They Work In Eye Care But They Cannot See

, , , , | Working | June 5, 2019

My eye doctor retired a couple of years ago, right around the time his practice stopped taking my insurance, anyway. As a result, I pushed my contact lenses to the limit, because finding a new eye doctor who would take my insurance was troublesome, and I initially wanted to go to a different practice. At last, however, my contacts are so old that I’m worried about damaging my eyes if I continue to wear them, or ripping them with no replacements, so I’m ready to bite the bullet and try a walk-in eye care center for the first time.

It’s late afternoon on Black Friday, and I’m desperate; this is the first time since the situation became dire that I have had any time to do this, and my mother agrees that we will go to the eye care center in the mall, since she has other shopping to do, anyway. We walk in. There are some other customers, but not a massive amount, and there is nobody at the reception desk in the middle of the room.

A young man in his late teens or early twenties comes by a minute later and greets us, but says he can’t do anything for us; he seems to be a low-level employee whose only job is cleaning. A woman stops by at last, and we explain that I need an eye exam to renew my prescription and will make an appointment if none are available for the rest of the day. She says she’ll be with us in a minute, tells us to take a seat, and proceeds to go over to a pair of customers who are looking at glasses and are extremely picky. That’s their prerogative, of course, but after waiting for fifteen minutes with every apparent employee focusing on various glasses customers when all we want is to make an appointment for later if the doctor can’t see us now, I insist that we leave, resigned to having to wait another few days until I had the time to try a different store on the other side of town.

As we are pulling out, I realize that there is a different eye care center in a strip mall right across the street! We walk in; there are three employees sitting behind the counter who greet us immediately, and have no problem squeezing me in for an appointment the next morning when they see how crestfallen I am that the first one they offer is too late in the afternoon, when I’ll already be at work. I have since had nothing but rapid, excellent, and affordable care from them.

If only the employees at the other eye care center had bothered to speak to us for two minutes, I’d be their new patient and customer, instead!

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Not Even Faintly Sympathetic

, , , , , , | Related | May 16, 2019

I have the fun combination of vasovagal syncope and orthostatic hypotension. In layman’s terms, I faint. A lot. I’ve gotten fairly good at knowing and avoiding my triggers, or at least being able to recognize the onset of an episode early enough to mitigate it. That said, I do still actually faint at least once or twice a year, and it’s gotten to the point where it’s honestly more annoying than distressing.

Understandably, though, the people around me are less nonchalant about it. It probably doesn’t help that according to witnesses, my eyes don’t close when I faint.

My favorite example of this is the time I went to the optometrist after many years without seeing one. He used what is apparently either an outdated or just very intense test for glaucoma, because everyone I’ve ever described it to says they’ve never had anything of the sort done. It involved placing my chin on a rest inside this terrifying-looking contraption while he very slowly pressed a little rubber stopper against the surface of my eye. As it turned out, this was a trigger that I did not previously know about — because I don’t make a habit of pressing objects into my eyeballs for minutes at a time — and I passed right out.

When I woke up, I was on the floor with a very flustered nurse keeping watch over me. This was where it got funny, as often when I faint there will be people who simply will not accept my insistence that if they just leave me alone for a few minutes, I’ll bounce right back. The nurse was one of these sorts, and she insisted that she should get me some water, or an ice pack, or anything. I consented to a glass of water more for her sake than mine, but she wasn’t placated. She insisted that she should get my dad from the waiting room. Now, my family is just as used to my little spells as I am, so I warned the nurse that he was not going to be as comforting as she thought, but if she really wanted to, she could go get him.

She came back minutes later, and as soon as my dad saw me lying on the floor in a dark exam room — because the nurse also insisted on turning out the lights for some reason — he just gave a long-suffering sigh and informed me, and I quote, “You’re such a wuss.”

I cracked up laughing. The nurse was horrified.

I got up and walked out under my own power five minutes later. I now warn my optometrists before any and all glaucoma tests, but sometimes they don’t listen and I get to relive the whole situation over, though unfortunately without my dad’s commentary.

