God bless the employees who work in local plant nurseries. If my dumb questions are indicative of how many dumb questions they have to deal with each day, they don’t get paid enough. Items like:

• “Do you have that one plant that has leaves and pink flowers?” 
• “Who decided to call plants that bloom annually “perennials” not “annuals?” That’s messed up.” 
• “I don’t understand rice. Could you explain to me how rice happens?”

are all things I may or may not have said to a nursery worker. These are coming from just one person. Multiply that by a couple hundred customers a day, and you have amassed quite a bit of stupidity.

Case in point:

Recently, I was shopping for that one plant with the blue spiky flowers, but not the blue hanging flowers. I was standing over by the bright orange moon-looking things, when I started eavesdropping on a tense conversation. Pretending to feign interest in the nearby scallion starts, I inched closer to the employee who had just been hit with the “Are these genetically modified?” question as the customer made a general sweeping motion toward the landscaping plants.

“The…flowers…?” The employee asked, just to make sure she understood the question, which wasn’t so much a question as it was a dare.

“Yes,” the customer said as she gestured again to the possibly nefarious, but definitely suspicious geraniums.

“Um, yes. The flowering plants are all genetically modified. Almost none of these flowers naturally grow here, so they’ve all been modified to result in different colors, hardier plants.”

Shocked and indignant, the customer said “That’s not healthy!”

“Unless you’re eating them, it shouldn’t be a problem,” the employee said.

“I’ve been coming here for years. I can’t believe all this time you’ve been selling genetically modified plants!”

“I’m not sure you’re understanding genetic flower modification,” the employee said. She then began to explain plant biology and cross-pollination, which sometimes even happens naturally (scandalous!), but quickly realized that the “I-am-upset-because-someone-told-me-this-should-be-upsetting” button had already been triggered.

“Look at it this way,” the employee said. “If your dad is 100% German, and your mom is 100% Norwegian, you are genetically modified — you are a genetic modification of the German and Norwegian bloodlines. That doesn’t make you lesser than them. That makes you 100% “you,” which just happens to be 50% German and 50% Norwegian.”

By the look on the customer’s face, I could tell she was torn.

She was almost, maybe, possibly, pretty much sure that she had just been insulted. In addition to having to deal with percentage math, I could see her synapses start to misfire as she tried to flush out the following equation:

GMO = Bad

Me = a goddess whose very existence should be celebrated at every possible opportunity


“I want to speak to your manager. I want the number of the company that grows these flowers!” she demanded loudly, even risking the wake-up of the creature, which I assume was an infant (or maybe a therapy possum), sleeping in the BabyBjörn strapped to her chest. “I want to ask them some questions!”

The employee was more than happy to pass along the information and get on with her life. Pretty sure there was some eye rolling going on – from everybody within a 50-foot radius.

Because the nursery is only a couple of blocks from where I live, I began planning alternate car routes home that will bypass the inevitable protest. It’s a shame. I just switched to my current route, which strategically avoids the bleary-eyed jaywalkers who are exiting the weed shop.

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