March 27, 2012: Flower Power

            Yesterday, my mother had an appointment with her oncologist. Today, I took my father to see his cardiologist. On Thursday, Dad and I will visit his urologist.

            If I don’t look forward to the endless visits to specialists and general practitioners and neurologists, it’s not because of the schlepping back and forth to Sun City in my father’s car, which smells like old people. It’s not filling out the same forms I filled out last month or the inevitability that the test results from our previous visit have been misplaced. It’s not my mother’s repeated questions (“Why are we here? What’s a checkup? What if the doctor asks for money—I don’t have my purse with me!”).

            It’s the fucking pens.

            At some point, someone decided that pens on doctor’s office reception desks needed to have silk flowers glued to the ends of them, then shoved into cunning little vases filled with colored marbles. Nearly every one of the dozen or so doctors I take my parents to see has a clever arrangement of polyester peonies and plastic petunias and fake tea roses next to the sign in-clipboard, and because I always forget that Bics are now begonias, I stand there looking for something to write with. At which point the receptionist before me chirps, “The flowers are pens!”

This makes me want to kill myself.

At my mother's oncologist's office, a new reason for self-murder.

I deplore random cuteness. And I can’t fathom either the purpose in this peculiar trend or where it came from. Did an orthopedist’s receptionist in Avondale see a cute photo in a fun crafts magazine of a Uniball with a daffodil stuck to it, and just go nuts with it? Did other receptionists steal the idea, turning every waiting room in every west valley doctor’s office into a goddamn bowery?

And what’s next? Tourniquets fashioned into wrist corsages? Prescription forms folded into origami impatiens? Will the nurse at the neurologist’s office ask my mother to please go into the other room and sweet-pea into a flower bowl?

My father's cardiologist also has a clever receptionist.

I have a theory about why this silly craze continues. Surrounded by colleagues who can save lives, these poor young women—who, let’s face it, spend their days asking for insurance cards and adjusting the waiting room thermostat—feel inadequate. By camouflaging their pens as a bouquet of bachelor buttons, they get to feel superior about something. After watching us look everywhere for something to sign in with, they can roll their eyes and say, “The flowers are pens.”

So, I’m dreading Dad’s Thursday visit to the urologist. But I have a plan. When the receptionist asks me for my co-pay, I’m going to hand her a fistful of baby’s breath and a wad of floral clay.

Thing I Hate Today: The phrase “I’m on a journey.”

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9 Responses

  1. Hey, I love making these cute little pens. Try it, it might be more fun than you think. Maybe next year you can make poinsetta pens for the holidays. 🙂

  2. REALLY, how dare you…you are marching on my turf miss thing. We put flowers on pens to keep people such as yourself from stealing them….TSK

  3. Robrt, I know what you mean! But a receptionist once told me it dissuades people from walking off with the pen! I have a flower pot full of them at my house so I know I’ll have pen readily available since my kids seem to walk off with the “normal” ones! haha! Hope you’re doing well!

  4. If you start making flower pens, I’ll leave you…that’s the deal breaker.

  5. This reminds me of the Barbie pen that Blaise used to keep in Master Control. Nobody ever walked off with that pen so it was always there for her to use.

  6. Things I hate today: Cat vomit left on the couch. Can’t they seek a hard, non-absorbable surface for that kind of activity?

  7. Yeah, they do it to keep folks from “walking” with ’em, because they ARE obnoxious, colorful, and blatant, making them hard to conceal – but I have seen possibly worse things, but they are sort of okay because they ARE so bad – that is, when businesses use wads and wads of duct tape to attach plastic spoons, forks, Sporks, or other clunky unattractive utilitarian objects to their pens, knowing FULL well no one’d want to walk off with that, whereas someome might actually think a flower-pen was “cute.”

  8. I call those pens germ bouquets. Once I sat in the MRI waiting room amongst coughing and nasal dripping patients for my turn at the sign-in desk. My name was called as a hacker left the window after signing papers with one of those flower pens. As I pulled a pen out of my purse to use, the clerk said, “You can use one of the flowers…that’s what they’re for.” Right!

  9. One of the things that impresses me about the waiting room at my dad’s doctor is that there are no germ magnets. No magazines, no cloth upholstery, no fake flowers or plants — you could hose the whole thing down.

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