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A Spectacle Of A Robbery

, , , , | Legal | April 5, 2019

(I work at an opticians with my mum, who’s the manager. In the middle of the shop is a large rack of sunglasses. The dummy lenses in the frames are tinted like sunglasses for people to try on, but there’s a price sticker on each of them, as well as the words, “Suitable for prescription lenses,” embossed in white font. Because of the embossing, they’re not normally a target for thieves because you can’t wear them with the text there… or so we thought. It’s the middle of the day and the store is quite busy; a coworker is stood in front of the rack acting as a greeter when a heavily pregnant woman comes in.)

Coworker: “Good morning! Is there anything I can help you with today?”

Customer: “Yes. I was wondering if you could tell me about these glasses…”

(She leads him to a different display only a few feet away. There are about five others of us on the shop floor, mostly busy with people, and two more of us are approached by customers almost immediately after my coworker. The man who speaks to me is very skinny and looks kind of nervous.)

Customer: “Hey, yeah, I’m looking for my mum’s glasses; her name’s [Woman’s Full Name].”

Me: “Um, I can’t see any ready to collect for a Ms. [Last Name].”

Customer: “It might be under [Different Last Name].”

Me: *still rummaging in drawers* “I can’t see anything for a Ms. [Different Last Name], either. Hang on, let me check the order list. Can I have her date of birth?”

Customer: “Actually, don’t worry. I’ll just leave it.”

Me: “I’m sure I can find them, just—“

(With that he turns and hurries out, and it’s right then I realise the entire rack of about fifty pairs of sunglasses has been emptied. It takes a few seconds for me to link the theft with a man who has been talking to me the entire time, and I realise he was a distraction. I run out of the shop but it’s too late. When we check the CCTV, there are four people clearly involved. They came in within a few minutes of each other, three made beelines for member of staff, and the other waited briefly before emptying the display into a backpack before they all left at almost the same time. It was amazingly well coordinated, and we still don’t know why they’d want sunglasses with white writing in the way of your vision. We report it to the police and take their photos from the CCTV, and we think that’s all we can do, until a few weeks later when my mum and I are at a car-boot sale.)

Mum: *whispering* “Do you see those?”

Me: “The sunglasses? Yeah, why?”

Mum: “They’re from the shop.”

Me: “They’re just black frame sunglasses, Mum; they all look the same.”

Mum: *to the people at the stall* “Oh! Look at these! How lovely! Let me just try them on!”

(She makes a big pantomime out of trying on these sunglasses and really looking at them.)

Mum: “I’ll think about it.”

Me: *as we move away* “So, they weren’t ours?”

Mum: “No, they are. I’m calling the police.”

(I still didn’t really believe her because there were only a few pairs out and they’re mostly black and brown, generic-looking sunglasses, but when the police turned up they found dozens more pairs in their car. When they had a closer look, they found that the white lettering had been carefully filed off of each pair. They were arrested and eventually found guilty of the theft, though they were only fined. What most surprised me was that they’d gone to all that effort to steal and file down the sunglasses only to end up selling them for £5 each at a car-boot sale!)

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Her “Side” Of The Story Is Very Colorful

, , , | Right | April 3, 2019

(I’m about two weeks into a new job at a well-known chain of opticians when I answer the phone to a customer. The call goes a bit like this.)

Me: “Good morning. Thank you for calling [Opticians]. How can I help?”

Customer: “I am very disappointed with these glasses you made me!”

Me: “I’m very sorry. What seems to be the problem?”

Customer: “My daughter is a hairdresser! She dyed my hair the other day and now there is hair dye on the sides of the glasses and I can’t get it off! I’ve never had it happen with any of my old glasses. There must be something wrong with the material you make them out of!”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that, but unfortunately, there is not a lot we can do about it. We would advise you not to wear your specs when having hair dyed to avoid damaging the frames.”

Customer: “Well, this is stupid! You should have told me that when I bought the glasses! I want a refund!”

Me: “I will just need to check a few things on the system first. Could I take your name, please?”

