I’ve had over 85 years of experiences with waiting rooms. Fortunately, I’ve forgotten most of them. And yes, I admit it — waiting rooms are not my favorite places; and I have no doubt that they aren’t your favorite place in which to spend time either.
Nevertheless, let’s talk about them in a couple of columns. Maybe we can at least begin to understand what it is we don’t like about them. And maybe — just maybe — someone reading these two columns might be someone who can make changes in a waiting room somewhere. And maybe that “someone” might even make some changes.
Yeah, I know: Ho! Ho! Ho! But what the hey! Let’s give it a shot, OK?
So what is it we don’t like about waiting rooms?
To begin with, most present-day experiences with waiting rooms occur in places we enter in pursuit of some kind of medical help, true? And the chances are that very few of us are there voluntarily. So, to begin with, if we have to be in a waiting room, we would rather it be for some other reason, which does very little to improve the attitude of the average waiting room participant.
That means, of course, that one of the biggest problems of the waiting room comes from its temporary inhabitants — that is to say, you and me. And why are we problems? Because we arrive there with what is sometimes not the most joyous attitude.
However, what do you say we set that situation aside until the end of this very short discussion? Right now, let’s consider some things we don’t like about waiting rooms — other than the simple fact that we would often rather be somewhere else.
Believe it or not, there were once two types of waiting rooms that were actually downright pleasant. “And just where and when was that true?” you may be asking. “And what kind of waiting rooms were they?”
Well, you may be not old enough to remember them, but the waiting rooms in bus stations and railroad stations were once very nice places. In fact, both the train station and the bus station in New London, where I grew to manhood, for example, had waiting rooms I enjoyed going to when I was a teenager.
They were both very quiet, restful places where people sat in comfort while they waited for a bus or train to come in. In fact, in a column that will appear in just a few weeks I will tell about one of the most astonishing experiences of my entire life. It occurred in the bus station in New London.
However, I wouldn’t look for one of those warm, friendly bus stations anymore. I did a little checking, and while I suppose some of them may still exist somewhere, I couldn’t find one listed on the internet. Oddly enough, some of the ones in Arizona were listed as being in McDonald’s restaurants, but all the ones of that kind which I found said they were now closed.
Also, when I did some checking on train stations here in Arizona all I came up with were things like this:
Mesa, Arizona. Built 1931. Last Southern Pacific passenger service 1971. The 1980 “Hattie B” flood relief train served this station. Burned, January 1989.
Phoenix Union Station. Built 1923 by the Southern Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railways. Last ATSF passenger service, April 1969. Last SP service May 1971. Last Amtrak service, June 1996. Still stands. Restored in 1990s and 2000s. Now owned by a telecommunications company.
More next week.