People Watching / The Waiting Room

Yesterday I spent the morning in a hospital waiting room. I was there as moral support for a friend. Once she was called in to see the doctor I had the opportunity to people watch. I had an hour or so to kill, so what else would I do in a waiting room? Why, people watch and take notes, of course. Here are a few of the folks I saw.
An elderly lady with a walker. It had tennis balls cut open and stuffed onto the bottom of the walker so it would slide easier along the floor. I’m not sure if that was a good idea or not.
A young man, small of stature, with a lot of tattoos and a shaved head. He was trying to look dangerous, but that hard to do with your arm in a sling. All he managed to do was a look of extreme pain. I quietly beamed Reiki energy to him until he relaxed a bit.
A teenage girl with too many facial piercings was sleeping on her mother’s shoulder.
A buxom redhead with great glasses and the most awesome curls in her long hair.
A woman in a wheelchair wearing a pink helmet, her foot in a cast. Another was pushing the chair, and was making sure everybody knew how angry she was.
There was a tall thin man with big ears wearing a long brown coat. When he smiled the whole room seemed to brighten up. That smile was like a true blessing for us all.
Another wheelchair appeared with an older fellow wearing a plaid coat getting the ride. His foot was in a cast. His hair was white, his beard cropped into a neat goatee and his blue eyes fairly danced with mischief.
At this point the woman at the desk loudly asked if anyone had a number between one and seven. “What do I win?” I asked. Only the old guy in the chair chuckled. The woman frowned so I shut up. Sigh. No sense of humor, I wrote on the paper in my lap.
A tall blonde came in wearing a neon pink scarf with a lime green coat. “Must have a vision issue,” I thought.
About this time I did a double take as a tall man came in on crutches, his foot in a cast. One look at him and I shuddered in fear and looked away. This guy was a dead ringer for Imhotep, the bad guy from the movie “The Mummy”. I struggled to move my legs far enough to allow him to pass unhindered. He took a seat across the room, facing in my direction. I could tell that he knew that I knew he was the evil mummy in disguise. I fought myself to keep from kneeling before him intoning, “Imhotep, Imhotep” as I prostrated myself on the floor at his feet.
A short woman, maybe four foot ten, came in. She was wearing a great pair of glasses and I told her so. It made her smile.
That’s when Imhotep stood up and headed for the washroom. Again I struggled to give him room as he limped past, but he knew, and I knew that he knew. This was not going to end well for me. I could feel the disturbance in the force. As he returned, our eyes met for a moment before I could look away. Oh yeah, he knew that I knew alright. This time he stepped just a few inches closer, forcing me to fold my long legs that much further to let him pass.
As I straightened out again after he passed the buckle on my boot caught the fabric of my stocking and ripped a hole the size of Nova Scotia in the knee, causing a giant run down my leg. “Imhotep, you bastard,” my mind screamed. Was that a smirk on his face? Was it? I’m sure it was. That’s what I get for not showing proper worship when I clearly recognized who it was. Sigh. My bad.
Just then my friend returned and we headed for Starbucks for a latte. It was a busy place. Oh boy, more people watching. Everywhere I looked was a tiny Starbuck’s table, one intense human busy working on a laptop computer, latte at hand.
Now, I’m not quite sure what this says about Starbuck’s customers, but there were only Mac computers to be seen. Whoops, there’s a Dell over there, poor guy must be a student. Me? I had my trusty pen and paper. Say what? How did she get in here? OMG, paper? Seriously?
My friend slapped my arm and told me to behave. It almost worked. Now, we all know just how small those damn tables are at Starbucks, and the chairs aren’t a lot bigger. Nearby was a couple who nearly broke my heart, for a minute.
These two folks were struggling, both to find enough chair to sit on and to get close enough to the table to function. The girl had a small baby in her arms and that wasn’t helping either. I looked for a free table to pull up beside them so they could put the baby stuff on it, but there was none to be found. I was about to find the manager, but it all went sideways.
The male half of the couple turned in his tiny chair and bent over to get a bottle from the baby bag at his feet. As he did so, his sweat pants remained behind where they were. Yep, the entire moon shone pale and wan in Starbucks. Nothing was left to the imagination and there was no place to hide either, for it drew the eye like a spotlight in a dark room.
I bit my tongue until it nearly bled and looked around. My friend was shaking her finger at me, and everybody else seemed to be in one form of shock or another. The woman at the next table had eyes as big as dinner plates, and when we made eye contact I grinned and winked at her. That did it. She clapped both hands over her mouth and raced to the washroom. I could faintly hear her howls of laughter over the music.
Meanwhile, the young fellow had retrieved the bottle and righted himself as well as his pants. Now, here’s where a man with real class arrived on the scene. The manager had seen the whole thing, and, may the gods bless his gentle loving heart, found a spare table which he brought to the couple then helped them get the baby stuff up where they could easily reach it. I liked that manager for that and I will return to his café many times because of it.
Well, that’s my tale of yesterday folks. What adventures have you had lately while people watching?

18 thoughts on “People Watching / The Waiting Room

  1. “Imhotep, you bastard!” Nobody people-watches like you do, Prudence. What a keen eye. And, of course, you make them come alive in your writing. More, please!

  2. Oh wow Prudence, you had quite the day!

    Yes, I know all about the tennis balls on the feet of the walker. My husbands mother used to have them to keep her from gliding forward too quickly. They actually do work. And they come in all the latest fashion colors! Not. lol

    And what is it about men and the moon? Did you ask him if he was a plumber?

    Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed your people watching escapade! 🙂

  3. Love it, Prudence. Waiting room are great places to people watch… the one you met in particular. Totally felt like I was there with you…and equally creeped out by Mummy Man.

    I people watched at the gym today, where I normally read. A man was talking so loudly and saying such…interesting ;)..things that I couldn't help but pay attention. He was either extremely rude or had a serious case of Tourettes, in which case I sympathize.

  4. You are so bad! You made me spray orange juice all over my phone! I couldn't stop laughing after reading plum bob's exciting adventure. You turned a very boring event into a very entertaining experience. I really enjoy the spin you put on such casual interactions throughout your day. You definitely have the author's touch;-)

  5. Hi Prudence!

    Raises hand. I love to people watch. I check what people have in their grocery carts. That tells me a lot about someone. But as writers, I think our powers of observance are keener. We're always looking for an angle for a story.

  6. I MUST do more of this. I find I have an easy time with the psychological make up of characters but the physical behaviors and reactions are more challenging, so i must go and watch people more often.

    I work for a health care system, so sitting in a hospital is not uncommon. /but I have to say I really don't like being there – sick people hang out at hospitals

  7. Hi Louise, I have to agree that the waiting room wouldn't be my first choice. I much prefer the coffee shops or the malls. The malls at this time of year really give you material to work with.

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