Waiting room

I was at the endocrinologist today for a follow-up visit and as I sat there waiting for (literally) 3.5 hours I was pondering waiting rooms.

For my non PRican readers, the Puerto Rican doctor’s waiting room is an experience that would be foreign and probably terrifying to many of you. We don’t sit quietly with our Oprah’s book club books and keep our dirty diseases to ourselves. Nope.

When you go into a medical appointment here, for starters you should plan to wait. The system here is that patients are seen in the order in which they arrive. There are no appointments which is good financially for doctors who don’t have to deal with lost revenue from reserving a time slot for a person who doesn’t show up. If you are the patient and you have a life, it blows.

So, plan on waiting 3 or 4 hours, at the least.

While you wait, you should not intend to sit quietly to yourself. First there’s the people who come in selling raffle/lottery tickets or other crap.

Then there’s the waiting room conversation. The “what you got?” Conversation.

As a child I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms and was mortified by these. Now I feel more of a morbid fascination with the conversations around me.

People were comparing blood sugar levels and then having this great conversation about the stuff you should and shouldn’t eat where no one agreed and I thought a fight was about to break out. These are all strangers who happened to meet in a waiting room but suddenly everyone is sharing their medical and life histories with each other.

Today I got to listen to women who were talking about lighting candles for their deceased husbands today –day of the dead– in order to avoid being haunted by them. I listened to a woman who is adamant in her refusal to remove skins from chicken. A man who was discovered by his wife out in the garden eating a papaya from the tree when he’s not supposed to have fruit. A woman whose daughter miscarried. Another woman who is covered in bruises from her insulin shots. A man who is terrified of needles. A discussion on the value of several television commercials. A discussion on microwave cooking methods and recipes. All kinds of talk about various medications. Media hype and the year 2000. The sales tax.

I was there where Juana public hangs out. It was amazing.
I felt like I should be taking notes and passing around consent forms.

My bloodwork was excellent so I get to go another 5-6 months without hanging in the waiting room.



  1. Yalitza Said:

    I know how you feel, I’ve known how to waste a whole day in an office just to get my bloodwork results read. But the most interesting fact about this is that if you do not pay attention to what they are saying even when they are not taking to two things will happen, wheter they will ask you your opinion about the topic or why are you there? or they will get offended because young people these days have no interest and no respecvt for older people.Funny huh! There is no way to please a puertorrican in a waiting room.

  2. thealeticia Said:

    LOL! Yeah I forgot that part, the young people have no respect conversation if you don’t want to talk about someone’s goiter.

    I prefer our waiting rooms in many ways though, it’s soooo much fun to people watch!

    The other thing I forgot is the television with the novelas blaring and the radio on sappy pop ballads simultaneously invading my senses for nearly four hours. And doctors wonder why people have high blood pressure after all this! 🙂

  3. If someone hasn’t been there, there’s no way they’ll even come close to understanding the PRican waiting room experience. *shaking head*

    ~ FR

  4. […] Here’s an interesting link to a blog entry on a Puerto Rican experience I thought some of you might enjoy: Waiting Room […]

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