I have done this more times than I’d like.
In fact, I spent most of yesterday at the Texas Women's Hospital downtown. I have a kit I take along that helps me survive these interminable days.
This waiting room survival kit is good for any occasion that finds you waiting for more than a couple of hours.
Whether you're headed to a surgery waiting room, a big clearance sale, or the DMV, take your kit along.
Here's how to put together…
A Waiting Room Survival Kit
First, you'll need a comfortable backpack. Don’t carry a purse especially if you're going to walk any distance from parking lots to a hospital. Put your cell phone, basic purse necessities, etc. in a backpack. It’s more comfortable and safer than a purse hanging off your shoulder. It's easier to manage a backpack than a giant purse or maybe a purse and a tote bag that holds your entertainment for the day.
I like a backpack that has netting bottle holders on the sides. I actually use a backpack from a European tour I took a few years ago. The bag should be roomy enough to hold the following things you'll need to survive comfortably.
Winter or summer, most waiting rooms are either freezing cold or over-heated. Take a jacket in case it's the former. Wear layers in case it's the latter. If you don't need the jacket, roll it up and put it in the backpack.
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Seriously. You’ll be surprised how dry your mouth will get and how nasty after a day of eating snack foods and drinking bad coffee.
Bring something to do to pass the time. Televisions in waiting rooms are usually pre-set to CNN or something similar. The volume is turned off so you have to read the captions if you insist on watching the tube. A Kindle, cell phone with the Kindle app, iPad or something similar is great and lighter weight than print books. Stock your cell phone or ereader with plenty of books in case you get bored with the first one you select. If you want to play games or watch Netflix movie
s, be sure and bring your earbuds. You’ll get ejected if you try listening without earbuds.
Notebook and Pen
You may want to take notes when the doctor talks with you or write down the name of the snippy clerk who waited on you. Or you may think of questions to ask the doctor. Write it down because in the emotion of the moment, you’ll probably forget.
If you need to take something throughout the day, bring it along with a snack if you need to take it with food.
Focus your snacks on protein like raw nuts, peanuts, cheese sticks, whole grain crackers with peanut butter or cheese, raisins and other dried fruit, Lara snack bars or granola bars, apples, Clementines, and grapes. Bring enough to get you through the day in case there are no convenient snack kiosks or cafeterias available. Avoid really salty or sweet snacks because they'll make you feel worse in the long run.
Take at least 1 bottle of water–2 if you're expecting more than 2 hours wait time. In today's world, water fountains can be few and far between.
Cash and Major Credit Card
You may burn through your snacks and water and need to purchase items from a vending machine or tip the valet. Most parking garages and valet service take credit cards so Visa or Master Card will handle that.
Cell Phone and Charging Cable
Many waiting rooms now have charging stations where you can keep your phone, iPad, etc. charged up. Most of them are fast chargers. Just keep an eye on your devices though.
What To Wear
Comfortable clothing. You want something comfortable and loose enough that you can spend 1 to 12 hours in it, probably sitting in an uncomfortable chair. Remember to dress in layers.
Comfortable shoes. Leave the heels and sandals at home. You may do a fair amount of walking. Even if you valet park at the hospital entrance, you’ll still have to walk a distance to the elevators and you’ll walk several long corridors.
Once in the waiting room, you’ll be taken to the pre-op room for some last words with your patient. Then back to the waiting room. Post surgery will find you walking to recovery then to another room after that then back to the waiting room.
At other places, like movie box offices or the Social Security office, you may find yourself standing in really long lines for long wait times until your feet feel as if they're on fire. By the end of the day, you’ll be glad you wore socks and walking shoes.
I've listed this last because it's not something you can actually toss into a backpack, but it's something that will get you through the ordeal of waiting with style and grace.
It will also help out the people you run into during your wait time. Smile. Be friendly. Avoid the easy response of frustration and ill-temper.
No one likes waiting, and no one likes dealing with ill-mannered people who take it out on the employees who meet the public.
Recap of Backpack Contents List
Purse with cash–dollar bills for vending machines–and major credit card
Cell phone, devices, and cables
Travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste
Notebook and Pen
For Your Consideration
If you’re looking for a book to give you a laugh when you’re in a waiting room and feeling tense, consider my romantic comedy, Just One Look, about two doctors in a comedy of errors courtship.
“I loved this book! If you haven’t read JUST ONE LOOK, you’re missing out on a great story. It’s humorous, sexy to the max, and just plain entertaining. ~ Amazon Reviewer
Like the commercial used to say: “Never leave home without it.”
Joan Reeves aka SlingWords: The Word Slinging Adventures of Joan Reeves