Opinion

Never underestimate the appeal of a free pen – or a half-eaten sandwich!

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On a recent trip to my GP surgery, I was advised that I needed a blood test. As someone who is not very good with needles (I tried to avoid having my BCG by feigning a tummy bug), I reluctantly took my place in the queue and waited to see the nurse.

Entering the room, I desperately tried to avoid looking at the needle, but luckily something else caught my eye: a Nursing Standard pen! We often give free pens away at conferences and exhibitions to our readers, so I was chuffed to see one being used in the workplace.

Whenever I see one of our pens it reminds me of the urban legend that has been whispered in the corridors at RCNi for years. Everyone loves a freebie, and whenever we exhibit anywhere we often have crowds of delegates vying for pens, Post-its and USBs.

This particular year, we were being cleaned out faster than usual. We had so many visitors to the stand that lunchtime was basically ‘grab something on the run’, with one member of staff trying to eat a sandwich and replenish stock at the same time.

Quicker than we could get the items out, they were being taken, but it was great to see so many nurses. During a short lull, the member of staff went to finish his sandwich, but it was gone! Over time the story became embellished and in some versions the sandwich became sushi. But the basis of legend remains: a delegate appears to have grabbed someone’s half-eaten lunch!

We often wondered why nurses loved the pens so much until we were told by one visitor how many staff have to supply their own pens, paying for them out of their own pockets. And of course people often need different colours for different paperwork, and pens can get lost or swiped by colleagues. With today’s administration demands on nurses, pens are essential kit.

So, as I sat there and had my blood taken (looking the other way, naturally) I mentioned the pen to the nurse. ‘They are so useful’, she replied, and opened the desk drawer to reveal 20 more. And a half eaten sandwich!

About the author

Kelly Smith is an advertising executive at RCNi