Last week we were talking about waiting rooms in now almost non-existent bus and train stations. Try finding one in Arizona. Most of what you find is this:

“Benson, Arizona. Built 1880. Last Southern Pacific passenger service 1971. Torn down in 1970s. Replica of Benson depot built on this location in early 2000s for Chamber of Commerce.”

But the best part?

“Amtrak’s Sunset Limited and Texas Eagle stop at a shed nearby.”

Oh, joy! What fun! Happy hours spent waiting for a train down near Tucson in some blazing hot shed! Wouldn’t you love that?

Of course, when we speak of “waiting rooms,” what usually comes to mind are the waiting rooms of our doctors and dentists. I personally have had no problems with either of those. In fact, the ones I visit here in Payson are quiet, comfortable, efficiently run places, and that is, of course, about all you can expect of a place where people are waiting for some kind of medical treatment.

To be honest, however, in my 21 years in the Air Force, which often found me overseas, I saw some rather disturbing exceptions to what we have here in the U.S. For example, check this example of what I saw in Karachi back when I was there. Just enter this image into your browser:

Look carefully now. The dentist in that on-the-street “waiting room” is using a foot pedal to drive that low speed drill! Ouch!

However, THE worst experience I ever had in a waiting room took place under “Socialized Medicine” in the UK.

I was driving home to an American airbase near Oxford when I heard a “tick-tick-tick” in the engine compartment of my Chevy Corvair and pulled into the parking lot of a large building to check what it was.

The clicking noise was the sound of a tiny pebble stuck under one of the engine belts. I shut off the engine, flicked it out with a fingernail, and went to close the hatch to the compartment of the air-cooled engine; but my left thumb got caught in a sharp little bend in the edge of the hatch, which ripped a jagged slit in it.

Luckily, although I had no medical stuff in the car, I did have a handy dandy roll of thin black plastic electrical tape. So I grabbed the tape, stuck its loose end to my wrist, and ran it around and around the fast bleeding thumb. Luckily, the bleeding slowed to a drip.

Then I saw that by miraculously good luck the “large building” in whose lot I was parked was a hospital. Smiling from ear to ear, in I went.

The “waiting room” was just the entrance hallway, where two nurses sat chatting at a counter. I walked up to the counter, waited until one of the nurses took note of me, and showed her the dripping cut.

“You may have a seat,” she said coldly, pointing to a row of wooden chairs.

I, and my still–dripping cut, sat.

Two and a half hours later, now sitting in a two-foot diameter puddle of my own blood, and tired of the yada-yada-yada back of the counter, I got up, went out, rewrapped my thumb more tightly, drove to our airbase, and spent a whole 15 minutes getting the thumb properly cared for.

That hallway, I can tell you, was not my idea of a happy waiting room.

Socialized Medicine – yuck!

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