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 spotted these two chairs outside an elevator in my oral surgeon’s building. What struck me as odd was why do you need such comfy chairs to wait for the elevator? Actually, why chairs at all? Are the elevators really so slow that you might want to sit down for the minute or so it takes for the doors to open, or did the designers of this building know that it would take far longer? At least there aren’t any magazines on the table. That would bode ill for anyone in a hurry. Is the elevator ride so exhausting that you will have to sit a moment to catch your breath before venturing down the hall to your appointment? It’s only the 5th floor. Someone sat there long enough to drink their water. But for how long? Just another ‘Waiting Room’ mystery.
Waiting with children poses unique challenges. As a rule, they don’t really want to wait for anything; their mantra is usually ‘now’. Most certainly they don’t want to wait for the doctor who may poke them and prod them, put a flat piece of wood in their mouths and make them say “aaahh”, or even worse, stick them with a sharp needle. This well-mannered office provides a child-sized table with some reading material and some games to keep the kiddies occupied. While Jake was in with a new doctor in the office down the hall, I kept myself busy checking out all the other offices in the building. This one was right next door, and seemed worthy of a photo.
In June, we celebrated my wife’s birthday at a very upscale restaurant in Santa Monica with my mother and Jake. At the beginning of the meal, I bit into a piece of olive bread and a pit hidden inside cracked one of my teeth. It was the beginning of a two-year adventure attempting to get compensation for the damage, a story for another time. The very next day, I visited my dentist (the photo on the left) for an evaluation, and waited in one of those chairs. He determined that the damage was so extensive I needed the tooth extracted and an implant put in. He referred me to an oral surgeon (the photo on the right) and I had the surgery a few days later. Six months later I had a titanium insert screwed into my jaw and a shiny new crown. Note how many more patients the surgeon anticipates than the dentist. This is one of the first pictures that has another person in the shot. I also took a photo of the empty room, and the presence of the person lends a different import, so I amended my “rules” to include rooms occupied and unoccupied.
This is the waiting room at the UCLA Santa Monica medical center pictured in the 12 Chairs post. This room was so large, it had 4 or 5 different areas with different decors and furnishings in the same room. There was something about the shapes and arrangement of these chairs that inspired me to shoot a second photo of the same room two months apart. There was an area with a coffee and tea maker, microwave oven, and a soda machine; I guess the powers that be at UCLA knew you might have to camp out for a while when they set up the room. At other times when we visited, there were families with children picnicking at the tables, people working on computers, doing their homework, a regular mecca of activity. This was in the “empty room” phase so I had to work to get a picture without people. We would visit a few more times before Jake decided to abandon the UCLA system in favor of USC. As a former Bruin UES elementary student, I was aghast, but he preferred the doctor.
Waiting with Jake again. He had been complaining about back pain for some time, and had received a diagnosis of a herniated disc. We were at the UCLA medical office in Santa Monica seeking a second opinion at the suggestion of a dear family friend. The idea was to create an integrated care plan through the UCLA system to address the damage to his spine, create an intelligent pain management program, and help with strengthening his core muscles and overall physical condition. As it turned out, he would seek treatment elsewhere, but we visited this waiting room more than once. There are a few photos of this place, it was at the very beginning of what would become the Waiting Room Project, and had a variety of different looks. On other occasions the room would be filled with people, but today, we were the only ones there for our early appointment.
This is the very first photo I took for what would develop into a mild obsession and a multi-year endeavor. I was at the UCLA medical center on Thursday, March 28, 2013, waiting for Jake to finish with a doctor’s appointment, when this chair caught my eye. There was something about the symmetry, the late afternoon light streaming in the window, the angle of the magazine on the table that screamed, “Photograph me!” I had my iPhone and was exploring the Hipstamatic app I had recently installed. This was in native black and white, as would be all of the succeeding photographs. I didn’t think anything of it when I snapped the picture, had no idea of what it would lead to. I just liked the image. It seemed tranquil in an odd way, like a place in which you wouldn’t mind waiting.