Printed from:

Welcome to Columbia Magazine  

Carol Perkins: Socializing in the waiting room

Previous Column: Basketball dreams

By Carol Perkins

A trip to a doctor is often a social event. I based this on waiting room conversations I hear among strangers. Sitting beside patients in a crowded room lends itself to getting acquainted. Half the time they will know people who know the same people you know. I admit to engaging in these conversations to be polite, but I am usually not the instigator. On one particular day a few months ago, I was guilty of speaking too soon.

My mom goes to a doctor every six weeks for an injection in her eye. So does half of South Central Kentucky! On our first trip, the nurse took her to the first stop (room), then was moved to another room to wait for another room, then moved back into a line of patients to wait for the final room. The last wait is the longest.

Having never been before, I did not understand why the man next to me had a green dot (like those you mark prices at a yard sale) over his left eye. I didn't know him but thought I'd be a good neighbor. I reached toward it, thinking the nurse had forgotten to take it off, and said, "They (whoever they were) left a green dot on your forehead." Almost before he could explain, I was going to remove it, being the helpful citizen that I am.

"Oh, don't take that off. That tells the doctor in which eye I need the shot." In a few minutes, my mother came out of station two (second stop) with a green dot over her right eye. I surveyed the dozens of patients waiting on both sides of the hallway and all had green dots at various locations on their forehead. This was a weird situation. The lesson I learned was to mind my own business. These green dots have become an ordinary sight after the last six visits.

Another interesting revelation while waiting in doctor's offices is what you learn about total strangers without asking. In another office in a city (the wait for this specialist is long, and some knit booties during that time), a very nice lady and I began to talk. She had brought her sister for an appointment. The conversation led to her work (she was retired from a job she hated), her "sorry" husband who cheated on her, her son who was in jail up for something he didn't do, her meth-addicted granddaughter who wasn't fit to raise her child, and how she had tried to help all of them (except her husband). This was not an episode of the Waltons for sure. At first, I thought she had to be making this up, but I don't think she was.

I decided this lady needed to lessen her burden, so she gave some away to me. When the nurse called my name, I was grateful. When I came out, she was still waiting for her sister and talking to someone else. I bet she told the same story. You never knew what you'll learn in a doctor's office that has nothing to do with illness or medicine.

Follow Susan and Carol-Unscripted on 99.1 the Hoss in Edmonton on Tuesdays from 10amCT to 11amCT and replay on Sundays from 4pmCT to 5pmCT. Listen to Carol's podcast at for entertaining stories and a replay of Susan and Carol-Unscripted.

This story was posted on 2020-01-31 05:31:18
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.


Quick Links to Popular Features

Looking for a story or picture?
Try our Photo Archive or our Stories Archive for all the information that's appeared on


Contact us: Columbia Magazine and are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.
Phone: 270.403.0017

Please use our contact page, or send questions about technical issues with this site to All logos and trademarks used on this site are property of their respective owners. All comments remain the property and responsibility of their posters, all articles and photos remain the property of their creators, and all the rest is copyright 1995-Present by Columbia! Magazine and D'Zine, Ltd. Privacy policy: use of this site requires no sharing of information. Voluntarily shared information may be published and made available to the public on this site and/or stored electronically. Anonymous submissions will be subject to additional verification. Cookies are not required to use our site. However, if you have cookies enabled in your web browser, some of our advertisers may use cookies for interest-based advertising across multiple domains. For more information about third-party advertising, visit the NAI web privacy site.