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The Whine Cellar

By BEN R. WILLIAMS
A couple of months ago, my dad had laser eye surgery. To be clear, this is a surgery where they use a laser to fix your eyes, not a surgery that gives you laser eyes, although the second one would be a lot cooler.
The surgery took place in Lynchburg, and since it’s not recommended that you drive immediately after having a laser pointed at your eyeballs, I took the day off to drive my dad to and from his surgery.
We sat in the waiting room cracking jokes for a bit before my dad was called back to see the doctor. After he left, I surveyed the scene in the waiting room. It was pretty nice. The chairs were comfortable, and there was a little Keurig coffee machine. I fixed myself a cup of coffee, settled into a comfortable chair, and started reading the new Stephen King book.
I don’t mind waiting rooms. When you have a lot of responsibilities, it’s kind of nice to be in a place where the only thing you have to do is sit back, hang out and take it easy. It’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but there are worse ways to spend a couple of hours.
Unfortunately, the other people in the waiting room did not feel the same way.
There were seven other people in the waiting room, all of them substantially older than me. Although we entered the waiting room as strangers, by the time I left, I felt like I knew them all. Or at least I knew they were all miserable and angry.
“Ughhhhhh, my back,” one guy said. He said this every two or three minutes, just in case anyone in the waiting room was unaware that his back hurt. I would forgive the constant back updates if we were in an emergency room, but considering that he wasn’t at the clinic for laser back surgery, I felt like he was putting on a bit of a show. His wife, who was seated next to him, seemed to agree, based on her lack of response and the fact that the light had gone out of her eyes.
Another guy’s phone rang. He had his ringer volume set to “the sound of one planet colliding with another planet.” He tapped the green button on the screen of his phone, put it on speaker, held it as far away from his mouth as his arm would allow, and then began screaming into it.
“HEY BOBBY!” he screamed. “JUST SITTING HERE IN THE WAITING ROOM. IT’S REAL SLOW.”
“This is taking forever,” the lady next to him said. “I can’t believe how long we have to wait. This is ridiculous.”
She had been there maybe five minutes. It seems to me that if you’re going to get a space age laser shined into your eyeball, the process should take slightly longer than picking up a Hot-N-Ready pizza from Little Caesars, but maybe I’m the one being unreasonable.
“These doctors just leave you waiting these days,” the lady’s husband said. “Just ridiculous.”
An ear-splitting sound like an air raid klaxon reverberated through the room and the phone guy answered his cell phone, again thoughtfully putting it on speaker so that everyone in the tri-state area could hear his conversation with Bobby.
“STILL WAITING, BOBBY,” he screamed. “IT’S JUST RIDICULOUS.”
“It’s so cold,” another lady announced to the room. “Isn’t it cold in here? It’s so cold in here.”
It was perhaps 74 degrees in the waiting room. Unless the lady was secretly a bunch of tropical snakes held together by a blouse and sensible slacks, I had a feeling she would survive.
“Uggggggghhhhhhhh, my BACK.”
“Oh, I just can’t take this cold.”
“How long are we going to have to wait?”
“BOBBY!”
Finally, my dad emerged from the back. We hustled out to the car while I still had a decent grip on my sanity.
The moral of this story is, I never again want to hear my generation described as “whiny.”

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