Routine Vision

“Sorry about that,” I said to the physician after my tears streamed down through my nostril and plopped onto his tailored dress shirt.

You wouldn’t think that a trip to the eye doctor could be awkward in any way, would you? But here I was getting my tear duct drained as it was closed up, and painful. Of course, being blocked, my tears had only one way of escape. Had I known this I might have suggested he roll up his sleeves first. But then, that would have been the control freak in me. And sometimes you just have to let things go … like tears through your nose.

A few months went by and it was time for my annual visit and a follow-up with the doctor. I suppose I should have expected the unexpected based on my first experience, but I was naïvely optimistic as the assistant began my eye exam.

Photo by Ryan Blanding.

“Now is it better on one… or two?”

“Two… or three?”

Her monotone voice droned on as if she were on auto pilot or reading from a script. It was hypnotic.

“Now stare at my right ear and tell me how many fingers I’m holding up.”

“Now stare at my left ear…”

I began to imagine ways that I might throw her off with random comments like, “How long have you been doing this?”Long enough to memorize your lines?“Are all of your appointments scripted like this?” Maybe you should be an actress.

Her last question sounded more like a statement. “Now, Jennifer, can I get you another Kleenex?” she said as I dabbed at the yellow gunk leaking from my eyes.

“No, I’m okay with—,” I said to her back as she opened the door and exited the room.

She led me to a chair in the hallway to wait for the doctor, and delivered her closing line. “Now there’s one more thing I’d like you to do,” she said sweetly, “and that is, enjoy the rest of your day.”

I tried to skim through a few magazines with my blurry, burning eyes, and wondered if the doctor would tell me I needed surgery to create a new tear duct. While I pondered this, the assistant finished up another exam and led the patient out to the hallway. Just then, the doctor motioned me into the next room. As I was walking away, I heard the assistant say, “There’s one more thing I’d like you to do and that is, enjoy the rest of your day.”

“Why, thank you,” said the patient, as if it were the nicest thing anyone had said to her all day.


Note: This was my submission for the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. Sadly, I was not a winner. But I will keep trying! Maybe I’ll get lucky in 2020. 


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