Waiting Room Etiquette: Crazy Things People Do

I swear, people do the most insane things in doctors’ waiting rooms. As a professional patient, I feel like I have seen it all. The following is my list of things I have seen crazy people do.

Please don’t do these obnoxious things in the waiting room!

Take all of your phone calls on your cell phone. Please step outside. I do not know you, but even if I did, I do not want to hear all about your “boo” or your “bae”, and what you wore at dinner last night. I especially do not care what color your underwear was and whether “bae” liked it.

Play games with obnoxious noises. Your phone has a mute button. This is the time to use that lovely technology. MUTE.

Listen to music and videos; this is even worse when you are sharing with a friend. Earbuds are another great invention. This problem is so surprisingly pervasive, I have tried to start carrying a spare, cheap set to hand out to people who do this.

Wear a bottle of perfume. This is never socially acceptable, but chances are, in a doctor’s office, there are people with allergies, nausea, or any number of other issues that you are single-handedly making a LOT worse by smelling like the inside of badly written sex magazine.

Complain about waiting. I know these doctors extremely well. The reason you are waiting is because they are compassionate, GREAT doctors who take all the time needed for each patient. You will receive that same courtesy. I have also been the emergency that put the doctor behind for the rest of the day, and today, I am going to sit here quietly and just be grateful that I am not in that position. Your whining is not going to speed up this process, but it will certainly make it seem a lot longer for those of us forced to listen to it.

Make a payment over the phone. Technically, this falls under talking on your phone, but it is mortifying enough to warrant a separate conversation. If you are rude enough to take personal calls inside the waiting room, do NOT pay your bills. You just announced to an entire room of people your credit card number, expiration date, security code, along with your name and date of birth. If I felt any better, I would have written all that down and had a lovely shopping spree online.

Yell at or otherwise treat badly the patient you are accompanying. I cannot believe how many caregivers, parents, or drivers treat patients like dirt. I realize you probably gave up a few hours of your very important day to bring your child/mother/sister to the doctor, but that does not give you the right to talk to them that way, especially in front of other people. I’m a patient, and I have a short temper. One of these days, I am going to snap, and you might just find yourself with a bruise on the back of your head in the shape of my laptop.

The worst case of this I was subjected to was that of a mother chewing out her twelve-year-old daughter for forgetting to collect her copay money from her father. This poor child was at an endocrinologist, probably had diabetes, was obviously scared and sick, and her mother sat there and berated her for fifteen minutes. I was pulling out my wallet to hand the child twenty bucks when the mother finally shut her mouth, stormed up to the desk, and slammed down a check. Needless to say, I did not walk away thinking of her as a caring, loving, wonderful mom who was taking great care of her child.

Finally, do not sit down right next to me in an otherwise empty waiting room. Most doctors have a waiting room large enough to not only accommodate, but allow for some space, between all their patients. That is because a lot of stuff is contagious, waiting can be tiring, and people do not handle being squished like sardines very well. So if the waiting room has seating for forty, and only one person is seated, have the decency to put at least a little distance between us.

I’ve thought about drafting a memo and having a few dozen laminated copies with me at all times. I could distribute this to all the offenders I come across in the waiting room. Bless their hearts, some people just don’t have any common sense.

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