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Wal-ternate Reality

March 7, 2007

I opened the drawer to get a new pair of contacts this morning and discovered I was on my last pair. I got online to order new contacts and, surprise of surprises, my prescription was expired… two years expired. This is typical in my household. Everyone else in the family is up to date on eye exams, but somehow I seem to have missed mine in 2006.

Perhaps someone threw away the postcard I usually get in the mail that reminds me to go. Perhaps the postcard is really buried in the enormous mound of unread and unopened mail on the desk. Perhaps I forgot to get an exam because the disposable contacts I get last far longer than the month you’re supposed to wear them (bad optical patient, bad optical patient!). Perhaps I just plain put it off because I’m so dang busy hauling everyone else in the family to the dentist, doctor, swimming lesson, school program, playdate, (insert other activity here).

Regardless of the reason, I have not had an exam in two years and I cannot order contacts until I have one. This means I have a tiny window of opportunity to get in and get an eye exam before this pair of contacts gives out on me. Murphy’s Law dictates that when I actually become aware that this is my last pair of contacts, one will tear and the optical center will not have an opening for at least three weeks, so this window is probably about 3 hours long. Further, our vision insurance has recently changed and our usual eye doctor now costs us one million dollars out of pocket. This leads me to Wal-Mart — eye exams for the low, low price of fifty bucks. In and out quick, get the prescription, order online, and drive on with life.

I make the call and they are able to get me in this afternoon. Hallelujah! It just so happens that I have taken this afternoon off and I don’t have to take anyone anywhere, so it’s a date. The exam itself is pretty quick and painless. I’m in and out in about 30 minutes and I’m thinking, except for the fact that my left eye is now basically useless and I probably have less than five years of driving before they take my license for being blind as a bat in one eye, I’m doing pretty well. I should just take my prescription and hit the door. Instead, in my infinite wisdom, I make the mistake of asking a question…

It’s a pretty simple question, really. I just ask the doctor if the prescription, written on an ordinary scrip pad, would be entered into the computer. I ask so that when I get online to order my contacts the big, glaring, red, EXPIRED warning will be gone, saving me the hassle of calling my neighborhood Wal-Mart to hunt down the prescription and enter it. The doctor is more than happy to walk me up front and ask the clerk to do so. The clerk nods and smiles and the doctor heads back to her office.

As soon as the door to the doctor’s office closes, the clerk, who had just a second ago nodded and smiled about entering the prescription into the system, picks up the prescription, glances at it for a moment, hands it to me and says, “You should be all set.”

At this point I’m a little confused. I saw the doctor write the prescription on the aforementioned ordinary scrip pad and walk it out to the clerk, but I have seen absolutely no one enter it into the system, so I’m wondering how it is that I’m “all set.”

“Are you sure?” I ask.

“Yep, you should be all set,” she replies, still holding the prescription out to me.

“Really?” I ask again, still perplexed about how I can possibly be “all set.”

“Yep,” she says again.

“Hmmm… So, it’s in the system then?” I ask.

“Yep,” she says. “It goes in as soon as it’s written.”

Now, I’m thinking that maybe Wal-Mart has some new wireless doohicky that beams the prescription into the system. Maybe Wal-Mart has inserted some kind of new device into the doctor’s fingers, like the Wii, that enters the prescription into the system as it’s being written. Maybe Wal-Mart just knows the thoughts of all of its employees and as soon as the doctor thinks that it should be the prescription, POOF, there it is in the system.

Short of any of those options, I KNOW that this prescription is not in the system because no one has actually typed the letters and numbers into the keyboard that is connected to the system!

I think of a thousand really sarcastic comments, but instead just say, “I need to buy some envelopes. Maybe you could just check the system for me while I run back and grab those?”

She nods and smiles.

I go to the Office Supplies section to look for envelopes thinking that maybe if I give her enough time she’ll really check and find out that the prescription cannot be telepathically entered. Maybe she’ll just turn her brain on and realize how silly that whole concept is. Maybe…

I look for envelopes. I peruse the scrapbooking section. I check out a couple of cards. I listen to two employees argue in the paper aisle over product placement. I grab a Diet Dr. Pepper for the road. I think it’s been long enough. I return to the Optical Center and there’s the clerk, with my prescription in hand. She rings up my envelopes and my soda, hands me the prescription and says, “You should be all set.”

Not wanting to open any more Pandora’s Boxes, I decide to just hit the door, like I should have done in the first place. I’ll wait a couple of days and see if my information made it. Maybe the big, red, glaring EXPIRED warning will be gone. Maybe my new prescription will be there and I won’t have to call and ask someone to hunt it down. Maybe I really am “all set”… however it happened.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Lynda permalink
    March 9, 2007 3:06 am

    I’m not sure if you know this, but my daughter is now working in the Vision Center at Wal-Mart. I think I must share this with her! I am anxious to know if you got that EXPIRED warning!

  2. March 9, 2007 4:49 pm

    Most unfortunately, it still says my prescription is EXPIRED… sigh. I guess I’ll have to make the call. 🙂

  3. March 12, 2007 11:12 pm

    Wireless doohickeys…This is so funny, but as I mentioned before, my mission is to see how long I can go before entering Walmart…thus not bringing anymore Walmart employee stress (see your husband’s knee) upon myself.

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