But back to Thursday, I went to my eye doctor after work. He's a really nice guy, and I've been seeing him since I was around 15 years old. The Lasik people want you to coordinate with an eye doctor for your followup exams and such, so naturally I went with him. (He thanked me for picking him at one point, and I just shrugged, "Come on... where else would I go?"
So he dilated my eyes, and did the exam. Then he sent me home. With my eyes dilated I can't see anything up close. Things look blurry and weird. Also my eyes are very light-sensitive. I can see distance fine, which is what I need to drive. He said I should be fine driving home, just to be extra careful. I reassured him that I only lived a couple of miles away, so I didn't have far to go.
What I didn't tell him was that, when I got in the car, I would decide to go christmas tree shopping. I'd been wanting to find a small pre-lighted tree. I thought if I had something easy and convenient like that, I'd be more likely to actually decorate my house for christmas.
My first thought was simply to stop at the local hardware store on my way home. It's almost right across the street from his office, so not out of my way at all. So I walked in and put on my sunglasses. It was night outside, but the indoor lights hurt my dilated eyes. I wandered through the aisles, feeling very surreal. I could see everything down the aisle in front of me, but the stuff right next to me was too close to be able to easily see or read. Even so, I quickly realized they weren't selling any christmas stuff.
When I got back into my car, I figured I might as well just go to Franks. I know they have tons of christmas stuff, plus they are going out of business and selling off everything. They weren't likely to have anything, but if they did it would be super-cheap. I thought at least I could zip through and verify that they didn't have anything, then I could look elsewhere the next day. Franks was only a few miles out of my way after all.
I got to Franks, put my sunglasses back on, and wandered once again through the aisles. It wasn't long before I found a small forest of artificial trees, of all shapes and sizes! Some had lights, some didn't. At first everything was way too tall, but then I found it -- a cute little 4'5" tree, covered in colored lights! Exactly what I was looking for, and only $30!
I must have looked completely stoned, walking through that indoor forest of fake trees, wearing my sunglasses, peering stupidly at tags, moving my head back and forth trying to read them.
Once I found my tree, I didn't know what to do. I knew it was a going-out-of-business sale, so I thought maybe it was just "what you see is what you get". Should I just grab this little tree, toss it in a cart, and take it to the register? I looked around, but if they had any explanatory signs I couldn't read them. Then I proceeded to hover worriedly.
I wanted to find a salesperson to ask. But there were lots of other people in the store. If this was the only tree of its kind, I didn't want somebody else to buy it while I looked for a salesperson! So I couldn't stray too far. I kept drifting in one direction or another, trying to keep my little tree in my sights while looking for somebody who looked like they were employed. There were shoppers everywhere, rummaging through the various aisles and bins. People were strolling through the forest looking at trees, and I eyed them suspiciously if blearily.
At one point, I decided that the floor model must be for sale. After all some of the other trees had boxes next to them, and this one had none. So I squatted down and tried to figure out how to unplug its lights. There was a mass of power outlets and cords from the various trees. I eventually traced mine with my fingers, because I couldn't see well enough. Then I unplugged it.
I stood up and glanced around again, furtively looking for a salesperson or somebody to tell me I was doing something wrong. I saw a cart nearby, so I shrugged internally. I bunched the cord up around the tree and uncertainly tried to pick it up.
The top came off in my hands. I had decapitated a christmas tree!
I quickly tried to stick the top part back into the main part before I was noticed. It had a triangular hole, hard to see among the needles, and once again I had to feel with my fingers to line up the angles. My face blushing furiously, I finally jammed the thing back together.
Then I stood up, hands behind my back, glancing innocently around as though I'd done nothing peculiar. Once I verified that nobody was staring at me, I decided I needed to ask somebody for help. I went all the way to the front of the store and asked a cashier. She didn't know, but she told me to look for a tall redhead -- he would know what to do. I hurried back to my tree -- nobody had taken it while I was gone! I sighed with relief. But there were no tall redheads around either.
Finally after some more pacing territorially back and forth for awhile, I found the redhead. "Which tree do you want to buy?" he asked me.
I glanced around and realized with horror that I had wandered too far; I couldn't see it any more! I raced through the forest, the redhead on my heels, then found my little tree where I had left it. Whew. I gestured dramatically: "This tree!"
"Oh, okay. You just take this tag, give it to the cashier, and we'll pull a box out of the back for you." He pulled a card out of the tag attached to the tree. I held it in my hands and peered at it through my sunglasses -- I couldn't read it.
Embarrassed, I admitted that I'd thought this was the only one left, and I'd been about to put it in my cart. I started to try to plug it back in for him, but he reassured me, "That's okay, I'll take care of it." I'm not sure, but I think I saw amusement in his fuzzy features.
I went to the front and stood in line. By the time I got to the cashier, my redhead had already pulled out a boxed version of my tree. I paid for it, hefted the box over my shoulder, and walked out of the store.
I took my sunglasses off and while putting it in my trunk I remembered: there was a Chinese buffet in this same strip mall that I used to enjoy. Chinese food sounded tasty, and getting something here would mean I wouldn't have to worry about anything once I finally made it home. I was already out... So I shoved my hands in my pockets and walked across the parking lot.
At the buffet, I told the guy I wanted a carryout. He gave me a box and said I could fill it with whatever I wanted. This seemed great, until I actually got to the food. I couldn't really see it well. For some reason I was able to read the labels, but I couldn't make out the actual food. Well I could see that it was there, but it all blurred together. I couldn't tell what was chicken, mushrooms, sauce, or whatever. So I based my selections entirely on what the labels said. I picked up the spoons and slopped various things into my box, hoping that somehow I would end up with something I actually liked.
By now I knew that it was well past time for me to head home! I paid for my Mystery Chinese Food, walked back to my car, and drove uneventfully home.
It turns out that I did like a few of the items I'd put in my box, enough to fill me up at least. And in less than three weeks -- Lasik! Perfect vision, for the rest of my life! (hopefully) Also, I'm going to ask for the x-ray vision package with infrared, because I think that would be cool.