While you wait. . .Is this really necessary?

Posted on 1 October 2010 at 9:54 am in Personal Stories, Writing.

Why is it when we go into a waiting room, there always has to be a television blaring? It doesn’t matter whether it’s my car dealership, a doctor’s office, or even my tax accountant; you are always forced to listen and watch some television program. Why can’t they set up two rooms, one for those that need the distraction of TV and those that want a quiet place to read and contemplate life’s mysteries?

What annoys me the most is when I’m in a waiting room and I know that the wait is going to be long. Inevitably they will have a TV tuned to the local news station. After a while you will have heard the same news bytes numerous times. Do I really need to be reminded so many times how inefficient and contradictory our political system is?

The opposite is even more perplexing. If I’m in a waiting room that has a short wait, why are they showing a movie? You either come in the middle of it and unless you’ve seen the movie before have no clue as to what happening, or you have to leave before it ends, and have no satisfactory conclusion to whatever suspense it has set up.

It’s fascinating to see what the place your waiting at has chosen to put on their TV sets.

I was in a pediatric sick waiting room, where they were playing videos of diseases that kids might have and what you can do to prevent and treat them them. I’m sure the pre-schoolers that were waiting in the room really benefited by knowing how deadly and dangerous Lyme disease can be.

In an optometrist’s waiting room, while waiting to get a new pair of glasses, I got to watch an actual operation on some degenerative eye disorder. Maybe they wanted the graphic detail of the operation to force me to close my eyes and rest them.

At least in my dentist’s office, the TV is unobtrusive and plays a Dental multiple choice quiz for you to take. Now what were George Washington’s teeth made out of again?

While waiting to get my brakes replaced on my car and I was told that there were two waiting rooms, a quiet one and a television one. I chose the quiet one, which was an open area just off of the show floor that had a radio playing throughout the showroom speakers, with not necessarily soothing music. I subsequently moved to the TV room, where no one else was waiting, so I hit the ‘mute’ button on the TV’s remote.  Interestingly enough, as people entered the waiting room, I offered to unmute the TV, and no one took me up on the offer.  I should note that the TV had closed captioning on, which might have made a difference.

When I write and read, I usually like to do it with quiet. Sometimes music in the background, that doesn’t inspire me to sing along or tap my feet works. Otherwise sounds and visuals cause me to lose focus. It’s amazing how many times I can read the same sentence in a book in those situations and still not know what I’ve read.

People who know me might dispute that I like quiet, in that when I’m driving in my car I am always listening to podcasts, talk show radio stations and stories no matter how short the trip. But the key here is that I’m not trying to read or write.

So I’m all for have a quiet option for waiting rooms. At least provide headphones for those waiting that want to listen to what is going on. Or just keep the sound off and let people just watch; it works for restaurants.  How many sports restaurants do you go to that have multiple TV’s on that you can’t hear a thing of what is being said because of the restaurant atmosphere? In those situations I would consider putting closed captioning on for people who really want to know what is happening. But that is a rant for another day.

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