Surgery waiting room clocks move very slowly.
Pages in the books people brought with them are read over and over again without the reader ever knowing what it is they read. Magazines are picked up and put down again without being opened. Windows are looked out of without the view outside ever being seen.
And, the clock hardly moves.
If fish could be described as pacing back and forth, that is what the angelfish in the oversized aquarium appear to be doing. People sit in one chair, get up, walk around and sit in another chair, as if that one will bring them better results. Bathrooms are entered and exited and the faces reflected in the mirrors within look more worried than the person looking at the reflection had hoped to see.
And, the clock has barely moved.
Hands that are seldom held are being held by friends and family. Hugs that are seldom shared are being freely distributed. Vending machines are being stared at for minutes at a time, but items are seldom purchased.
And, the clock remains the same.
Each new person that enters the room attracts every eyeball wondering if that person’s loved one is in better or worse shape than the one they are waiting on. Then, the eyes return to the page that has been read fifty times; the magazine that remains unopened; or the window that looks out to an unseen scene. Cell phones ring. Strangers learn the story of other strangers through one sided phone conversations.
And, the clock appears to have stalled.
As surgeons enter the room, everyone listens for their name to be called. You watch other families converse with the doctor, gather their belongings and relocate to other rooms with slow moving clocks.
Once you hear your name, your anxiety heightens and you learn the status of your loved one. You gather your belongings to sit vigil by your patient’s side to be there when they awake. Upon leaving the room, you glance one last time at the waiting room clock and notice it has skipped ahead seven hours.
You leave the few remaining anxious strangers behind and hope to never have to see that surgery waiting room clock ever again.