The Library in the Waiting Room

I’ve been spending a lot of time in doctor’s waiting rooms lately.  Not because of my health, thank goodness, but because I have been providing transportation and companionship to various family members as they meet with their health care providers.  It is always a fascinating experience for me.  It was this morning I began to realize it was fascinating because it is like visiting a library.

Each person there has their own story.  Some will share them willingly, like a book on display.  Some hold theirs close to themselves, like an ancient manuscript in a climate controlled case, hiding from light and air and anything else that might damage them.  Some keep theirs quiet only to find their companions more than willing to tell it to anybody around, much to their dismay.  That situation reminds me a bit of gossip tabloids on display.

Some stories are mysteries, where the main character has no idea what is going on and can only hope the doctor is a good detective.  Some are comedies, born of foolish accidents, told with rolling eyes.  Many are tragedies, tales of pain and long suffering, and read with knowledge of the certain sad ending.  Some are stories of coming joy, read in the movement of a child trying to find room in their mother’s womb.  Some are suspenseful and full of fear, told with a parent’s fearful grip on their child’s hand.  Some are adventures, the ending unknown, each chapter full of twists and turns, but with the main character demonstrating determination and endurance.  Many are inspirational, despite bald heads, obvious exhaustion, and trauma evident in the body, but with smiles and lack of fear on their faces.

The range of reactions to problems is amazing, and a true example of human expression.  Fear, joy, confusion, bewilderment, sadness, grief, anger, guilt, compassion, tolerance, endurance.  Those and many more are found in these office spaces.  Some are found in other places, but there is nowhere like a doctor’s office to find so many in so short a time, often with no masks, no self protection, just a community of humans looking for company or not.

If you find yourself in a doctor’s office sometime, look around.  Strike up conversations.  This is the library of humanity.  Some stories are boring, some are interesting, some are riveting.  You will never know which is which until you can read the dust jackets, and if they are willing, to open the pages.

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