McGregor Says: Reflections from the waiting room

Pick up a magazine and wait, suggests our columnist. 'That's why it's called a waiting room'

A sudden slip on some black ice damaged a tendon in my good knee recently.

For those of you who are not yet seniors, we do not use the terms ‘left or right.’

We have a good knee and a bad knee. We have a frozen shoulder and a good shoulder.

We have a good eye and a blurry eye and when we get out of bed in the morning we ‘put our best foot forward’ because the other foot has a fallen arch, plantar fasciitis, bunions or callouses.

After a few days of ice packs and heating pads my knee was still sore so I decided to go visit my doctor.

I went early because he has a walk-in clinic, but much to my surprise, a note on the door said he was on a week’s vacation. I didn’t know doctors were allowed to go on vacation, especially when I needed to see him.

Upon reflection, I decided it was better to have someone relaxed, rested and smiling listening to me rather than someone over-worked and stressed out who couldn’t care less about my ailments. I could wait.

After the week passed I went to his office and his receptionist said I could see him first when he came in at 10 a.m. There is a Tim Hortons in the same parking lot so I had a coffee and a snack and wandered back over about 9:45.

Other patients were coming in or phoning and they were not happy about having to wait because their doctor had been away for a week and why did they have to wait another hour or more.

One lady explained that her boss had given her time off and she needed to get in right away.

The receptionist must have taken the same course that the NHL and NFL referees take because she was getting it on the phone and over the counter and never raised her voice or lost her smile.

The louder they spoke, the softer she spoke. She had the pen and the appointment book, did they want to wait or not?

People didn’t seem to realize that pacing and gesturing wasn’t going to speed anything up.

All they had to do was sit down, pick up the October 2016 Maclean’s magazine and wait. That is why it is called a waiting room.

I watch people getting agitated in bank lineups, at grocery store checkouts and Motor Vehicle offices.

Many seem to think it is OK to admonish the clerk or the teller and tell them how the business should be run and why more staff should be on duty. Don’t they think the people that they are yelling at already know that?

The people they should be expressing their concerns at are in an office upstairs, or the 40th floor of a building in Toronto or at the government offices in Victoria.

But it is much more heroic to yell at the employee in front of them, rather than walking over to the service desk and asking to talk to the manager.

I’ve learned a lot from my Mother. Every time we’re in a waiting room together, she strikes up a conversation and we seem to meet two new people from Saskatchewan that we didn’t know before. And the time slips by.

One of my favorite quotes is: “Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.”

At least that’s what McGregor says.