Setting Thesaurus Entry: Waiting Room


Tattered magazines, coffee table filled with magazines and travel books, cardboard holders with pamphlets, advertisement posters on the walls, a receptionist's desk, hallway leading to exam rooms, rows of chairs, a toy corner for children (blocks, books, coloring table, trucks), metal chairs with thin-padded seats, a ticket counter & counter clock, clipboards, paperwork, pens, pencils, a computer, file folders, filing cabinets, nurse/people in lab coats or medical scrubs, business card holder with cards, people waiting to see the doctor/dentist/specialist/professional, a wall mounted TV, remote control, box of tissues, sign to the bathroom, a sign reminding people to take their valuables with them, fake plants in the corners or on an end table, waste basket, candy jar at reception, coffee machine (complimentary)


Pages in a magazine flipping, people clicking keys on their cell phones, playing games or texting, low whispers, coughing, throat clearing, heavy breathing, the rustle of clothing, the phone ringing, doors opening and closing, the receptionist calling out a name, staplers, mouse clicking, a cell phone ring going off, the scritch of a pen as you sign your name or fill out forms, the flop of a heavy book as you drop it back onto the table, the squeak of a chair as you rise out of it, heels clicking across the floor, printouts in a printer or fax machine, sneezes, sniffing, gum chewing, children talking to parents, asking questions or expressing boredom, the hiss of air conditioning or heat


Cologne, perfume, hair products, body spray, warm printer/computer/electronics, dust, room deodorizers, cleaning products, cough drops, minty gum, bad breath, hand cream or purel, a bouquet of flowers sitting at reception, wet shoes (if rainy/snowy)


Water, candy from reception, dry throat, cough drops, medicine, gum, mints, complimentary coffee/tea/hot chocolate


Clamping arms on chair grips, crossing, uncrossing legs, a thin padded seat digging at backbone, shifting to get comfortable, getting up to check out magazines on the rack, leaning against the reception counter, digging in wallet or purse for health care cards/insurance info/payments, a pen gripped in the hand, signing forms, shaking the pen to get it to release ink, the dry, papery feel of ruffling through paperwork, warm paper against the fingertips fresh from a copy machine, the crinkly plastic as you open a candy, rolling the neck to loosen a kink, bumping elbows with the person sitting next to you, sorting through magazine choices on a table, pressing down on chair grips to rise up, the back of a chair digging into the palm as you use it to steady yourself to stand or sit, heels bumping metal chair legs, being bumped by purses or bags as someone walks past your chair in a tight space, running hands nervously through hair, fingering at clothing, a cell phone, playing with coat buttons or buckles because of nerves or boredom, pulling on a cold brass door handle, holding out paperwork to the reception personnel, scuffing shoes against the thin carpet or floor tile, tapping or swinging feet as you wait, the slide of a sleeve on the wrist as you raise your arm to check the time on your watch, a folded jacket warm against your arm as you hold it on your lap

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

I recrossed my legs and flipped through the same Woman's World magazine for the tenth time. If I didn't give my hands something to do, they would surly throttle the nurse who was too busy gossiping with her coworker to actually prep the examination room and maybe do something about the increasing wait time.

Example 2:

While Mother was in with the doctor, I snatched glances at the other patients in the waiting room. For some, like the woman with the head scarf concealing her baldness and the man with the tight ball cap pulled low, it was easy to see why they were waiting to see this particular doctor. Other patients broke my heart though, like the little girl whose hands were clenched in a worrying knot and the tiny, elderly man who looked lost and frightened in his flimsy hospital gown. I blinked back tears. Cancer had a lot to answer for.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

Behind her desk, the receptionist noisily worked over a piece of Juicy Fruit like a wrestler laying a beat down on his opponent.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

I eyed the dark brown door of the examination room where the doctor was waiting with my test results and imagined a black hole ready to suck away my future.

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Tara said...

I always think of a fish tank. It seems like almost every waiting room has one.

Marian said...

If it's a waiting room for a laboratory, it probably also has posters/signs reminding people about health issues, or what to do after they've had their blood drawn (e.g. don't carry anything too heavy with that arm for 24 hours).

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, as always, and hope you're not spending too much time in waiting rooms researching!

Penelope Paige said...

Thanks for the entry! ^^ It always seems like every waiting room is exactly the same. X_X The only thing that changes are the information pamphlets. :P

Jm Diaz said...

What a Gem of a blog you have here. I'm oh, so very glad to have come across this! Thank you for posting these items. It never hurts to have a good a reference to convey feelings, without sounding repetitive.

Thanks,and thanks again...

Angela said...

Tara--fish tank! That's a good one.

Marian, I agree posters everywhere, themed to the type of waiting room. Thanks!

PJ, Whenever I'm in a waiting room, I read. :-) So I don't really mind.

Jm, thanks for the props! I'm glad you like the blog--hope to see you often!

Angela said...

Penelope, I agree! Thanks for visiting!!

Deb said...

You know, on this weekend of Thanksgiving...a must add is this blog, Angela. I _love_ it.

Depending on the waiting room...empty juice and tea cups (waiting for chemo), and the tea cups are a variety of china donated by families..

La Fleur said...

How cool is this? We can use a new perspective on how to express a thought, emotion or occurance in our writing. I know that I tend to fall into rut. I get irritated and frustrated, reading the same set up over and over. Thanks so much!

Susan R. Mills said...

I agree with Tara. There is always a fish tank. I wonder why? Do doctor's have some secret fish-loving club that they aren't sharing with the rest of us?


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