Scenes from a Waiting Room:

May 1, 2024 | Robin Bond | |

I want more friends, but I can’t find my people.

March 13, 2024, 6 p.m. 

Day 947 of Our Discontent

Emergency Room Waiting Room 

UNC Chapel Hill, 4 hours from home

Quick background: My husband Ron has metastatic prostate cancer. This moment is happening while he waits in a temporary “holding cell “off some hallway near the emergency room—till they find him a hospital room and admit him, once again. It’s amazing what we go through to keep him alive without benefit of a qualified/engaged local oncologist in Asheville, but that’s a story for another time. 

I decide to leave Ron’s holding cell to seek the “comfortable” chairs of the waiting room where I can work and read, despite the fog of kid germs and the fevered wailing of un-napped children. 

I find a secret, idyllic side lounge with a window, which I offer to share with a nice lady/fellow lap-topper named Jamie who is also working. We work. We are happy. 

Young-ish mom Michelle comes in with screaming, giant 2-year-old Ryland whom she says can’t talk. She’s chatting away with me when Ryland says, “No words, Mommy.” He’s telling her to stop talking. Clear as a bell. In fact, I know, “No words, Mommy!” I’m sure that was the first verbal command my own precious angels had uttered as tots! 

I like Michelle. She’s engaging and friendly, an all-around attractive person. She tells me she did seven years in the Coast Guard, which impresses me to no end. Then Ryland says, Mommys bag, Mommys phone, Monster truck. Little fucker can talk! Just needs verbs is all.

I can work with this! I decide to engage the shit out of him in conversation—not literally, but Ryland promptly craps his diaper. Bigly. Michelle is slow to react as she finishes telling me how to use dog dewormer to cure my husband’s cancer. She absent-mindedly starts to change Ryland’s diaper and asks me what I do for work. I tell her about my job in local TV. She tells me she was recently on the news. “What for?,” I ask.

“I was on stage at a Trump rally—It’s the most fun I’ve had in years,” she says. She changes the diaper but does not excuse herself to dispose of Little Big Ryland’s deposit.

I can’t breathe. Did my own little cherubs’ crap smell like this? No way. Surely that would have curled my straight hair. Wait, where’s my worker friend, Jamie? 

“We’re just lucky it’s not diarrhea,” Michelle says. “And how,” I nod.

By now Michelle has commandeered my phone and declared us Facebook friends. (Ryland has taken her phone by now and is writing his manifesto I think.) 

“Oh wow, I need to check on Ron,” I say, my eyes crossing from the stench. “He was supposed to be in a new room by 7,” I lie. I say goodbye to Michelle and Ryland and wonder… had a made a new friend today?

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Robin Bond

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