Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Hospital Waiting Room Instructoress


Have you ever come across the Waiting Room Instructoress?
I find her a fascinating, mysterious woman.
She is found in the female waiting area of doctors clinics or hospitals.  One might think she wields a great deal of power and influence though, having come across her often enough, I believe she has a naughty, mischievous streak that encourages her to play with social practices, choosing which she will adhere to on any given day, and which she will ignore.

The Saudi Instructoress waits till the time is right before making her play.  Usually it's while there are only two of us present (myself and she), in the female section of the doctors waiting area.  She will call out to her husband, older son or whatever significant male is waiting just over the barrier in the men's waiting section.  He will hear the call, make his way to the ladies waiting area and, standing an acceptable distance outside its boundary, await instructions from her re:whatever they need instructing about.

The Saudi Instructoress beckons him in.
He hesitates.
He looks round the corner of the barrier.
Words are exchanged.
Her eyes (if uncovered) flicker towards me.  If covered, a silence descends on the waiting area and the slightest movement of her head lets me know she's looking in my direction.
The male just outside the waiting area is always cautious initially.

He steps a little closer, looks in, sees me reading.
I look up and meet his eyes, sometimes with a fquerying 'Is there a problem?' look, other times a quick 'I Can see you lookin' at me' glance.  More often than not these days my look is delivered with the beginnings of an 'I know we're both pulling your chain' smile beginning to lift the corner of my mouth.  He hesitates.

More words are exchanged and then, at the insistent tone of his elder, who is presumably saying 'Don't Worry About Her' (the Waiting Room Instructoress is always older and usually has walking issues), he steps slowly over the threshold into the forbidden territory of the Female Waiting Area to receive her directions.

I don't mind.
It doesn't bother me.
It's a bit of humour in my day.  Or if I'm not feeling humourous, it's always a good time to ponder the ins and outs of living a Saudi life.

Once he is treading the Waiting Room carpet, I usually leave my reading long enough to smile at the lady in need of extra assistance, then I might also smile upon said male who sometimes smiles back, other times looks anywhere but at me, or acts like a possum caught in headlights and pauses, for the briefest moment, before focusing on the Instructoress and his task at hand.  I simply return to my book (it's always a good idea to take a book to the hospital, especially for later in the day appointments).

Obviously these women have reached a stage in life, with the wisdom of age, where they feel the rules of the land are a bit silly and should be flouted, and men made to feel uncomfortable, whenever it suits their needs.   Either that or they think infidel me has already gone to hell and there is no saving me.  (Maybe she's right!).

Once or twice I have contemplated engaging the Instructoress.  I would love to get inside her head and see what she is really thinking.  But she is, more often than not, fully covered and seated just far enough away to make starting a conversation a little awkward, hence turning me into the 'Waiting Room Conversation Starting Weirdo'.  Plus, being older, I'm not sure how much English she would speak and I'm ashamed to say that my erratic efforts studying Arabic have not yet made me anywhere near fluent.

So, I am left to imagine who she is, what she thinks and why she's leading men onto the Waiting Room path to hell.  Yes, the Waiting Room Instructoress continues to amuse and mystify me,.. but I think I like her.

Ka Kite,

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