Etiquette in a Waiting Room

We’ve all been there. The waiting room. It’s awkward, it’s germ infested, and usually an extremely easy environment to become uncomfortable in. But there are a few things you can do to make this 5 minute (That turns into an hour) wait a little less awful.

Do not show weakness. and by weakness, I mean anything from a full blown coughing fit, to a little sniffle. The death glares sent your way cut through the air like a knife. The hardcore emetophobics even go so far as to reach into their purse, and pull out their stash of surgical masks. The braver ones just sit and scowl, pulling out their phones to furiously gossip to their best friend about the inconsiderate stranger to their left.

Speaking of phones, tread carefully before pulling yours out. Is there only one other person in the room with you? DO NOT bring out your phone. It can look antisocial. But much more importantly, it can actually provoke a conversation. You’ll very soon find your middle aged, clearly technically declined, neighbour peering over curiously as you type, finally daring to ask “is that a phone, or one of those handheld video games?” Not to be rude, you answer, and before you know it, you’re listening to their heartfelt story about their diabetic uncle in Russia, whose tragic misdiagnosis in a routine eye exam led to the loss of his right foot in a diabetic battle. Sad, yes. Unavoidable? Definately. Stick to a magazine.

Speaking of magazines, according to many posters on the walls, Health Canada has recommended removing all reading materials from patient waiting rooms to avoid germ spread. It is suggested that you instead bring your own. Well, unfortunately for you, nobody gave you a warning when you called to book your appointment. So if you don’t have a random book hanging out in your purse or jacket pocket, just sit quietly and stare at your shoes. It shows that you know that you have the choice to talk, but you aren’t taking it. And while this may be an incredibly bitchy thing to do – it beats those stories you could do without (“i’m here for a rash. Do you really think it looks that bad?”).

Another thing Health Canada did? Took the blessed children away from their toys. I mean, it was only a matter of time – how many little brats pick their noses before putting together their lego castle? Still, idle hands = impatience, so try not to look too annoyed when Billy steps on your new purse on his fifth lap around the room. And when Sally comes up to your lap and asks “what’s wrong with you?”, just do yourselves a favor and tell her you have a tummyache. This beats the hell out of listening to her ask Mommy for the next half hour, “What’s h1n1?”

Toddlers may be annoying. But if you’re the mom that brought the quiet newborn, congratulations, you just became the most popular person in the waiting room! And if you aren’t her, then sit next to her. That toothless little boy’s smile will be the highlight of your visit. Trust me.

Back to the phones for a minute. Let’s assume you are not alone in the waiting room (BONUS!). Chill for a minute and watch a twosome. They are all chatty and whatnot, until a lull in their conversation strikes. Count to three, and one of them will pull out their cellphone, guaranteed. The friend will sit awkwardly for a moment or two, before they casually follow suit. And before you know it, everyone in the room is using their cellphone, which is clearly a violation of the request above your head, requesting all patients to turn off their phones. I mean, we’re not in a movie theatre, but we can still respect the silence, right? Wrong. So if you’re going to come in a duo, make sure you have adequate conversation topics to explore. You may otherwise set off a domino effect that could be catastrophic (at least, that’s what the poster implies).

Old people don’t care. They will complain, fart, and cough without apology or remorse. Deal with it.

If any of this sounds too annoying to deal with, just wait in the car. And when it’s finally your turn, get in, get your treatment, and get out. Then, do your best to avoid the waiting room for as long as you possibly can.

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