Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Crabby Mom's Guide to Waiting Room Etiquette

The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part
-Tom Petty, "The Waiting"

I think it’s time that we address an issue that affects all of us – young, old, moms, dads, non-parents, marrieds, singles. I’m talking about how to behave when in a waiting room.

At one time or another, all of us spend time in a waiting room. Whether it’s an appointment for the pediatrician, orthodontist, dentist, optician, attorney, music lessons, rehearsals, auto service – no matter where, there is usually a waiting room in which people…well...wait, of course. It seems to me that with all of our new-fangled technology, people are forgetting their manners and imagining that the waiting room is like their car – private and soundproof. Folks, it’s not. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. Everything that you do in a waiting room is magnified, amplified and viewed 100 times more than normal. The point is, you’re not alone and it’s time you stop acting like you are.

Cell Hell. I hate to beat a dead horse, but some of you have not gotten the message. Cell phones are annoying. Nobody, and I mean nobody wants to hear you talk to your boyfriend on the phone. It’s not amusing, entertaining or pleasant to hear you dish on that juicy piece of gossip. If you make or receive a cell phone call in a waiting room, either step outside the room or lower your voice. And just because you have one of those Bluetooth thingies in your ear, don’t think we’re impressed. For some reason, those only make people talk louder in a vain effort to wow others with their technological prowess. Yawn!

Personal Computers. If you bring a laptop, turn off the sound. Don’t be playing YouTube videos or comedy DVDs at top volume. It’s distracting and annoying. Oh, and again, we’re not impressed that you have a laptop. Many of us do and are able to unplug for an hour or two. You do not look as important as you think you do. We all have jobs. Get over yourself.

Chatting. This is allowable within reason in a waiting room. It’s OK to quietly and discreetly comment on something that everyone in the room has seen, such as the fact that Matt Lauer is interviewing Kofi Anon who has a huge fly on his face. You can comment to the person nearest you, as long as they’re not deeply immersed in reading and trying to get some peace or quiet. Make the comment and then let it go. This isn’t an opportunity for a monologue on what’s wrong with TV news or the United Nations. Save it for your knitting circle. And if you find someone who wants to talk about the fly on Kofi’s face, fine, just keep the volume down. Some of us are trying to read!

YourPod, not MyPod. Listening to an iPod is a great way to pass the time in a waiting room. But do not, under any circumstances sing out loud. It makes you sound like an idiot, reveals the bad singer you are and annoys the hell out of everyone.

Kids. I love kids. It’s why I’m a mom. But if you bring them into a waiting room, take care of them – they’re yours. In some cases, the people near you in the waiting room are not feeling well. Do not make them feel worse by allowing your toddler to wander over and put their gooey hands on people while you finish reading the “Enquirer” article on Britney and Kevin. Even if it’s not a doctor’s office waiting room, none of us want to watch or hear your kids run around screaming and fighting. Put them in straight jackets, use duct tape or leave them at home if the appointment is not for them. The point here is that the word “parent” is a verb as well as a noun. Try it someday.

Waiting Rules. In many waiting rooms, there are reading materials for everyone’s use. Sometimes there are also toys to amuse the kids. If you make use of either, put them back when you’re finished. This isn’t your kitchen table or your teenager's bedroom. When your turn comes, return the magazine or newspaper to where you found it (turned back to page 1, please) and put the toys back. It takes seconds and Nurse Ratched will wait for you. It’s part of her job.

Make Room in the Room. When you find yourself seated, alone, in the middle of a row of six chairs, and The Brady Bunch arrives, the polite thing to do is move to another group of chairs. It’s not going to kill you to relocate yourself. That’s why you have a book mark, so that you can stop reading, do something, and then start reading again.

Sit Quietly. In this world of constant entertainment and overstimulation, it’s become very difficult for people to simply sit quietly and do nothing. And so, when in a waiting room, they tend to annoy those around them. If this is you, stop it. Learn the zen of doing nothing. Do what Sr. Nila used to teach us: Sit with your hands folded in your lap. Think of it as your own personal mini-spa moment. Close your eyes and go to a happy place, but do it quietly!

See, that's not so bad. Now, can you pass me that copy of "Us" Magazine?


At 11:07 AM , Blogger scrapperjen said...

AMEN!!!!!!! Could we post this in ALL waiting rooms???? :D

At 4:51 PM , Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...


