Waiting Room

Waiting rooms. What a difference there is when it comes to the spaces dedicated to the purpose of “the wait.” For a hair style or an oil change or a diagnosis . . . we wait. The environment itself, in a perfect setting, conditions us for what’s to come. The proprietors do their best (or their least) to set a tone while we inhabit their spaces and we wait.

My favorite tire shop has coffee and donuts and free tail wags from the owner’s friendly dog. There are regulars who drop in for the sports channel, downing coffee as if on a bar stool at Cheers. So pervasive and brain numbing is that heavy aroma of tire rubber though . . . and yet the out-of-place (yet not) loveseat plopped smack in the middle of the Michelin display gives a sense of “come and sit a spell, y’all — feel at home.”

So what are “we” like as a wait-room? For the people in our lives, those who count on us, or encounter us; longtime friends, fellow co-workers, our kids or family folk; how do we ourselves serve as a place they can wait? When their kid was in an accident or their mom just got the report or the longtime friend fears for their job? Do we pat them on the back with an awkward word of advice? Do we say those well-meant things such as, “you’ll be fine,” “worry doesn’t change anything,” or (forgive me) even dab on a bit of bible verse, saying as if on auto pilot, that “all things work together for good . . . ”

Can you feel what they feel and just be there? Can they come to you when the chips are down and the rent isn’t paid and the doctor’s news is bad—would they find in you the kind of waiting room that has regulars? Not flawless but with flexible hours of operation and maybe a coffee as needed?

Significant comments and helpful strategies are optional in the ultimate waiting rooms of life. Paid professionals can offer that. The heartfelt presence of an arm around the shoulder or a look straight in the eye will say what a thousand well-meaning words may fail to. We will get through this together. Come and wait.