Getting a job is like sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room. Forms are filled. Time ticks. You
wait for the nurse’s call, but it seldom comes early. Communication is stifled. You find a seat.
People pass in and out. Restlessness pays you a visit. Small talk is made. Your day is slowly
consumed. Some have been waiting longer than you, others catch a lucky break and get seen
early. These are the two fates of the waiting room. Oftentimes there is little reason for which
fate you face. Most times the doctor is not busy enough to justify such a long wait.
An early entrance to the doctor’s office is like stumbling upon an empty TSA line, receiving $50s
instead of $20s from an ATM (that happened to my mom once), or – for the college students
out there – realizing that you have successfully paid off your credit card expenses for three
months in a row. It’s a big deal. You have been spared, your mental wellness is intact. It means
your visit will take you how long it should take you, which is cause for celebration. Navigate the
co-pay paperwork and you have a one-way ticket to another year of freedom. Now the world is
your oyster, your day is not squandered.
The waiting room changes people. While little Johnny hocks up a lung in the corner of the room
and a number of mothers, who arrived before you did, hypnotically stare at the linoleum tiles,
you wonder how you got here. Can’t I live without this prescription? Could I forge my own
physical? Will my family ever see me again? After hour one in the room, you have done all the
productive things you could ever do on your phone and have denied peeing twice in hope of a
soon-to-come need for a urine sample. In a bout of self-awareness, you put the phone down
and thumb through magazines you wouldn’t normally read – Entertainment Weekly, O,
Smithsonian, and Veranda. Hour two has you wondering if your forms were properly filled out.
You rise to inquire with the receptionist, who assures you that your forms are fine and the
doctor is simply busy. Busy. Busy. Busy? This is the first sign of delirium. You take your seat,
only before procuring a few new magazines, and are temporarily mesmerized with the sick child
playing with tinker-toys. Little Johnny is still coughing. You begin to read - Motor Trend,
Working Mother, Midwest Living, and Popular Science. Finally, you get up to pee. A battle has
God forbid you reach hour three and beyond, which is filled with intense self-reflection,
downloading e-books, accepting a piece of gum from the man two seats away, re-reading
magazines, taking a defeated trip to the car, trying meditation for the first time, and
brainstorming better ways to do medical care. Thankfully, most are spared from this trying
experience. For those who were not, I salute you.
When the nurse calls your name, there is always a slight delay in response. You look down to
see if your invisible name tag matches the name dictated, waiting for your tired brain to
process what has happened. They match. This is your time. You arise from your waiting room
chair, coyly eye those who acknowledge you, and thank the nurse who grants you passage door
into the celestial doctor’s office. What follows is an exciting blur. Soon, your life will be restored
and you will be on your way home.
Getting a job is like sitting in a waiting room. As you wait for someone, anyone, to call your
name, you find entertainment, boredom, silence, and fear like you never have before. I have
been in this waiting room for almost two months. Luckily, some of my friends are waiting with
me, but I can’t help feeling alone through it all. In this individual pursuit of ‘purpose,’ my pride
is damaged, entitlement is deteriorating, and motives are in-check. I have learned that patience
and persistence, willingness and obedience are important qualities to implement. I have found
that my desires for a job were rather unhealthy, thinking that my life was somehow incomplete
without it. I have realized that ‘purpose’ comes in the same package to those in and out of the
waiting room – loving people is the key to stewarding our time well.
The waiting room is not a place for apathy, diffidence, or self-pity – it is a time for action. There
is no time to writhe in playing the victim. Praising God in the waiting room means recognizing
that his keeping you from something is a necessary and productive measure to realign your
priorities. It means loving those around you, offering encouragement, listening, affirming,
validating, pursuing, and treating people like the image-bearers they are. It means thanking
God for his past provision, trusting he will provide for the future. It means asking for a willing
spirit to sustain you. Wanting a job is not sinful; a desire to work is natural. But placing a job as
the ultimate means to obtain purpose is absolute profanity. This is what I have learned in the
waiting room. This has been my last few months: intense self-reflection and extended periods
of silence. I do not wish to take back this time, but I do wish it could end soon. Regardless, I
plan to praise God in this waiting room, stewarding my time well by sincerely loving people. It’s
the only purpose I will ever have.
SLF Class of 18-19
Salt Lake Fellows Collaborative