June 16, 2010

Noise

Raising four kids has meant spending lots of time in waiting rooms. When my kids were little, I’d come up with ways to entertain them, like sending them searching through the outdated magazines at the dentist’s office on a photo scavenger hunt, or showing them how to spin paper cups on wooden tongue depressors at the doctor’s. I’d take a rubber glove and blow it into a balloon so they we could bat it back and forth. I never remembered to pack toys — heck, in those days I was so sleep-deprived that I was lucky if I remembered where the doctor's office was.

As the kids got older, we’d bring books or journals, and I enjoyed the quiet time in the waiting room. During the years when all my kids were taking music lessons every week, I used those weekly thirty-minute time slots to write. Waiting rooms are terrific places for writing because there are so few distractions. You'd be surprised at how much you can write in 30 minutes when all methods of procrastination have been removed.

Now that three of my kids can drive, I don’t spend much time in waiting rooms any more. Shaggy Hair Boy usually takes With-a-Why to his Friday piano lesson, and all four kids have long since had their braces off. I'm past the stage where I'm always pregnant so I only see the doctor when I break a bone or something. But today, With-a-Why had a dentist appointment, and I packed my laptop to bring with me. I was looking forward to a quiet half hour in the waiting room, an enforced time to write.

But alas, the waiting room, like all good things, had changed. A big, flat-screen television dominated the room. It was turned on, and the volume cranked up. I couldn’t get away from the blaring noise. These floating heads kept talking, talking, talking. It was horrible.  I couldn’t think, no less write.

Writing in a music studio with lovely, classical piano music playing on the other side of a wall is one thing. Trying to write under the loud blare of journalists talking about the oil leak and flashing horrific images is quite another.

14 comments:

Artist Friend said...

I hear you, sister. I will survey the room, and if someone is actively watching, then you just have to endure it. As soon as no one is tuned in, then I walk right up and turn the TV off. With a comment if need be like, "Horrible godawful noise, isn't it?" No one yet has ever argued, or turned it back on.

Rana said...

I HATE televisions in waiting rooms. Having them on in hospital emergency waiting rooms is especially bad - it's a time when people really don't want or need talking heads yattering away. No one watches it; everyone just sits there enduring, anxiously waiting to hear something about the person they brought in.

Krazy Kitty said...

My university's student health center has a TV perpetually on, on some sort of supposedly health channel. The programming seems to be made mostly of dieting tricks, judgmental stories on obese kids, and adverts for sexual dysfunction (or, possibly, anti-cholesterol) pills. By the time I get to have my blood pressure taken, I'm always surprised it's not higher from having to endure this nonsensical blathering.

landismom said...

I can't stand the constant blaring of the TV at my doctor's office. If my mechanic can have a "quiet room" for people who are doing work while waiting for their cars to be repaired, why can't my doctor?

liz said...

Think Geek has a gizmo that will turn off any of thousands of different kinds of televisions.

Just sayin'.

jo(e) said...

Seriously? I need one of those devices. I'm too short to reach the one in the dentist's office -- it's suspended from the ceiling.

Terminal Degree said...

I have one of those gizmos from Think Geek. It doesn't work on all TVs, but it worked in my old doctor's office.

When I am the only person in the waiting room, or when it's clear that no one else is listening, I ask the receptionist to turn it down.

I also keep custom-made earplugs in my purse at all times. It's lovely to be able to turn down the volume on life by 15 decibels (at the movies, at football games, at concerts, and yes, at the doctor's office).

Magpie said...

I always want to turn those TVs off. Maybe I need one of those Think Geek things...

sherry said...

As a doctor and someone who lives in the area of the oil gusher, (I refuse to call that much oil escaping from the bowels of the earth a leak), there is only medical harm to be had from having a TV in the waiting room blaring the horrible news and we do not have a TV anywhere in the office.

I often wonder how much money could be saved on the hospital electric bill if all of the TVs were turned off.

sherry said...

Oh, and you could always ask if there is a more quiet place to wait. I have a private place just for sleeping babies and nursing moms.

kim said...

I live on an island in the south pacific, in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The ferry just installed heaps of tvs. Passengers now stare at a screen instead of starting a conversation or looking out the window...

stf said...

our son had a long-ish wait at the a&e tonight

"at least the (world cup) football was on mum"

thankful for his girlfriend who took him and waited with him too

and to God that he was actually ok :)

Addy N. said...

I know- they're so annoying! I try to work in the orthodontist waiting room sometimes. They don't have a TV, but the radio is turned on so loud that I can't focus. I guess noise canceling head phones might help, but ugh!

Phil said...

Have you ever been stranded and tried to sleep in an airport? Same thing - CNN 24-7, plus timed PA announcements every 5 minutes.