Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An "Eye-Opening" Experience...

I must say, today was not as...hellish as I was expecting it to be. I'm almost disappointed; I was ready to write a woe-is-me story to gain myself some sympathy points amongst my peers. But, I could have just as easily been pegged as a whiner, so it's for the best.

It all started yesterday morning. As I was putting in my daily contact lenses, I noticed that my supply was running somewhat low.

"No matter," said I, "Once these run out, I'll just get another box out of the closet...ah, dammit!" It was then that I remembered that I didn't have another box, because I was planning on getting another eye exam at the Tang Center before reordering. That plan was made 90 days ago. It was forgotten 86 days ago. And now it was time to pay the piper.

I emailed my dad to see if he could get a new box of lenses, and promptly called the Tang Center to see if I could schedule and appointment. Their first opening? Two weeks from now. Way too late.

So, once I'm finished with classes yesterday, I get a call from my Dad. He tells me that Costco won't honor the order with an expired prescription, not no way, not no how.

Now, it's been years and years since I've gotten into my angry mode which earned me the nickname "Rhinoman" (more on that another time), but I was livid. I wanted to snap the umbrella I was carrying, or better yet, impale a Costco worker with it. Now, I wasn't angry at my Dad, nor was I even angry at Costco. No, I was simply enraged by the whole situation, by the fact that I could have let this happen to me, by the fact that I might have been forced to wear my glasses.

I honestly cannot stand wearing glasses. If you wear glasses, more power to you. But to me, they are a prison compared to contact lenses. With contacts, your vision is improved, and the word is a beautiful, clear place. Glasses, on the other hand, are a window, a small window into that world which teases you with the beauty. There are limits - barriers, if you will - to the beauty that glasses can let you see. It's unnerving. Plus, I look ugly when I wear them. So I was not looking forward to having no choice but wear glasses. And that's when I decided to take matters into my own hand.

I woke up at 7am, which for a college student is the wee hours of the morning. Considering that my usual wake-up time on a Tuesday is 10am, I wasn't looking forward to it. Once up, I got my bearings together and left so as to make it to the Tang Center as soon as the optometry clinic opened, 8:30am. Once there:

Me: "Hi, I don't have an appointment, but I'm really desperate to have a contact lens exam soon. Is it okay if I wait here?"
Them: "Sure, but it may be awhile. The clinicians don't arrive until 10:30."
Me: "I....oh."
Them: "Plus, we're going to need your prescription."
Me: "I....oh."
Them: "If you have your contact lens box, you can show that."
Me: "Oh...okay. I'll be back."

So, after waking up oh-so-early and walking all the way from CKC to the Tang Center, I had to walk back up to CKC. I didn't want to actually bring my boxes, so I just made some photocopies. I then walked all the way back the the Tang Center (actually, as it was sprinkling, I tried jogging - TERRIBLE idea when you're carrying a backpack as heavy as mine).

Me: "*Huff*...*Puff*...I brought...the prescrip...tion."
Them: "Oh, it's a color copy. That's neat."
Me: "Can I...*huff*...sit down?"
Them: "Sure. And hope someone doesn't show up for their appointment."

Thankfully, by 10:50am, someone didn't show up for their appointment, so I one of the optometrists saw me for an exam.

I've had many eye exams in my time, and I've noticed something: every (and I mean every) optometrist is either an ugly old man or an attractive young woman. Without fail. As far as the Tang Center goes, we'll just say there's a lot of young blood. While that does have certain, ahem, advantages, it can also make the exam a bit uncomfortable. I think it's an male pride thing. Good eyesight is an evolutionary advantage; like any beneficial trait, it helps to contribute to one's survival and, subsequently, mating habits. To see how poor your vision really is, especially in front of a female, can be a very emasculating experience. "I cannot see...I cannot be the alpha male."

Still, we had pleasant smalltalk (which I can be good at; once, while playing at a Magic: The Gathering tournament, some guy called me "the most pleasant opponent I have ever faced"), and she was impressed at my curiosity about all the intricacies of being an optometrist. Things were going great until I had my pupils dilated and an intensely bright light shined into my eyes from every angle. My eyes are naturally sensitive to light (that's one of the reasons I constantly have sunglasses), so this felt like murder. After losing half my body weight in tears, I had to sit back for a minute. "I'm sorry," I said, "I haven't cried this hard since Frodo and Sam were stuck on Mount Doom."

Soon enough, though, it was all finished. I then ordered a year's worth of lenses, so this would never happen again. I asked about colored lenses, but that would have needed another exam for lens fitting. "Never mind, then," I said, "it was just a whim." *Winks to camera.*

I then noticed something strange when I paid.
Me: "I can't read this bill. But...that makes no sense. I'm nearsighted. I should be able read perfectly fine."
Them: "Yeah, remember when she put those dilation drops in your eyes? It affects your close vision."
Me: "So you're saying that I can now see far away but not close up?"
Them: "Reversal of fortune, bitch!" (Not in so many words, though.)

Now, this would normally be a problem, as I had my computer science lab right then. Indeed, once I was at the lab, trying to do any work on the computer was nauseating. However, last weekend, I decided on a whim to do my lab early. Who'd think it would actually come in handy? So, after turning in my pre-completed assignment, I quickly left. I had other places to be; namely, the El Cerrito Target.

One of the jobs of an RA is to hold programs for the residents. This Saturday, I'm holding a poker tournament. One of the prizes is a poker set. You'd think an affordable (for hall staff budget) poker set would be easy to find in a town like this. But you'd be wrong. Dead wrong! It's amazingly difficult! I've been in every store in Berkeley, and they were either out or overpriced. Target was my last hope.

I had to take the BART, and it stank (in the olfactory sense of the word). Forget about the smell of a dog that's been in the rain. People in the rain stink, too. Especially when they're packed into a small, unventilated tin box.

So, I got to Target. Long story short, they didn't have a thing. They had poker tables, they had a TV poker game, but no simple poker set. It says on they're website that it's available at that particular store, but the lady there said that she never heard of such a thing ever being there. So that was a dead end.

Finally, after buying a few things, I came back to Berkeley, where the rain had just started coming down with a vengeance. Luckily, the 7 Bus arrived just as I got out of the station, so I took that bus all the way to Clark Kerr. It, too, stank. And it was while riding that bus, at approximately 3:30pm, that I realized I had forgotten to eat anything since I woke up.

Hmm...looking back on the day, it does seem like it was pretty crappy. However, it didn't feel bad, so I guess that's what counts. A positive perspective makes all the difference, so I'd say today was a good - albeit tiring - day.


ASHLEY said...

My optometrist is a tiny middle-aged Korean woman who fits neither of your absolutist categories. So there.

Andrew Schnorr said...

I still stand by my generalizations!