These should be posted in every WAITING ROOM in this country...!
Terrific posrt Karen, and such really a wonderful lesson to the "ME ME ME" Generation that there needs to be some thought and courtesy to others...! I APPLAUD YOU!

At 6:25 PM , Blogger Star said...

The word "parent" is a verb as well as a noun. That should be on a T-shirt!

At 9:59 AM , Anonymous Janet said...

Love this post!!! Can I print it out and hang it in the doctor's office next time I go? ;-)

Hi, Michele sent me.

At 4:01 PM , Blogger caramaena said...

Hi Karen,

Thanks for visiting my blog :)

This is brilliant and if there was a tshirt with '"parent" is a verb as well as a noun,' on it - I'd buy it!

At 7:41 PM , Blogger The Mistress of the Dark said...

Those definitely need posted in all waiting areas.

Thanks for stopping by my site today!

At 9:14 PM , Blogger Marisa said...

Seriously, I'm going to print this out and stick it in all the Us magazines in waiting rooms.

On a side note, watched the Bears game with Packers fans last night, not an easy first half at all.

At 2:34 PM , Blogger Jess Riley said...

Excellent rant. Luckily, I'm usually the only one in the waiting area at my dentist or doctor.

Come to think of it, perhaps that's not a good sign.

At 6:59 AM , Blogger moon said...

AMEN and lets throw in a HAPPY DANCE... I happen to have spent the last week, in waiting room hell 4 times! YES 4 times!..ARGGG...IF it wasn't screaming kids, it was annoying ppl constantly getting up to ask the already busy receptionist if it was their turn soon....I just wanted to stand up and yell SIT DOWN AND SHUT THE FUCK UP LIKE MOST OF THE PPL HERE SEEM TO KNOW HOW TO DO....YOUR TIME IS NO MORE IMPORTANT THEN ANYONE ELSES!....But being the polite waiter that I am, I said nothing.

This was a great post, thoroughly enjoyed it after the week I had lol.
Here Via, Micheles today.

At 8:44 AM , Blogger Moogie said...

This is a wonderful list. Too bad most offices won't post something like this on their door. Sad thing is? It's all common sense.

Michel sent me, but I'm glad I came.

At 9:12 AM , Anonymous Pearl said...

whoops. I put the comment to this under wrong post. It's down thataway.

At 5:26 PM , Blogger IndyPindy said...

Oh, you took the words right out of my mouth. You are SO RIGHT!

Here from Michele's.

At 6:05 AM , Blogger Mike said...

Great list unfortunately most people don't follow these ideas.

Here from Michele

At 6:05 AM , Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

That's all so true, Karen. I can't stand cell phones anyway.

Michele sent me here.

At 7:43 AM , Blogger carli said...

I agree with most of this, but in an ideal world we wouldn't have to WAIT so long! I'm surprised you didn't say anything about "covering" your cough or sneeze. I've come out of a lot of doctors' offices sicker than I was to begin with.

At 12:07 AM , Blogger kenju said...

Karen, this is a perfect post to print and hang on ANY WAITING ROOM WALL!

At 11:38 PM , Anonymous kontan said...

WONDERFUL! Certaily should be posted in every waiting room!

At 12:04 PM , Blogger David said...

i knew there were rules, now I know what they are. thank you so much!
Bless you

At 7:09 AM , Anonymous Maryanne said...

Here, said it all and so beautifully I might add. I agree with every word you said. Common curtesy seems to have gone out the window. It's not such a hard concept to grasp either. Why has our society made it so difficult?

Thanks for a great post.

At 4:24 PM , Blogger Manic Mom said...

Do you freelance write? You could turn this post into a great article for Parenting or Parents! Seriously.

At 11:21 AM , Blogger Carmi said...

I like how Manic Mom and I think alike. I've been saying that for ages: your work deserves to be in print. I'd be your #1 reader-fan.

At 10:03 AM , Blogger Linda said...

I'm with you on all that! I usually bring my own magazine, or knitting. This tends to draw comments, usually about what I am making. I make friends easily this way, lol. But yeah...I don't like others' conversations, particularly when there are several signs posted that state NO CELL PHONE USAGE on the walls. I turn my phone off. Why can't YOU?

And no, I don't need your kid's snotty nose wiped on my knee...I'm here to get mySELF taken care of, I don't need to bring home more germs.


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