Monday, April 13, 2015

Nurse the Hate: The Second Coming of the Lorna Doone

I had not sat in a hospice situation for a number of years.  It’s an experience that is counter to everything that you have been led to expect in a health care facility.  As opposed to trying to find solutions to get that person out of bed, it is about trying to provide them with “comfort”.  This usually means pumping them with as many painkillers as possible as they fall in and out of consciousness.  Meanwhile the concerned visitors look on trying to figure out what to say to each other or figure out an activity that seems to help in some small way.  It is waiting for the inevitable with nothing to do.  It is an awkward and uncomfortable situation.

As the end arrived, the hospice facility rolled in “the hospitality cart”.  I had forgotten about the hospitality cart concept from when my father had died years ago, but it all came flooding back to me.  I remember telling the hospital personnel that we had decided to let events run their course and let him die.  Then, in a perfectly coordinated movement, a curtain was pulled back and a cart rolled in with the spokesperson saying “take all the time you need”.  I found it odd then and find it odd now that when it has become starkly apparent that it is the moment that marks the end of your parent’s life that the culturally accepted response is to have a snack.  “Sorry about your father, but please enjoy this off brand soft drink and cookie snack pack!”

The thing I kept thinking about then was the small bowl of individually wrapped Lorna Doone cookies sitting on The Hospitality Cart.  How had they decided this was the Official Cookie of Comfort?  I don’t know what cookie would be my go-to cookie of choice in that situation, but it seemed to me that the Lorna Doone was an incredibly obscure cookie choice.  Who the hell eats Lorna Doones?  Chips Ahoy.  Oreo.  Nilla Wafer.  These are the market leaders.  Lorna Doone?  Isn’t that strictly for grandmothers and their bridge groups?  It’s my most vivid memory of the whole experience wondering how those cookies got there.

So here was the second Hospitality Cart I had encountered in hospice.  There they were.  Sitting in packaged four packs.  Once again, the Lorna Doone.  Offering comfort to the grieving along with 7 oz. cans of Diet Shasta cola.  What the fuck?  First of all, let’s get past the confusing appearance of an off brand like Shasta that I had assumed was as extinct as a carrier pigeon.  The fact that Shasta was available, and as an obscure half can, was very confusing.  But how had the Lorna Doone once again wedged itself into this moment of human grief? 

I now believe that there is a dedicated sales force within the snack industry that has somehow created a market niche for the Lorna Doone brand.  Tirelessly this sales force meets with food service managers of hospice and end of life health care facilities with unbelievably persuasive power point presentations focused on the warm emotional hug of crunching into a buttery Lorna Doone. 

“Allison… You have a terrific nursing home here, but I see one area of concern…  When the family gathers at the end of a resident’s life, God forbid, what are you serving them?  Chips Ahoy?  Nutter Butter?  Allison…  How can you serve such a frivolous cookie as the Chips Ahoy?  It’s like breezing into the deathbed room with a pair of skater shorts and asking if anyone wants to catch some waves… Hey, it’s me Chips Ahoy!  Who wants to party?...  Don’t get me wrong Allison… The Chips Ahoy is a good cookie.  Solid cookie.  Tastes great.  People like it.  It certainly has a place here at the facility.  Chips Ahoy… great nurse’s lounge cookie.  Perfect for office get-togethers.  But when things get serious… When it is all going down…  When things require a delicate touch… That’s when you bring out the comfort and the unmatched emotional strength of the Lorna Doone.  It lets people know that it is all going to be OK… That we are going to get through this…  Together.  Allison, I need you to do the responsible thing here and sign this two year exclusive commitment for Lorna Doone to be the official Hospitality Cart cookie of Sunset Meadows Hospice.  Let me get you that pen…”
I don't know how else to explain it.  Those Lorna Doone sales guys have really done an amazing sales job.  They have somehow created a market for a cookie that is as quaint, old fashioned, and out of style as a rotary dial phone.  Bravo to the cold blooded sharks at Nabisco and their mercenary snack distributors.  While I did not crunch into one of the Lorna Doone snack packs, I recognized it was there.  As it maybe always has been and always will be...   


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