The Lebanese waiting room

Image credits: Lebanese protesters protesting against the government in Beirut. Photo courtesy of Hiba al Kallas.

I was asked to write an analytical piece about life in Lebanon. Life? Lebanon? I replied that the time I spend in Lebanon is pretty much like the time I spend in waiting rooms. But instead of waiting for an appointment, I’d be waiting for my next trip.

By Adriana Lebbos
Nobody thinks much about the waiting room, including those who sit and wait. But in fact, a waiting room bears an uncanny resemblance to the nuances of everyday life.

A waiting room is an astounding concentration boiling with the full spectrum of human emotion. Ranging from mind-numbing boredom to severe anxiety.  

From extreme exhibitionism to extreme introverted-ness. From genuine disinterest to misplaced affability. And naturally, there can be Woody Allen eccentricities and transformative, a-ha moments.

A waiting room is a hub of inspiration. And plot twists.

I sat in a waiting room for more than an hour and noticed that people actually DO get tired of checking their mobile phones. Check the Lebanese Lira rate, then a routine social check: Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter (for the masochistic few).

Rant about mobile data being on but not working. Rant about everything else (being on and not working). There were some vintage issues of Mondanité and Snob (celebrity news mags) sitting on a side table in the corner of the waiting room. After a while, several people got up and looked at the magazines.

One of the readers showed a page to a neighbour. A conversation began, and in less than 3 minutes, we found out where we could get the best artisanal Maamouls (Easter and Eid sweets), and a connection was made. Then someone else in the waiting room asked about someone she knew from that Maamouls village.

Tight-lipped smiles soon relaxed, and boundaries fell like dominoes. Soon everyone in the waiting room was talking. I had just witnessed a small monumental waiting room moment, the unintentional consequences of having print magazines in waiting rooms.

Adriana is a freelance copywriter and columnist. She works with various well-known and lesser-known agencies. With a background in communication arts, she has published three books in French (PhilosoFILLE, 1.2.toi.soleil and Panne des Sens) and lives “under the spell of the fascinating random”.

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12 comments on “The Lebanese waiting room”

  1. Thanks Adriana, only you can transform a bitter criticism of the situation in Lebanon into an intelligent analysis of human behavior in society. Bright.

  2. Thank you, Adriana. Your writing is so well-done. You took me from a waiting room where I was feeling anxious, bored, and lost in my own world. However, you gave me hope by opening up to people, chatting, and laughing. That is the beautiful Lebanon.

    1. And this is exactly why we keep coming back to this heartbreaking but oh so heartwarming country of ours!

  3. The waiting room story reminded me of a Seinfeld episode about the different waiting rooms and how we sit anxiously waiting to be sent to the next one where we wait again but this time alone.

    The genius in your work is always the double-meaning, the metaphor of waiting for life in Lebanon to change. Waiting for a miracle that we would somehow wakeup and find that we do know how to govern ourselves without any other intention but to govern ourselves better, manage our resources and find a way to unlock the potential that our Lebanese country and spirit hold.

    To close my comment with a hopeful note, I dare say that maybe one day, some of us who actually have the energy to do something for the greater good of our nation, will find a way to create an atmosphere and maybe starting very small, create an ecosystem where a few of us can thrive and be a model for others to replicate and spread.

  4. Love your writing style, it's engaging and makes a seemingly common situation feel interesting and relatable. Can't wait for your next article!

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