With the exception of an elderly couple, and a young couple with a toddler, I think everyone in the X-Ray waiting room, other than me, was staring at their phone.
It was the “please take a number” system, and I lucked out by having mine called about two minutes after I sat down. It was, however, just a preliminary registration, and you still had to wait for your attendant to call you in.
To pass the time, I normally just people watch, hopefully without being too obtrusive. If someone makes eye contact (increasingly unlikely these days), I smile and say a couple of pleasantries, perhaps remarking on their cute baby. Today, there was silence, except for the old man and woman speaking in low tones, and the woman behind the desk, who would call out every few minutes “number eighteen? Is there a number eighteen?” After the third or fourth repetition of this, I suggested she could take a coffee break.
A man and woman walked in with a seven or eight year old boy. They sat down without taking a number. The boy amused himself by picking up books, dropping them on the floor, running around the room , trying on another kid’s hat, and…..you get the picture. His parents sat looking at their phones, and finally, after some glances of displeasure from across the room, the dad grabbed him by the arm, shook him, yelled at him, and plunked him down in a chair, whereupon he started to wail. “Number eighteen, number eighteen?” sounded again, and they realized they needed to get up and grab the ticket.
The young couple with the toddler, who was remarkably well behaved, had him sit on his Mom’s knee, and she began to read quietly to him, from a Dr. Seuss book. She made each character come alive, and her child was in rapt attention, his glance going from the book, to his mother’s eyes, and back. It struck me that this scene made a little tableau that was like something out of a Christmas card, or a child’s storybook. I was so taken, that the woman looked up and caught me staring. I reddened a little, and smiled. She smiled back, and continued with the reading.
I am nothing if not a sentimentalist, and this seemingly blissful family brought me back to the days when I used to read or sing my own children to sleep, and I thought “if they remember nothing else, I hope at least that they remember that.”
Lee Dunn has been writing since the age of 18, but found that work got in the way for the ensuing 48 years. In his home town of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, he reveled in his independence at an early age, and spent as much time as he could exploring the city’s Arts scene. He was introduced to poetry and prose by the works of two literary giants, namely J.R.R. Tolkien and J.W. Lennon and thence fell in love with the written word. His work includes poetry, short fiction, and personal essays, and ranges in theme from the surreal to the horrific, nostalgic, and themes on the human condition. He has been published on Spillwords.com, The Dark Poets Club, Journal of Undiscovered Poets, Crepe & Penn Literary magazine, and the Shelburne Free Press.