Nothing more than feelings

A few weeks ago I visited a local optician for new contact lenses. In the past year I’ve had a lot of trouble with my contact lenses. I spent a lot of time (and money) last spring trying to get my eye issues sorted out. Well, improvements were made, but blurriness and irritation continued. So the new local optician was given a laundry list of problems, which he responded to with a commando-style vision test. The optician took my complaints seriously, switched my lens solution and recommended a new style of contact lens. I was elated. This was a wonderful responsiveness that I hadn’t expected. Armed with a set of lenses to “tide me over,” I waited for the new trial set to arrive.

And waited.

A few days later, I phoned the optician’s office. “No,” responded the technician, “We haven’t received them yet. We’ll call you when they come in.” I explained I was leaving soon for a trip out of town. “We’ll call you if they come in before then.” I hung up the phone, ready to go out of town in my “tide you over” lenses, which is exactly what I did.

Back from our trip, I still had not received a message.  On the three week mark (my “tide you over” lenses only being good for two weeks), I called again, ready to ask to speak to a manager. “You’re right,” the tech replied, “They should have been here a long time ago. Let me check the doctor’s supply. He may have figured they were just his trial pairs and put them away himself.” Which is exactly what had happened, I learned, when she phoned back later.

I went in the next day and picked up my new style of contact lenses. “Here you go,” said the tech, “You must be pretty mad about this.”

Well, I was. But it didn’t do to say so, right? “Well…” I equivocated.

“I’d be mad,” said the tech, putting two trial bottles of the recommended lens solution, along with the lenses, into a bag.

I love these new contact lenses–I’m seeing better than I have in almost two years–but the thing I keep thinking about is the disarming way in which the tech identified my feelings and then normalized them. This is one reason why I did therapy–to learn to identify my emotions and accept them. I still stink at it and in this case, I wasn’t going to cop to it. I was ready to “be angry” if I didn’t get the results I wanted (the new trial lenses) but was going to be “diplomatic” if they had showed up, using my emotions rather than just having them. The technician’s candid remarks carried the background meaning “it’s OK to be mad about this. A normal human being would be mad.” This gave me the freedom to have my emotions; to be mad about the delay in getting the lenses.

I’m still mad about the length of time it took me to get the contact lenses, not in a deep- seated, simmering anger kind of way, but in a “not fair!” little-kid-justice kind of way. That’s OK, because I’m really impressed with the technician’s honesty and candor as well as the skill and listening ability of the optician. I will continue to see them for my contact lenses and glasses, and I’ll keep thinking about the technician’s remarkable response to me and why it is I find it so remarkable.

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