Operation: Prankster / by Courtney Mehlhaff

When my mother was in the hospital this past fall, I spent several intense afternoons in the surgical waiting area while she underwent various procedures. It was a nice enough place to silently freak out -- comfy chairs, outdated magazines, free scalding coffee, a few TVs.

The feature that got the most attention was a humongous screen that took up much of one wall. It had every patient's name on a grid that was color coded and updated in real time so you could follow your loved one's progress. 

One day I found myself sitting next to a table of older ladies, probably in their 70s, at least one of whom was trying to track her sister's procedure. I'm not sure if the surgery was serious, but these ladies certainly weren't. They started by debating the color codes.

"It's the purple one."

"No, that's TEAL! See? On the bottom there."

"Oh, I can't see that from here."

They were quiet for a bit, or I was distracted, because the next thing I knew, one of the women walked right up to the display and started poking at the color blocks with her finger, like it was a giant iPad. The other ladies began laughing hysterically. In between their cackles, I caught the following comments:

" And then we made her touch the screen!"

" I couldn't help myself."

"You were in on it, too!"

"You could've said DON'T DO IT!"

More hysterical laughter.

I forgot my anxiety for just a moment and laughed along with these jokesters, thankful that punking your girls never goes out of style, solemn situations be damned.