In the waiting room

As we get more ancient we spend extended time in waiting rooms, and as I am on Warfarin I spend even more time having regular tests. But hey, the alternative is not much good so will not complain!

This week I had my finger prick test and was sitting in another area waiting to see the doctor. Alongside was a girl with her head in her hands. She was rocking and looked upset, every now and then she sat up and stared at the wall in front.

I was distressed by this, as anyone who cares about others would be. But what could I do? My whole being wanted to put my arms round her and comfort her. But doing that to a stranger, especially in that situation was madness. I could be arrested. Another patient came and went, looked at the girl then ignored her, the nurse went past and said and did nothing. She is a great nurse though, and I know she is usually very compassionate.

The girl leaned forward head almost on her knees. What do you do in this situation? Do you just ignore it, pretend it isn’t happening? Look away, read a book, just play dumb? In the end I gently touched her shoulder, about to offer to fetch her some water. To my horror she jumped in fright, and nearly rose off the chair. I apologised and said I was just offering to get her a drink if she needed it.

She mumbled it was okay and she was sorry she reacted so shocked. I was left feeling foolish, yet I suppose in similar situation I would do the same. As I left the girl was still distressed; she was due to see the doctor after me. It leaves you wondering about what had made her so desperate. I will never know. That isn’t the important thing. It just left me pondering are we becoming too blasé about misery, and unhappiness in others?

Ad. Article continues below.

I try not to ignore a true cry for help, and will do all I can to give what I can – it may only be my time, if not money. I have shared my food, bedding and other things with friends in need. But I have been given ten times more, by friends who are in a better position and have helped me. Bless them for their kindness. I am a lucky recipient of the wardrobe excesses of a friend who has more than she can ever wear. I gratefully accept and enjoy wearing a new cardigan or dress.

We should all try to make life easier if we know we can do something, which is why it so hard when you can do nothing.

How do you react to these situations? Have you comforted a stranger? What is your reaction when you see someone you don’t know who is upset?