Robrt Pela: Flower Power

By Robrt Pela
February 28, 2014

KJZZ commentator Robrt Pela has been caring for his mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, for the past seven years. As her primary caregiver, he has a lot of time to consider the more unfortunate details of caregiving.   



Yesterday, my mother had an appointment with her oncologist. Last week, I took her to see her general practitioner. Next Thursday, we’re off to the neurologist.

If I don’t look forward to the endless visits to specialists and primary care docs, it’s not because of the schlepping back and forth to Sun City or the fact that, a lot of the time lately, my car 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 even 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 pens.

At some point, someone decided that ink 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 half-dozen or so doctors I take my mother to see has a clever arrangement of polyester 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 inevitably chirps, “The flowers are pens!”

This makes me want to kill myself.

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 then steal the idea, turning every waiting room in every West Valley doctor’s office into a plasticene bowery?

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

I have a theory about why this silly craze continues. I think the flower-pens are happening because receptionists feel inadequate. Surrounded by people who can save lives, they spend their days asking for insurance cards and adjusting the waiting room thermostat. 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 Mom’s Wednesday 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.