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.
While we’re on the subject of airport car rental centers, the award for the most massive goes to Fort Lauderdale. This multi-story monster houses thousands of cars and every major (and minor) car rental agency in the country. It is “off-site” in that you need to ride a bus from the terminal to get there, and there are two floors of waiting areas bordered by a huge open atrium. It just goes on and on and on. All the cars sleep quietly in the garage behind the endlessly curving waiting area with its gleaming terrazzo floors and chrome stanchions. You pick your car and go.
We traveled recently to visit T’s mom and sisters to celebrate her birthday and arrived at night. The whole building is a bit disorienting, especially after a 5-hour flight.Fortunately, it was largely deserted, adding to the surreality. An enormous space with maybe half a dozen people. I hate to think what this place must be like when it’s busy. We found the perfect vehicle, fired it up and wound our way down the spiral ramp that connects the 5 or so floors of the parking garage. Out to the highway and the half-hour drive into Miami Beach. Easy peasy.
Last year I travelled to North Carolina for my niece’s wedding. I flew into Charlotte and picked up a car at the airport. The cavernous waiting area serves all the rental car companies in the common building directly across from the terminal. I think I went with Dollar. I had my car and was on my way to Boone, NC in a matter of a few minutes. The recent trend of having all the car rental companies under one roof produces giant structures that house the waiting areas as well as the garages for all the cars. I guess it is more efficient than having each company have its one lot and service center, but these gigantic rooms can be a bit disorienting at times. Like when you get off your plane after a 5-hour flight and still don’t really know what time zone you are in.
Luckily, it wasn’t too bad, the drive north was through beautiful country and I arrived safely. The wedding was lovely, I had a chance to sample some of the local barbecue on my way back to the airport, and I found myself returning my car to this very same building in a couple of days. All in all, a whirlwind trip to the North Carolina mountain country.
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.
Waiting is a transitory activity. While you are in the waiting room, you look for things to help pass the time. Magazines, your iPhone, conversation, meditation. Whatever you find to do, it isn’t really why you are there. Wouldn’t you rather be sitting on your couch reading National Geographic? Sitting at your desk checking your emails? But no, you are here filling the minutes, trying to turn that non-time into something vaguely productive. How long you will remain is a fluid interval. It might be five minutes. It might be half an hour. I once waited for a doctor for more than an hour. And that was before the iPhone.
Finally, your name is called and you leave the limbo of waiting for whatever it is you have been waiting for. Here, one lucky soul has escaped and is on his way to fulfillment. Others here aren’t so fortunate.
The Disney Hall in Downtown LA is an architectural marvel. Designed by Frank Gehry, the building has become an icon of public architecture. The exterior, with its sweeps of gleaming metal, has its inspiration in Gehry’s love of sailing. The interior is no less dramatic, and the auditorium is an intimate space where the audience surrounds the orchestra. We were there to see a rehearsal compliments of my mother, who is a patron of several arts. Part of her support of the L.A. Philharmonic includes an invitation to attend selected rehearsals of the orchestra. She was unable to attend this one, so we went in her stead.
If you come late for a concert, you have to wait in one of these lounges scattered throughout the hall and wait for a suitable break in the performance before you can be seated. The TV is actually a closed circuit monitor so you can watch the show while you wait. This guy wasn’t waiting for that, he just needed a place to sit to check his laptop.
We were on one of our escapes to Ojai in the Summer of 2014. I was there for my birthday and Father’s Day. Occasionally the two dates coincide as they did that year. Along with our usual routine, we visited L., a long time friend who happened to be staying at the Ojai Valley Inn for the weekend. The OVI is a lovely, old school hotel with beautifully kept grounds, a spa, and golf course. We were there on Monday, and the emotions of the weekend were still so close to the surface.
We took a walk with L to see the magnificent herb garden and passed by the first tee. There was something so tranquil about the scene. Shade on a hot day, the uncrowded golf course. The anticipation of the first drive to begin a memorable round. You can spend a lot of time waiting on a golf course, there are usually benches at every tee. Today, it didn’t look like anyone would be waiting for very long.
Golf was one of the things Jake and I did together for most of his life. After he died, I could barely look at a golf course without bursting into tears. It took me nearly a year before I could play again. I stopped to photograph this bench and cast a longing look back, remembering all the wonderful rounds we played together.
Last March I visited my cousin in Phoenix. She takes care of her aging mother and her daughter who just graduated high school and her son who attends ASU. While I was there, B, her mother wanted to go for a drive. The Rock Springs Cafe is about 30 miles north of Scottsdale and is renowned for pie. So we all piled into the car for the half-hour drive.
While this is not intended to be a review of the Rock Springs Cafe, let me just say, the “world famous” pie was underwhelming, as was all the food. We make better pie at home. Way better. The place was jammed, however, and the waiting crowd spilled out into the packed parking lot. It seemed like the clientele were mostly travelers. There were scores of RV’s of every size and scads of families with strings of children in tow making their way across the blazingly hot tarmac. It’s amazing what a little good press will do for mediocre food.
While I was waiting, I noticed this semi-professional waiter passing the time until he could get to the burgers and pie.
This photo appeared on my friend W’s Facebook page a few weeks ago. He is an accomplished photographer as you can see from the dynamic composition and critical framing. Knowing my penchant for waiting room photos, he tagged me in the post. I think it is a great shot, and in fact, it gave me inspiration to begin photographing myself in the waiting room situations. Stay tuned for some of these selfeets, coming soon.
All these images are from the St. John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica. Most of them were taken during a visit there in January of 2015. As previously noted, hospitals are rife with waiting areas of all sizes and comfort levels, and varying degrees of aesthetic value. I think the top left is my favorite. It perfectly encapsulates the essence of what is it to wait.