This morning I had to go to the lab to get blood tests done. I stood behind the sign that said “For patient privacy please wait behind the sign until you are called.” The three foot space between the sign and the receptionist window wasn’t much of a sound buffer; I listened in to every conversation between the receptionist and each patient. I know that the woman in the clean white sneakers and navy plaid shirt last took her medication at 11:00 last night and that the small Asian man ate breakfast this morning. I finally turned in my paperwork, quietly answered each question lest my privacy be invaded, and then took a seat to wait for the lab technician to call me.
An elderly couple entered the waiting area and took their place behind the sign. The tiny woman was hunched over with Dowager’s Hump obvious under her Alfred Dunner shirt. Her husband slowly made his way to the waiting room chairs using two canes. I was far enough away that I could no longer hear the conversations with the receptionist. The elderly man was comfortably seated by the time his wife finished with the receptionist and turned to walk the ten feet to the waiting area. He looked up and saw her heading toward him and he struggled to pull himself up using his canes. He remained standing until she was seated, and then he sat down again.
…and that’s something that you don’t see much anymore. I can’t remember the last time anyone stood up when I entered a room. It was a small gesture, but even though it was difficult for him, he struggled to his feet to show his respect to his wife.
Today I had a glimpse of what was once commonplace…good manners. Perhaps I’ve grown used to incivility, but that elderly couple stuck in my mind all day.