I like waiting rooms: the old copies of Cosmo, the faded paint, the idea that everyone here could be having more fun elsewhere. I can sit in doctors’ surgeries, stations, airports and find something absorbing, fascinating even, about anyone compelled to wait.
Waiting is a luxury, one you need money to enjoy, and I had run out of it, so now I was the one waiting. Waiting for an opportunity to earn waiting money.
Money seems to be an increasingly rare resource, which means more of us are thinking about earning it. I suspected I wouldn’t be the only applicant, but I was surprised to hear a melodious, fluting voice greet me with a polite “good morning”. There was a hint of amusement in those two words. I suspected I wasn’t the only Enjoyer of Waiting Rooms.
I offered my best “good morning” which was the start of my fake it and until you make it. I owed money left, right and up to my eyebrows and I needed this job to snorkel out of the rising sea of debt.
Money was disappearing rapidly correlating strongly when my husband left me to cavort somewhere in Italy with his new boyfriend.
Why was he looking so … so relaxed?
The other interviewee had not one speckle of stage fright; in fact he looked like he was actually enjoying himself.
He looked comfortably qualified. Qualified and ready to hurdle to the finish line and I would still be at the start line debating with my self confidence about the first hurdle to jump.
I used to do ‘good interview ‘back in the days when I was firing on “I can do anything “cylinders.
The best form of defense, I have been reliably informed, is offense. A high-risk / high-reward strategy presented itself. I turned to face her with my most honest face:
“Have you come for the job? I’m afraid it’s already been taken. I’m here to see the HR people about the details. Very sorry…”
The job already taken?
His words began to knit that poor sad me sack when something in me renewed itself.
” Well congratulations! Looks like we’ll be working together. You did get the brief this is to be a shared position now?”
I perfumed my words with a sultry smile and a ‘I so get your ploy Roy’ face.
There are waiting rooms and waiting rooms. This one had become a tumbleweed-swept alley where the hero faces off a nervous lip-licking bad guy under a burning sun before the town clock strikes the hour.
I slowly eased out my Blackberry from its holster. The harsh lighting made its gunmetal casing gleam.
“One of the suggestions I’ll be making to HR,” I drawled, affecting to look at the screen, “will be to streamline and… downsize.”
His words fired across my vulnerable flank, I had no iPhone hiding in my bag to counter his attack. I looked back at him with no words and a blank stare.
Was he waiting for my offensive?
Probably and he would have to wait, it was after all the name of the game here.
The waiting room with it’s calculated prints adorning the happy dance blue walls, dark blue industrial grade tear proof carpet and posture crippling seats had me sandwiched between the need to survive and the need to find the elevator. The vacant seats seemed fat and pretentious supporting only the thin air of my thoughts …. unharnessed thoughts about Napoleonic concepts of defeat, destroy at all costs.
He was still looking at me….waiting, without wanting to I smiled at him.
Hate waiting. Can’t stand it. Love watching others wait, but have no talent for it myself.
And there she was, persistently smiling at me.
Mouth went dry. Licked lips and realized that I was the bad guy waiting for the town clock to strike.
She kept smiling.
There was no clock in this waiting room (the best ones try to keep you in a timeless limbo), but our stand-off was about to come to an end.
A secretary was coming to call one of us in, the one who was sure to see off a rival in short order.
A pretty, pert young thing opened the door and said,
“Follow me please….”
The appearance of the secretary broke the drought of silence with her pink cherry lips smacking both of us with a smile.
I swear I heard her say my name; I took my green horns and ripened them by launching out of my seat.
He was in sync with my thoughts and in a nano second there we were together squeezing through the same doorway to our future.
Waiting is something we have all done sometime, somewhere and will do again.
A collaborative write with Stefan Stuart-Fletcher
Stefan begins the waiting …