Monday, June 28, 2010

Switzerland's Seventies Waiting Room


Yes, it was still the 1970s in the waiting room while it was 2010 outside. Decades had gone by, as they should have, streaming past the windows in changing blurs of fashion, technology and politics. The small group inside the room often stood looking out or peered anxiously from their sticky brown leather chairs at the rapidly changing scenery outside, an intimidating aurora borealis of transformation that looked unbearable to them. It was nicer inside, on the sofas, with everything as it was in 1971-1979. Just in case anyone wanted to go outside, wanted to leave the waiting room, there was a coat rack in the reception area, full of 2010 clothing plus a few key gadgets so that the emerging man or woman could pass off into the 21st century crowd immeditately. How they fared a day, a week, a month, a year after leaving the waiting room was up to them. Very few of them wanted to leave.

Occasionally, some risked going outside. They were the ones who took up training, absorbed a bit of briefing on .mp3s and mobile phones and smoothies and Ikea and the multiple types of espresso-based hot, iced or frappe drinks that were acceptable to drink on public transport and on the streets. Some embraced the idea of 2010, got snobby about the grey and brown food that was regularly served up in cut glass serving bowls and shuddered at the array of savoury food in aspic that were the party pieces each Friday evening. These rare characters grew impatient with the phone that didn't display the number being dialled, had no text service or message retrieval system. They didn't like the manual typewriters and ribbons and paper and correction fluid, whining for a bigger screen, automatic spelling correction, cut and paste witthout any actual glue or scissors. These were the ones who clawed at the waiting room door, just dying to get into the world that delivered mail
electronically.

They were few and far between, these types; they were not missed when they did eventually leave the waiting room. The remaining women would sigh and return to cutting their dress patterns, the men would go back to studying their Haynes manuals, and once the door closed behind the exiting 1970s person, everyone remaining would settle more comfortably onto the sofas, relaxing after the anomaly had gone. It was always the 1970s in the waiting room. There was nothing wrong with that.

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