Friday, February 27, 2009

"It's always darkest just before it goes pitch black."

If you read here regularly...and if not, you really need to ask yourself why not for heavens sake! might remember that some weeks ago I wrote a wee post about my trip to the Goodyear dealer to get a repair done on my car. As fascinating as my car repairs are, no doubt, the point of the post was how happy I was, as I sat there waiting, to see my two fellow customers take books out and start to read. Real books too, not a magazine or a newspaper, but actual books. It did my heart good.

Well, time to come down off the mountain. My joy has been squashed. I am in despair.

This week I had to go to get blood work done, a task that always involves a goodly amount of waiting. I have gone very early, I have gone later...I always wait. You arrive and sign in and sit in the waiting area, filled with about 25 other folks. In about 30 minutes they call you to come up and give them your paper work, show 14 kinds of ID, answer a large number of questions and then direct you to sit down again and wait until you are called, to be taken back for the actual blood letting.

So, there I sat with my 25 fellow victims. A perfect occasion to do what, my dear readers? Of course! READ! But as I took a quick glance...and then a long look in disbelief, at all of these people, only I and 2 others were reading. Only three of us sat down and look a nice book out of our bags or pockets or briefcases.
Some were staring at a TV up on the wall, blaring out some Morning Show. Many were just sitting there, doing nothing. Nothing!

Is it an age thing? We at the lab tend to be a little older that the general population, but actually I would think that would make us more likely readers, not less.
Low blood sugar due to fasting? Fear at having a needle stuck in their arm? The bland, sterile waiting area. The appeal of those wonderful morning talk shows. No, I think not. The Goodyear waiting area was no more cozy, the TV there just as annoying, the fear of our car repair bills as overwhelming as a little vile of the red stuff.

No, I fear Goodyear and our 100% reading rate was a fluke. The 10% of LabCorp the truth of the American reading situation. That is the reality; the majority of people would rather stare into nothingness than lose themselves in a nice little book.

And if that is not depressing enough, let me share this idea about blogging, from our friends at, a wonderful source of snarky, sarcastic posters, mugs, shirts, stationary and other useless things, available for purchase. "It began with one man's dream. A dream of the perfectly-realized American company. A company that would create dissatisfied customers in the process of exploiting demoralized employees while selling overpriced and ineffective products to remediate the problems caused by the very process itself."


  1. You are so right...good observations. I really don't know what I'd do without books. I pull them out all the time and kill time that way. Books are the most portable kind of entertainment there is.

    Of course, not to use the old when-I-was-that-age thing, but really, we never had video games, cable, internet....either it wasn't available or my folks couldn't afford it. We had books. Perhaps reading is more of a habit than anything else?

  2. No, reading is an objectively wonderful thing! ;-)

  3. No matter where I'm waiting I rarely see people reading. It bums me out too!

  4. Caite, you are right on the mark with this one. I had my annual physical today, which requires hours and loads of patience, and a good book (in my case, Gone With the Wind did just fine). Of the thirty or so people in the waiting room, nobody had books but little 'ol me. Shameful.

  5. I think Michele is right on that reading is a habit, and it's one that very few people cultivate or encourage. I feel sad about this every time I fly, but the worst was when I sat next to a man who literally did nothing for an entire three hour flight. He didn't read. He didn't watch the movie. He didn't listen to music. He didn't sleep. He didn't even flip through the freaking in-flight magazine or the safety flyer, for Pete's sake! Seriously! What is that all about?

  6. Sometimes I'm embarrassed that I always have something to read with me. Like, I should be more Zen and just enjoy the moment.

    And sometimes when I'm visiting with a friend I'm a little irritated that I can't read and chat at the same time. That's where knitting comes in handy.

  7. Maybe I am just not Zen enough...but to do nothing?? Which is what, like your buddy on the plane Rebecca, or your fellow waiters in the waiting room Sandy, is what they were doing.

    Ali...there is nothing to be embarrassed about! The moment isn't that good!! Not as good as a good book!! lol

  8. I almost always have something to read with me- it's a habit I can't shake and I don't want to!
    And you gotta love Really, really funny stuff.

  9. so right, so right Marie. And if by a terrible error I forgot to bring something, I would go off in search of pamphlets or...something. Actually, of course, I always have something extra in my car. A book, a magazine, something!

  10. The only problem,so to speak, of reading in a waiting room (well, this seems to always happen when Im there) is there are people who bring someone with them for the express purpose of talking about the most inane stuff and of course they are the people who talk about 5 decibels above normal. The tv in my Dr's office is set to the health channel or whatever it is and the same item runs about every 10 minutes. I guess it is my old age, because noise seems to bother me more than ever before. I just want to read my book in peach and quiet. Is that too much to ask, people. No one cares that she brewed the coffee too strong this morning and now you have heartburn and no I don't think deciding what day to go get the fertilizer needs a 20 minute discussion. Sheeesh!

  11. Yes Kaye, that is a very valid point. For example, there was one lady waiting with the other 23 of us who must have gotten 5 phone calls while we were both there. First, she had a very loud ring tone, she did not answer it for like 10 rings and then when she answered it, she spoke very loudly. Pretty much telling everyone she knew about why she was at the lab. uuuugh...

  12. This was amusing but all too true. You just don't see enough people reading in waiting rooms anymore! I'm the type that is always checking out other people's books so I do tend to check things out like this and you don't see too many. About the only place I see a lot of people reading at once is on airplanes!

  13. See, I usually never read on planes. Maybe I am a little anxious and therefore can't concentrate.. even less than usual. But I prefer to listen to music and maybe nap.

  14. I must comment on this topic as I do have the opposite opinion of my Sister in law, Caite. I love to read and do so every day but when I am in waiting rooms I am usually the person you will see doing absolutely nothing!! I love the time spent doing nothing. I call it floating. Its a good time to ponder and relax! How often in an average day do you have an opportunity to just sit, think and observe whats going on around you? Not often I would venture to guess! I also find that trying to read in such a distracting environment as a waiting room takes away the true enjoyment in reading so I would rather save my book for my quiet time at home to enjoy it fully. I will just continue to "float" in the waiting rooms!!

  15. sister-in-law likes to 'float'. So perhaps I am wrong and all those people in the waiting room were not doing nothing, no they were floating...pondering...relaxing.
    Personally, I think that is donkey dust...because I think that my Sil's ability to float is unique, but I am big enough to admilt I might be wrong.


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