by Paul Melvin

IT’S A WAITING GAME…to get new glasses. My appointment is for 1 P.M. I never saw a doctor so busy. I got my appointment within a week because the nurse said the doctor was not very busy. He had a number of cancellations due to illness and bad weather. I would hate to see his office when he was busy! A long line of us inch from a row of chairs in the waiting room to a row of chairs in the “inner office” where a lovely nurse puts our record cards in a slot. We sit transfixed, watching the cards drop one by one to the bottom of the holder. Then the doctor picks my card and I follow him into an examining room. He asks me questions and instructs me to read very small letters and numbers on a screen at the far end of the room. I think I do quite well. He doesn’t. He takes my glasses away. I can’t even see the screen. Yep, I need new glasses!

Then it’s back to the waiting game and musical chairs again. My card is back in the top of the rack to work its way down to the bottom again. This time the nurse fills my eyes to overflowing with drops and more drops…tilt your head back, drops, cotton over the eyes, tilt back again, more drops…stinging, blinding, itching…then fuzzy vision. A pleasant voice tells me it will be about forty-five minutes until the drops work on my eyes enough for a proper examination. “Go out and go shopping, take a walk or sit in the waiting room and read.” she says. I can’t even read a billboard! I elect to take a walk.

Now, a person with drops in his blurry eyes is a candidate for arrest. You’re the most suspicious person in the world…at least you look that way to other people. You’re never quite sure where you are…or where you’re going. You peer at everything. Pretty girls interpret this blurry peering for slurry leering, and you get some very nasty comments. It’s probably just as well that you can’t see their expressions. But, finally the waiting game is at an end. I stagger back to the doctor’s office, throw open the door and find twice as many people there than before. Everyone stayed in the office to wait out the drops but me. Their cards are all neatly arranged in the slot, and mine is last in line! I had stayed away exactly forty five minutes according to instructions and the big Western Union clock on the wall. I can’t even read my watch.

Again, good ‘ole musical chairs and in less than an hour and a half I am back in the doctor’s examining room squinting at the screen again. This time numerous adjustments, questions, straightenings, and finally the right combination of lenses to fit my failing eyes. At last! No more waiting! But, wrong. “Come in here.” purrs the good looking nurse as she saunters ahead of me into a darkened room. Forget it, bud. It may be dark, but this gal knows her way around the office blindfolded – which is better than you can do with your squinty, bleary eyes. She asks me to sit in a chair. That’s simple and sate enough – until she snaps the thing back so fast I get whiplash. I’m stunned as I stare at – of all things – a heart…a red paper heart pasted to the ceiling! “Stare at the heart.” she purrs. I stare, and wham! More drops! These drops really sting! Now I can hardly see. I can’t move my eyes! Somewhere in the blackness she’s telling me that the drops will affect my eyes for about twenty minutes…and leaves me alone in the semi-darkness staring down a lousy paper heart…and the heart’s winning.

She’s back! She gaily tells me she’s going to “test my pressure”, which by this time is right up to the boiling point. Quickly, deftly she plops a little instrument against each eyeball and says, “You’re okay.” and slams the chair to a vertical position, almost depositing me on the floor in front of it. She points me toward the door explaining that I should come around to the payment window. Bleary and blurred I stagger to the payment window…as if I haven’t paid enough! She thrusts the bill at me and says that a “small deposit” is due now and the rest when my glasses are ready. I pay – gladly – grope my way into my coat, lurch and leer my way over to my car…and wait there until my eyes clear up so I can drive home. Elapsed time 4-1/2 hours!

I have to go back and get my new glasses now. They’re ready. I wonder what little “goodies” they will think up for me this time.