(I look up the customer on our database and notice that she has had the glasses for over three months. Our store has a no-quibble-no-fuss return policy, but it is only valid for three months after purchase.)

Me: “I’m afraid we are unable to refund you as you have owned the spectacles for over three months. However, if you would like, you can purchase a new frame at half price and we will gladly swap your lenses into it.”

Customer: “I don’t want to pay for a whole new frame! Can’t you just put new sides onto my glasses?”

(We can’t order in spare parts for frames, and I’m not taking apart a brand-new frame, but we do keep a box of spare sides from broken frames where the sides are still functional. We usually use these when people come in with broken glasses.)

Me: “We don’t have any spare parts for your frame, I’m afraid, but we do have a box of temporary sides we keep for people who break their glasses. You’re welcome to come in and we can see if we can find any to fit. There is no guarantee anything will fit, though, and they almost certainly won’t match.”

Customer: “I don’t see why you can’t just refund me! These are obviously not fit for purpose and my daughter is a hairdresser! She dyes people’s hair every day and has never had this problem! There is obviously something wrong with the material they are made out of!”

Me: “Glasses aren’t designed specifically so that hair dye doesn’t stain them! They aren’t advertised as anti-hair-dye-staining, and I’m pretty sure the factory that makes them doesn’t test for ‘stain-ability.’ Put simply, it is not our fault that the hair dye is on them; it is yours for wearing them whilst having your hair dyed.”

Customer: “Fine. Can you just tell me how to get this hair dye out, then?”

(Many of my colleagues are standing across our small store looking at me with bemused expressions. I cover the phone and ask if any of them know how to get hair dye out of plastic. One colleague suggests nail polish remover.)

Me: “Well, you could try nail polish remover, but it would be at your own risk and I can’t guarantee it would work.”

Customer: “Okay, I will try that. Bye.”

(The customer hung up. This was my first time working in such a customer-facing job. It opened my eyes to how weird people can be! I know that she got the hair dye out with nail polish remover because about half a year later she came into the store, recounting the hair dye story and saying that “the girl on the phone” — me — had told her we would put new sides on for her because she didn’t like these ones anymore. We told her we couldn’t change the sides simply because she didn’t like them anymore.)

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Can’t See Why Some People Become Parents

, , , , , | Healthy | February 24, 2019

(Ophthalmologist’s offices in Germany have a rotating system of which office has to stay open for emergencies on the weekends. Today, it’s our office’s turn and I’m manning the front desk. A couple comes in with their five-year-old daughter. She has a very red eye and says it hurts a lot. I take their info and ask how long she’s had those symptoms.)

Mother: “I think since this afternoon — a couple of hours maybe.”

Me: “Okay. Did something happen? Did she get something in her eye?”

Mother: “I don’t think so; I was watching her all the time.”

(The mother looks a little annoyed at my questioning and the father just nods, apathetic. I give some numbing eye drops to the girl to ease the pain and send her right to the doctor. My coworker follows in, only to come back out some minutes later looking rather angry.)

Coworker: “Guess what? This girl has a metal splinter burnt into her cornea.”

Me: “She has what?”

Coworker: “Yes, her father let her watch him using the angle grinder without safety goggles.”

Me: “And he didn’t think that might be kind of… dangerous?”

Coworker: “Apparently not. I’m getting the instruments to get the splinter out.”

(My coworker goes back in to the doctor and they start trying to get the metal out. After a while, the couple and the girl storm past me out of the door, the mother looking angry, the girl rather relieved with a patch on her eye, and the father pouting. My coworker and the doctor come out right behind, looking exhausted.)

Coworker: “WOOOOOW!”

Me: “What happened?”

Doctor: “The girl was wriggling all. The. Time. [Coworker] couldn’t hold her by herself, so I asked the mother to hold the girl, too. When I was just about to pick the splinter out, the mother let her wiggling daughter go and said, ‘Oh, no, I almost got a cramp in my hand,’ and I was thinking, ‘Oh, no, I almost impaled your daughter’s eye, but good for you that you didn’t get a cramp!’”

Me: “What caring parents this girl has…”

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