A few years ago, I was forced by circumstance to spend a great deal of time in the trauma waiting room of a large hospital. While this is obviously a place of great drama, it also became a source of great amusement. After lengthy observation, I began to notice that the people in the waiting room actually seemed to fall into amusing categories.
The Campers – These folks move in for the duration of their significant other’s illness. They bring suitcases, blankets and pillows. If anything goes wrong, they want to be there, almost as if nothing bad can happen if they are there to prevent it. I kept wondering when they would pitch a tent and build a campfire.
The Munchkins – In spite of rules against eating in the waiting room, these people have to eat anyhow. Eating is obviously their greatest pleasure in life. One family actually brought in a laundry basket and huge cardboard box filled with chips, pretzels and snacks. After watching the consumption marathon for endless hours, it began to frighten me to think about what they might do if they ever run out of junk food to munch on.
The Parkers – They mark their territory. They hang around until a good chair is vacant, preferably a recliner, and pounce on it. Like explorers, they stake a claim, plant an imaginary flag, and the chair is now their property for the duration. They proceed to pile belongings next to it. If they get up to visit or use the phone, they put a purse or pillow on it so no one else will use it. Take my advice and don’t ever trespass on a parker’s chair unless you are prepared for a turf war.
The Litterbugs – leave a trail of trash behind them. These folks are somewhat similar to the munchkins, except they spread it around. They bring in soft drinks, newspapers, fast food, snacks, and fried chicken dinners. They sit in different places and leave their trash strewn behind on tables or the floor, seldom bothering to use the trash can. Fortunately, a cleaning crew comes in once a day to prevent the other occupants from being buried in paper cups and chicken bones.
The Porcupines – These people have a problem with simple rules like “no children” allowed. They bristle and become angry when asked to go to another waiting area. Sometimes they complain loudly about security or hospital staff. They do not seem to understand that this waiting room is subject to dangerous germs and bacteria inadvertently carried out of the trauma unit by visitors. The rules are for their own protection, not just to protect the rest of the occupants from their brats. That is just a side benefit.
The Gabbers – stay on the phone all the time. While cell phones are allowed, these folks never have one and continuously tie up all the house phones with personal calls. They are oblivious to the need of anyone else to make a call, and even to the fact that doctors use waiting room phones to reach patients’ families. There were two phones in the room and one gabber often had calls on both at the same time. One could only wonder at the insensibility to anyone’s needs other than their own.
The Party People – are usually large families who come in due to the current emergency and end up having a family reunion. They bring friends, visit, talk loudly, laugh and generally have a whooping good time, seeming to totally forget the reason they are there. While I can understand families wanting to draw together in time of crisis, I was astonished by how quickly a serious occasion seemed to turn into a shindig.
Eventually, the initial shock of the situation wore off and I began to realize that the trauma waiting room was making me crazy. I escaped as often as possible and learned to visit periodically instead of staying there constantly.
I also learned that where there are people, there is humor, if only one tries hard enough to look for the funny side of life.