Now you’re speaking my language!

Corner Store (film)

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I wasn’t going to post today because I’m a little nervous about how my last post has taken on a life of its own in the comments section and, apparently, real life (read the comments to that post, it’s a weird old world out there), but I just had to post about this.

There’s a convenience store across the street from my apartment and, as I’m inordinately fond of both Red Bull and strawberry soda and have cravings for both at odd hours, the store plays a fairly regular part in my life.  It’s run by a family, not just a bunch of random clerks, and they’ve gotten to know me somewhat over the years.  They like to guess what I’m going to buy each time–is it Fanta?  Is it Doritos?  Why do I not weigh 300 pounds?  Yeah, my doctor would like to know that one as well.

I went in there tonight pretty late, actually expecting that they might be closed at that point, but they were open.  When I went in, two of the family were working and they were having what I’ll describe as an animated discussion–affectionate, but certainly lively.  I don’t know what it was about, exactly, because it was in a different language.  But as I walked in, they switched their argument into English for my benefit!  Now that’s what I call customer service.  You just don’t get that at 7-11.  Well, actually, the clerks at 7-11 know me as well, but that’s a whole different story.

Little Blind Girl visits the optometrist

US Navy 100922-N-5821P-032 Cmdr. Amy Burin, as...

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Even though I’m legally blind, I do go to the optometrist and get a prescription for glasses.  I don’t wear them a lot because they give me headaches, they’re very heavy…oh, let’s face it.  I don’t wear them because they make me look like a dork.  I assume.  I’m going by the way guys will turn to me and say, “Oh, hi–oh, my God!” and shortly afterward find themselves urgently needing to leave.  So I don’t go with the glasses in public that often, but they’re still nice to have for when I’m at home.  Alone.  In private.  With no one else around.

I’d gotten used to my old optometrist.  He understood my quirks and visual eccentricities.  They’d have been visual insanities, but his fees were really high.  He also managed not to laugh until after I had left his office, which I always appreciated.  So I wasn’t thrilled when, the next time I made an appointment, there was a new guy in the office.  He was very nice, I assumed as always that he was strikingly good looking, but he wasn’t my guy.  But you take what you can get, with optometrists as with dating.  I warned his staff ahead of time that I’m a little different and then just showed up on the appointed day.

So we started the examination with a test of my depth perception.  I was supposed to focus on an object while he covered and then uncovered one of my eyes.  Dutifully, I stared at the object.  Seconds passed.  “Focus on the object,” he said.  I focused again, as much as I could.  More seconds passed.  “I need you to focus on the object,” he said again, with that exaggerated patience people show when they know so much better than you do.  I sighed, focused as best I could, and waited.  There’s a breaking-in period with any new optometrist, when you’re legally blind.

“Why aren’t you focusing on the object? Are you having problems?” he asked.  What I wanted to say was, “You’re the eye doc.  You tell me.  Oh wait, you’re not really a doctor, are you?  Maybe I should go to a real eye doctor!”  What I actually said, because you never know when these things are going to get back to your mother, was “I’m doing the best I can, I just don’t have any depth perception.”  He wrote some stuff on his clipboard, probably to make himself feel like a real doctor, and moved on to the next test.

The next test was of peripheral vision.  Again, one eye was covered, and I had to tell the doctor when his hand came into view out of the corner of my other eye.  He covered one eye, and I sighed a little to myself and waited.  Seconds passed again.  “You really can’t see my hand?” he asked.  “No, I really can’t,” I replied, and I don’t think I used that tone of exaggerated patience that he had used, but I really wanted to.

Finally I saw his hand and said so.  “Wow, I’ve never examined anyone with a loss of peripheral vision that dramatic!” he remarked, all cheerful, as he made more I-wish-I-were-a-real-doctor notes on his clipboard.  Now, what does one say to that?  Thanks?  I’ve been working really hard at it?  I sat on my hands (to keep from doing the face-palm slap) and waited for the next test.

Eventually, we got to the part where I had to read out lines on a chart across the room.  “Read out loud the lowest line you can make out,” he told me.  I really, really wanted to work with him.  It’s nice to have glasses that let me see enough to read a large-print book. But…”I’m sorry, sir–where’s the chart?”

Nope, not exaggerating!  This story ends with me getting referred to an out-of-town specialist who, I sincerely hope,  has actually read my file.  It does not end with me getting glasses.  The interesting part was when the new guy wanted to get paid.  At that point, I’d about had it, and I gave him a Look.  That part of my vision he seemed to understand perfectly.  Finally, we’re seeing eye to eye!