The woman appears disheveled. She sits perched on the edge of the waiting room chair, swinging her petite, pajama-clad legs back and forth nervously. She hunches into her over-sized sweatshirt and pulls the hood tighter as if she wants to disappear. Her hands are clasped over her ears to keep out the noise. Anxious eyes dart around when a man takes the seat next to her. After a moment, she walks to the front desk to ask how much longer she has to wait. She’s waited six hours already. She returns, but chooses a new seat.
The family comes in together. The man, who appears to be the one in charge, is dressed neatly in a Green Bay Packer’s sweatshirt and pressed jeans. The younger man wears the uniform of his youth: over-sized shirt hanging over carefully sagging jeans. A sharp pair of Nike’s complete his look. The older woman is obviously the matriarch. The men walk her in, flanking her sides. She walks slowly, but steadily, with their help and her head held high. Two younger women trail behind, huddled together for support. Both of their dark faces glisten with fresh tears. The family gathers together and has a quiet conversation. In moments they dissolve in tears. The men comfort the matriarch as her tears deepen into sobs. The news of an impending death of a 10 year-old family member is too much to handle.
She sits with legs splayed, filling the seat with her bulk. Her gray sweatshirt is stretched tightly across her stomach. Stains show at the armpits. Oblivious to others, she continues her phone conversation. She complains loudly about various problems in her life. An older man brings her a greasy white bag which causes her to finally end the 45 minute conversation. She thanks the man and he leaves. She unwraps the first of two tin foil packages and the smell of cooked onions fills the air. The woman eats with great enthusiasm, licking her glistening fingers after every few bites. A few minutes later she unwraps the second package and consumes the other burger. Flecks of cole slaw dot her lips when she sits back with a satisfied sigh.
The waiting room in a hospital emergency room gives a unique glimpse into life.