There’s a tree outside my bedroom window.
Actually, for most of the winter “outside” hasn’t been the most accurate description. High winds last fall shredded my window screen, and since then I’ve been getting better acquainted with the nearby nature.
Last week, however, I finally accepted that it is okay to ask Maintenance to fix things sometimes, and now I have new screens. I think the tree misses our friendship, though, because it keeps trying to reestablish contact. For the last several nights, I’ve been discovering a fine spray of purple leaf litter blown across my pillow and down between the sheets.
I can’t find the hole, though, and I like keeping the window cracked, so every time I just go to bed and trust my arboreal companion not to shed at me too much. I guess that means it’s my fault that I woke up this morning with an entire branch inside my left eyeball.
I pawed at my scorching cornea until I had a really good cryface going.
Then I appealed to my roommates for eye drops, but none were to be found. I even fashioned an eyecup from a foam egg carton and tried to wash the interloper out, but all I got was water down my shirt to match the mucus all over my face.
The roommates left for work while visions of permanent optical scarring danced in my head.
Luckily, my parents live in the same town and are really good at answering distress calls. I called home and, while I worked on scaling down my panic enough to put on shoes, my mom drove up in her Minivan of Mercy.
She took me to the nearest optometrist, where we met the person I have chosen to blame for all my suffering.
It turns out that Wal-Mart’s optical department doesn’t open until 9:00. We decided to wait, since it was already about 8:30, and I did a pretty good job of not looking at stuff or dripping snot on anything.
Finally the receptionist who sells you miniature screwdrivers and clip-on sunglasses arrived. I didn’t check her heart rate or anything, but I’m pretty sure she was both present and conscious for the following conversation:
Let’s fast-forward fifteen minutes. Fifteen looong, bench-huddling, waiting room minutes. I could see a little better, but blinking still stung and I was anxious to make it to work instead of burning up my leave hours in Wal-Mart. Keep in mind that, at this point, my mother and I had been sitting ten feet from the receptionist, discussing eyeballs, for a quarter of an hour.
Possible reactions to this news:
Polite Response (suitable for nuns, Peace Corps volunteers, and other people who are legitimately as nice as I like to imagine myself)
Reasonable Response Under the Circumstances (suitable for someone who has been waiting an hour for an emergency visit to this weekend-loving doctor)
Actual Response (neither suitable nor effective)
The good thing about unanticipated public bawling is that it’s pretty useful against massive flakes of tree dander. By the time we got back to my mom’s car I had washed away both the leaf and my dignity, and I was ready to go to work and pretend that my face looked like that because of allergies.
The day turned out all right after that, though. This success is mostly thanks to my mother, who, as she took me back to my apartment, discovered a stash of leftover Valentines chocolate in the car console.
We can learn three lessons from this story, as follows:
- Leaves are not as innocent as they seem.
- Some people really suck at their jobs.
- Moms can fix a lot of stuff, especially when they augment their powers with chocolate.