Thursday, April 07, 2011

Like A Doctor's Waiting Room In Here... or What Would Hiro Protagonist Do In A Situation Like This?

A couple of random shots of our new Melbourne home. The top one is our all new Coffee Table Of Adventures. Each compartment contains a memento with a story behind it... although one or two of them, the story seems to have been forgotten. We're, like, what was the story behind the sweets again? I dunno - I thought that was one of yours.

Anyway, all settled in. Feels like home. And the sunsets from this place... seriously, on a clear day (and there have been many) they are just stunning.

Below is the next Grumpy column for Tsunami.


I had to go to the eye specialist recently. I arrived at 9.30am thinking cool, I must have the first appointment. However there were already four patients waiting. Not so cool.

Worse was that when I checked my bag I realised I had forgotten the book I am writing as well as the one I am reading. I'm reading Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Action sci-fi goodness with lines like, "When the Deliverator puts the hammer down, shit happens." The Deliverator – AKA Hiro Protagonist – is a kick arse dude who wields a meaner Samurai sword than Uma Thurman in Kill Bill.

Noticing the lack of magazines on offer (I guess they thought there was no point offering reading material to a waiting room full of the vision-impaired), I pulled out the only reading material I had, which was a local theatre season guide, which I dragged out for 10 minutes, thinking, it's like a waiting room in here.

In that 10 minutes, the waiting room filled. People with eye problems slowly filed in and I realised they simply book everyone in at 9.30 and work through us one at a time.

And these people were old. I remembered this from the last time I was at an eye specialist... I was the youngest person in the room, and I didn't feel good about it.

I really wanted to be reading about the metaverse and Hiro Protagonist and Y.T and The Rat Thing and The Raven and... this was going to be painful.

The old dear sitting next to me piped up and said something about the thing the woman opposite was knitting. She was knitting a cardigan for her granddaughter.

"It's a lovely pattern. And a lovely colour. Where did you get the wool?"

Oh God.

"Bendigo Knitting Mill."

Spare me.

"Ooh I get my wool from Bendigo Knitting Mill!"

What would Hiro Protagonist do in a situation like this?

"Wish I'd brought my knitting," says one of the others. "Help pass the time."

So would suicide.

"Is she your only granddaughter?"

The knitter is amused by this. "No. I have seven granddaughters..."

The others are impressed.

"And 13 grandsons."

Suddenly the room is filled with talk of offspring and knitting patterns and the exact shades of the wool and where everyone originally came from (the Australian accents are way out-numbered) and suddenly the weirdest thing happens. I find myself thinking to hell with my sci-fi novel - this is fucking beautiful. The other men in the room sit silently through it all, while I sit there smirking in appreciation. It's actually, really, very cool. It is making me feel warm and fuzzy.

I'm there for a couple of hours, in and out of rooms for various tests, occasionally having to wait again and everyone just seems to have gotten to know each other better with each passing minute. Some of them, as they leave, they say goodbye to these people who were strangers just a short time ago. They're on first name basis now as they wave goodbye on their way to the next specialist's appointment, and I'm just a bit blown away by how nice everyone is to each other, how all these lives from far-flung places have come together and bothered to get to know each other in this shitty little waiting room in this corner of planet Earth.

I don't know. Sometimes nice is just, well, nice, I think as I walk home with my smile and my squint and my stupidly dilated pupils. I even think Hiro Protagonist would have got the warm and fuzzies.

Grumpy is freelance writer Lee Bemrose ( He quite likes that stuff they put in your eyes to make the pupils go big.


Kathryn said...

Well. That's pretty beautiful, Lee Bemrose. I can imagine what that waiting room was like. Humans have their moments, don't they? :)

Lee said...

Theydo indeed have their moments, Kathryn Shreve. I have to go back for more tests in a month. Weirdly, I am looking forward to it.

Guyana-Gyal said...

My feel-good post for today!

Next time, ask them questions about their family, they're going to love you. And you'd hear the most amazing things too, especially if you ask them about Oz lonnnng ago.

Lee said...

GG - I was content to listen. I felt like an outsider (as I so often do). But what you say is right - I'm sure if I had participated I would have been welcomed in. They were really sweet people. I'm due back in four weeks. I hope it happens again. Maybe I'll say hello. said...

You two should converse seeing you both do similar stuff.

Lee said...

Thanks Maggie. I have started reading his blog. Nice reviews.

Margarita Milonguita said...

I've left a message to check out your blog.