To fill you in a bit more about myself. I am a twenty-something doctor doing my obligatory community service year in an under-resourced hospital in Mpumulanga, where to be honest, I have had a trying year. All sounds very boring, but day-to-day life is filled with the trials and tribulations of patients, their stories and of course the joys of working with my incompetent, lazy-ass colleagues.
Two weeks ago I went to a conference on diabetes. I was thrilled to be leaving the hospital for a full day and reveling in the fact that I had to see zero patients. I arrived to find only 3 people there, 2 of which were organisers for the conference. An hour later the attendants started trickling in. The organiser opened up by informing us that there were rep companies here, who we could talk to during the allocated lunch slot. For none medical people, reps = FREE STUFF. Basically they tell you about their product while you grab paraphernalia from their table, consisting of pens, sweets, T-shirts, bags, pads of papers and useless pamphlets. The pen is the most coveted object. Working in a government setting means you spend the most of your day filling in forms, medical certificates etc. Basically everyone wants a free pen!
During the talks I noticed people leaving to go to the bathroom, returning to their seats clutching not just one, but multiple pens, as well as bags, T-shirts and other goodies. Slowly the others cottoned onto this idea and everyone was leaving to "have a tinkle". The speaker actually had a address everyone and ask them to stop it. So when lunch-time finally arrived, I really didn't care about the stupid pen. OK, I did a little bit :) But about 200 people, mainly overweight nursing staff, stampeded towards the exit. I got trapped between one's rather busty chest and had another shoving her handbag into my back. I couldn't go backwards or forwards and decided to endure the wait. After 10 minutes and with no decrease in shoving from the rear, I thought to myself "WTF, I'm a doctor, I could go and but 10 of these stupid pens and now here I am sandwiched like a bloody cow ready for slaughter." I tried to remain calm and then I started to get annoyed as the handbag and now lodged itself between my vertebrae. EVENTUALLY we edged forward to the table and lo and behold I could actually see the pens. They were a hideous luminous orange....they were beautiful! I finally managed to stick out my grubby paw and curl my fingers around one. I had gotten one...... my very own free pen....... "my precious".
After the conference I popped in to visit my boyfriend.
"Did you get any free stuff?" he casually asked.
"Um....ya, I got a pen...but it's really crap and orange."
"Well if you don't like it, can I have it?"
What??? Did he not realise the shear agony I had to endure to get this pen?
I now go to sleep every night with my pen under my pillow