins whacking bricks. The mother attempts restraint in a reasonable voice. Look how patient and tolerant and understanding I am this voice says. I am a good Mother this voice says. But the child blithely ignores her. He fixes on the old man and runs towards him. You pooped. You smell. Why did you poop? He says in a voice that reaches into every corner of the large room.

People stare at left behind magazines as his mother gathers him up. The old man has not heard.

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9 thoughts on “The Waiting Room

  1. It was really interesting to observe the tacit group decision to “look away”.
    My Mother always says to me when I'm on my way to see a doctor: “leave your pride at the door and pick it up on the way back out”. I do that now. I observe all and treat myself and my body as dispassionately and objectively as though they belonged to a stranger. Best way I reckon.

  2. Me and the Big Man took a trip to the Doctor on Monday..I've been trying to sneak in a post this morning.

    You Momma's right I reckon…but, I think it's a lot easier to be objective about the woes (and smells) of others than it is to let go of your own body. At least it is for me.

  3. Welcome fly… the honesty of children! and the deafness of age! The old fella couldn't give a damn where or how he farted – and the child still blissfully unaffected by polite social inhibition.
    It was just so amusing to watch the embarrassed reactions of the adults!

  4. When one has had prostate cancer one realises just what women have to go through in terms of having nooks and crannies examined.

    Refreshingly in New Zealand if someone farts it might raise a laugh depending on the circumstances but embarrassment? No. Life is treated more easily here.

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