Here’s another guest photo from one of our regular contributors. I don’t have the story of why she was at the Mental Health Center, she is one of the mentally healthiest people I know. Maybe she was waiting for a friend. Notice how the fence outside the window is set up to keep people in. Hmmm.
Having other folks send me photos brings new perspectives to the Project that I truly appreciate. Thus far we have 6 outside contributors and are always looking for more. Please email me via the link with your shots of waiting, or if you have any philosophical commentary on waiting or any of the photos, please feel free to leave a comment. The Waiting Room Project belongs to all of us. Remember, “They also serve who only stand (or sit) and wait.”
I have participated in a few marketing research surveys over the years. Typically, you take a pre-survey to see if you qualify and if you do, you are invited to participate. They usually involve a new product or re-branding of an old one, and you sit in a group from one to 20 and give your ‘input’. The products range from hard drives to healthcare, baby products to beverages. For your time, you are compensated with cash, a check, or lately a gift card. It is an easy gig, I’m pretty opinionated; I wish I could do it at least once a week.
This survey mandated that I bring a friend to participate or I couldn’t qualify. So the two of us trekked to the offices of this company in the Marina. Spacious, well-lit, this company provides conference rooms with audio-visual capabilities, everything is taped, huge wall to wall one-way mirrors behind which sit the faceless minions observing, taking notes or whatever faceless minions do while the public is offering its opinions, and cheerful interviewers. The ‘sponsor’ or client whose product we are evaluating is rarely present, but it’s impossible to know who is sitting in those darkened rooms behind the glass.
This interview lasted a little over half an hour, and my friend and I departed a little richer for simply giving our reactions to a series of slides with graphic designs. That’s all I can say, there is always an NDA involved. I have never seen more than one or two people in the spacious waiting room. This day, there were two folks sitting around the corner, but I especially liked the perspective of this hallway.
This is what was my local bank. I did business with Bank of America for many years with my former business. Originally, we used a BofA that was across the street from our accountant in Westchester and had a spectacular personal banker there named Ellen. She took great care of us and our business accounts. BofA has a lot of regulations surrounding its business accounts, someone once characterized it as a law firm that accepted deposits, but Ellen always managed to make it easy for us. But it was a schlep for me to deposit the checks in Westchester, so I mostly used the ATM at my local branch on the Venice traffic circle. Ellen retired and we changed accountants around the same time so I officially moved our accounts to this branch.
We had a couple of personal accounts there as well. Jake had one and we used our account to transfer money to him occasionally. We never kept much money in there, we don’t use BofA for our primary personal banking.
I”m not quite sure why I was in this bank last year, perhaps to finally close our last remaining accounts. While the lobby isn’t exactly completely empty, it isn’t exactly bustling with activity either. This photo captures two distinct waiting areas and not a customer in sight.
The Santa Monica Sears and Roebuck has been on the corner of Colorado and 4th street for as long as I can remember. It used to span 4th street, with the Automotive center on the east side and the main building on the west. There is a little booth at the top of the building where a parking attendant used to sit and direct cars to the vacant spots. In its heyday, Sears was the place, the store was modern and you could get most anything there.
Not much of that glory has faded. The automotive center was demolished to make room for the Santa Monica terminal of the newly extended Expo line, the parking guy in the sky is long gone, and the whole store seems a worn and a little seedy. I still like going there for the Craftsman tools in the basement, but little else.
Now Land’s End has an outpost in the store itself, and I was there getting some Dockers Khakis, the only brand that actually fits me. I had ordered them online, and while I was waiting for someone to fetch them, I browsed the shirt section just to kill the time. They had the well-made pique polos on sale so I got a few. After completing the sale, I was directed to this string of chairs. If you order online for in-store pickup, this is where you will wait while they fetch your merchandise. It was only a few moments before a courteous employee emerged from the stainless steel clad door with my pants, sealed in a plastic bag and tagged with my order info. Fairly painless, the pants were on sale online, and I didn’t have to pay for shipping. Such a deal.
Here we are in another doctor’s office. This one is an ambulatory surgery center in Santa Monica. I was there for a minor procedure to ease the pain in my arthritic hips. They inject an anesthetic and a steroid to reduce the inflammation. I have had a few of these treatments, but sadly, they are only marginally effective, and last but a few months. The curative treatment is complete hip replacement.
The surgery center’s waiting room is a bright airy space with polished wood floors and an abundance of reading material. In fact, the header photograph for the Waiting Room Project main page is the reverse view of this room. Note the figure emerging from the elevator in the background.
The treatments went well, but I have now progressed to the point where I will have my first hip replacement this Monday. While I can’t promise anything, I will do my best to shoot at least one photo before I go in for the operation.
Doesn’t this look like a lovely living room? All that’s missing is a fireplace and some floor lamps. Well, it’s a primary waiting room in a hospital. Look at all the reading material, the TV, the comfy couches and chairs. There is even free wi-fi. Yep, you’re going to be here a while.
We were there for a minor medical issue, and I had the chance to prowl around looking for waiting areas to photograph. We were there at night, so the usually bustling hospital had the lonely deserted air most do when the crowds of people leave. Hospitals have been some of the most productive places in this project because of the abundance of waiting spaces, large, medium, and small. As previously noted, there is a lot of waiting surrounding the medical profession. Too many sick people and not enough doctors.
Through no desire of our own, we are home to three cats. A mother and two sons. One December afternoon, five years ago, the mother, a small black cat, showed up on our back deck meowing ferociously. We lasted three days before capitulating and letting her in. Somehow, she had chosen us as her new family. We named her Lola. The night before we were going to take her to be spayed, she disappeared and returned three days later pregnant. Two months later, she gave birth to a litter of 4 kittens in our bedroom closet.
We were able to find homes for two of them, but as they grew out of kittenhood, and couldn’t find anyone who wanted an adolescent cat, we discovered we had created a cat family, mother and two sons. The Katzes. From zero to three in just under five months.
This is our vet, Dr. Dean’s waiting room. We were there getting regular shots for two of the three Katzes. T met him through her orchid society. She grows the most beautiful cymbidiums, cattleya, and dendrobium orchids in our back yard. For a time, she went to regular meetings where she met Dr. Dean. He is a caring and knowledgeable vet, and he takes care of our Katzes with compassion and skill. If you need a good vet in Culver City, let me know and I’ll pass on his info.
This is a picture that my friend L. sent from New York City. I don’t have any other information other than the Waiting Room Project has another active member. Thank you. Please feel free to send your pictures of waiting spaces with any notes or observations you may have. With your permission, I will share them here.
I visit my dermatologist about once a year. I have a lot of moles and occasionally one begins to look suspicious, so it’s off to the skin doctor. She carves the offending spot out and sends it off for analysis. So far, everything comes back negative or “pre cancerous”. I’m still not clear on what that means, but she always smiles at me and says to come back when I have grown something new for her.
Most of her business is cosmetic, I suspect, due to all the beauty magazines, and Botox brochures in her waiting room. The staff is extremely friendly and conciliatory, offering tea to all the patients while they wait. This photo of her waiting room always reminds me of a space ship for some reason. I don’t know why, but it does.
I received this photo in my email today from a friend. A talented Director of Photography I have known for years. It speaks for itself. I didn’t convert into black and white because I love the 70’s avocado green of the couch. He didn’t send any other information along with the picture.
It has always been my hope that others begin to participate in the Waiting Room Project, that’s why I call it a project – an ongoing documentation of these ‘non-places’ and by extension, the documentation of our lives.
Thank you Marty, you are the very first guest poster. I have had others send me photos and I will scour my emails to find them and share.