Yes, this can be relaxing and pleasant.
Our lives are vastly different in the age of Coronavirus. And now, so are our daily routines. Normal things like picking up groceries or getting takeout have moved to curbside and now, we spend more time than ever waiting in the car.
Never would I have thought that something personal like visiting the doctor would be one more thing added to that list. But it was. In the days of this dreadful virus, our cars are the new waiting rooms.
Just recently, my newborn’s pediatrician called with instructions on how they are conducting well visits. We are to call once we reach the office parking lot to check in, and then they will inform us when we can come inside the office so we can be escorted directly into the room. This wasn’t the only time. A few days before, my obstetrician’s office called with similar instructions – call when you arrive, wait in the car to be called up. Thy are allowing no more than eight people in the office at once.
This is the new normal and normal for a lot of people these days.
Why Cars are the New Waiting Room
They are ideal, actually. In order to avoid the spread of the virus, doctors offices are doing everything to protect patients and care givers health. This includes limiting the number of people in waiting rooms. Instead of patients, both ill and well, sitting in a crowded waiting room, doctors are starting to ask patients to wait in their cars.
It makes sense. In your car you’re safe, contained and not contaminating anyone else–or being contaminated.
Not Just Doctors Are Asking Us to Wait in the Car
It’s not like this anymore:
The once seemingly-quizzical curbside grocery pick up (do you really want someone else picking out your tomatoes and avocados?) is now the best way to shop. But grocery stores that offer this service are overwhelmed. You may be waiting for a while. Same goes for waiting at Target, Walmart, the wine shop, local restaurants, and if you’re among the thousands showing symptoms of Covid-19, drive through testing centers.
And there will likely be more. A friend recently had to have her brakes fixed while her city was under shelter at home orders. Her mechanic had her wait in the car until they were ready to pull it into the garage bay (after they thoroughly wiped it down). Then, she had to sit on a bench (which they thoroughly wiped down ) in the parking lot and wait. No one was allowed in the waiting room.
Make Waiting in the Car a Pleasant Experience
Your car can make your wait a pleasant one. You’re comfortable, you can sip your coffee and sing to your child. Your child can play with her own books and toys, not the germy ones in the waiting room’s play area. If you’re with your significant other, you can carry on a private conversation and not have to whisper in hushed tones, constantly saying “What? What?” because it’s hard to hear someone whisper. And if you’re alone you can listen to NPR without anyone else complaining. You can also:
- Catch up on a book you’ve never finished or begin a new one
- Listen to a podcast
- Catch up on your favorite television series, watch a movie, or start a new series on your favorite streaming service
- Take a nap because sometimes as parents being alone in our cars is the only peace and quiet we get
Preparing Your Car is Key
First things first: Remember to bring your cellphone. You will need it to alert your doctor’s office of your arrival, and for them to call you to let you know a room is available.
Now, you want to make sure your car has everything to make your car safe and entertaining space. For this, you will need Coronavirus-age staples like facial tissues and hand sanitizer, and of course, entertainment.
Waiting in your car means you aren’t captive to typical doctor’s office waiting room staples like dated, dog-eared magazines. Things to bring with you (or leave in the car if you can) include:
- A tablet for the kids to watch a TV show while you wait (you can bring this into the exam room too, where you may wait for a while, too), and don’t forget the earbuds or headphones, or you’ll find yourself singing along to that Dora episode all day long.
- Games, puzzles or toys that will keep your kids engaged; ones they can bring into the doctors office are even better
- A book or a magazine, or two, or three
- A laptop with articles or favorite websites bookmarked
- A blanket (in case it’s cold and you don’t want to run the engine)
- A sun shade for the windshield (in case it’s hot and you don’t want to run the A/C)
- Something cool or hot to drink – doctors keep telling us during this crisis to stay hydrated
- A trash bag for any wipes or tissues. Of course you’ll want to wipe down yourself and your kids as soon as you leave the doctor’s office or after allowing a delivery person to close your trunk.
And of course, keep your stash of wipes, tissues and hand sanitizers stocked. Even though professionals around you are also wiping down, you can’t be too careful.
Last, while waiting in the car be mindful of the air circulation. Crack the windows even if it’s just a little bit to get fresh air flowing in and stale air flowing out. And as Spring starts to spring, roll the windows all the way down and enjoy.
There’s nothing as elating or refreshing as a blast of warm Spring air. And it’ll give you hope that the age of Coronavirus will soon come to an end.