Most times, the small television in the upper corner of the waiting room plays cooking shows, health tips. The volume is so low it might as well be turned off. No one pays any attention. I’ve seen the same asparagus recipe several times.
But Tuesday afternoon it was turned to the Olympics, a swimming event; and the speakers were turned up high enough that the ladies behind the desk could listen, if they couldn’t see.
It was slow and while I waited I noticed how they lingered, staff pausing on their way in and out of the room to watch for a second. The ladies at the desk would stand now and then, peer around the desk wall to see it.
I never thought about the Olympics, as a child. Or if I did, it was only in their ancient historical context. But as a modern contest of any sort? I’m not sure I knew they existed.
I do now, of course. I watched Michael Phelps stack up medals in 2008; watched Sven Kramer’s agony in 2010 when a wrong lane switch cost him gold; saw Lindsey Jacobellis tumble to the snow after a board trick that cost her the race.
Today my Facebook feed is full of comments and the bunny ears sit in our front window, to catch a little of the games at night, before falling asleep.
And everywhere I go televisions are tuned to NBC and newspapers splash photos on the front pages and water cooler chatter turns to London.
Tuesday afternoon two salesmen approach the desk, ask for a man who isn’t there, leave cards. But they stop before turning, stand to watch a swimming race end.
And how, I wonder, did I really not know that the Olympics were here, and now, and very much alive — not just a page out of a history book?