Flowers in California

Flowers in California

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sure, that seems like a really good idea.

I'm afraid this entry might turn into a rant.  I don't often rant or, at least, not in this forum.  Tonight, however, I feel the need.

Yesterday, my family went to the Lilac Festival.  Our schedule was tight but we saw some of the booths and a lot of people walking along the street.  Except for the fact I saw no lilacs, it was a pleasant affair.

Partway through our walk along the street, we encountered a cheerful woman.  She approached my son and gave him a pen.  She was very excited about the pen and told him to take it to school.  Indeed, it is an unusual pen.  It looks like a syringe filled with blood or some other liquid.  With my brain in festival mode, it seemed wonderful.  When you're in festival mode, lots of things seem wonderful.

Later on, my son decided to poke me with the pen.  I'm not mad at him.   He was being playful and this pen invites that activity.  While he surprised me when he poked me, I was also surprised to find out how much this pen could hurt.  I panicked.  I started to wonder if maybe it wasn't a pen but actually a syringe that some deranged woman on the street had been randomly handing out.  In looking at it, I saw the name of a health centre and was reasonably reassured.  Also, the pen does write.  So, I felt reasonably confident we were in no danger.

As I thought more about the pen, I came to realize that it's very inappropriate item to suggest an 11 year old boy take it to school.  I don't think the principal needs a bunch of students carrying around items that look like fluid-filled syringes.  Generally, kids are encouraged to stay away from such things.  Once they become familiar with these pens, they may be inclined to pick up similar looking items from the ground.  Sometimes things that look like syringes are syringes.  That a health centre came up with this idea and put its name on it is alarming.

In addition to the problems with the nature of this item, and I think those are serious, I don't understand why a public health facility in a non-market environment feels the need to have promotional items.  Are they in some form of competition to attract patients away from other public health facilities?  There's an urgent care centre and other clinics at this location.  Why is there a need to advertise?  If I'm injured, I'm not going to choose where I get care based on whether or not they hand out pens (although I might tend to stay away from a place that has the poor judgment to hand out syringe pens).  Even if I did, why would that matter?  Health services are provided at different sites but they're provided by the public system (mostly).  If, somehow, this site isn't busy and there is a desire to redistribute patients from busier locations to it, information could be provided by other means.  All we received was a pen (and some bandages; they provided even less information).  Perhaps the cost of the pens is small but an unnecessary expense is still unnecessary.  I don't understand the need.

So, our trip to the Lilac Festival was brief but we did come home with a great new pen and many questions to ponder.  I would rather have come home weighed down with lots of lilacs and lilac-related items but I guess this is good too.  I'm not letting my son take the pen to school.  For this, I expect the principal would be very grateful.

Thank you for bearing with me.  My rant is now complete. 


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