I am truly beginning to think that a great majority of the human race has turned stupid.
I've been having trouble with my eyes lately...red like I've been crying for hours, and blurry vision. Sometimes they even twitch. There have been a number of unofficial diagnoses from well-meaning friends: allergies (hay fever, dog, cat, dust), dehydration, change of season. For a month now I've been struggling with this problem, which is much worse in the morning. Normally I can read without benefit of contacts or prescription glasses, but need either of the above to see distances. For the last four or so weeks I can't see with my glasses on, and can't read without lenses until much later in the day, and even then my vision hasn't been right. The left eye has been distinctly worse than the right.
So today I went out of town on errands and decided to stop in at a local vision place to get a check-up. When I walked in I noticed that a couple of teenagers seemed to be running the show. I went to the desk and asked the girl if I could see someone, explaining my situation. I said in what I'm confident was clear English "I'm having trouble seeing."
"Uh," she said. "Maybe you should go see an ophthalmologist."
"Yes, well, that certainly is an option but at the moment I'd just like to have someone here take a look. Can they determine if I have allergies?"
"Uh," she said. "Yes."
"Is there someone here who can give me an exam?"
"Uh," she said. "Yes."
I raised my eyebrows at her.
"Uh," she said. "Okay, fill out this form."
Whereupon she handed me a clipboard clamped onto a foot-long sheet of paper. On the paper, as far as I could tell, were about 30 questions in tiny little typeface. To my blurry eyes, the type looked like fleas.
"I can't fill this out, dear," I said to her. "As I mentioned, I CAN'T SEE."
She gave me a blank stare, one you might expect to get from a parakeet peering out from a cage. She didn't offer ask me these evidently vital questions and fill the form out herself. She just looked at me, her mouth hanging open in a little "O."
Okay, I'm thinking. I'm dealing with a moron here. So I asked what I thought was a perfectly reasonable question considering I was in a store with about a thousand pairs of eyewear mounted on the walls around me.
"Do you have some reading glasses I can borrow?"
"Uh," she said. "No."
Resisting the urge reach across the desk and throttle her, I set the clipboard down and said "Fine. I'll go someplace else." She didn't try to talk me out of it, didn't say "Oh hey, wait, of course we have reading glasses here," or "I'll fill out the form for you, I can tell by your bloodshot eyes you must be in some discomfort." She simply let me go, not caring a bit that whatever money I was willing to pay the business wasn't happening. I imagine she was shrugging as I turned my back to her and thinking, "Whatever."
Happily, it didn't take long for me to find another place to get medical attention. The nice receptionist there asked me a couple of questions, wrote the answers down herself, and hustled me into the doctor's office. And it was a good thing. I have a viral infection in both corneas which, according to the examiner "look like sandpaper," have been instructed to avoid wearing contacts for at least a month, and maybe for as long as six months. I was given drops and ointment, then scheduled another appointment in two weeks. My vision right now is awful (forgive any typos that I might not catch), but I'm at least relieved to have had the issue identified and that some medical folks are keeping track of the problem. We're attacking it head-on, with treatment and monitoring.
Maybe I'm looking at the past through rose-colored glasses (no pun intended), but I don't recall life being so trying "back then." It shouldn't be necessary, when somebody needs medical attention, to fight to find competent people. There's so much talk about unemployment, about throngs of smart, capable folks out of work. So why in the world is this brainless teenybopper in a position to turn someone away and potentially cause damage to a person's vision? Because indeed, had I given up and gone home, or had I been unable to find the competent people I needed, who knows what might have been the result?
Maybe I'm the stupid one to think that life just shouldn't be this hard.