June 11, 2008

The Post Office Lady wants contact lenses

The following article is a follow up guest blog from Leslie, a former Peace Corps worker in La Esperanza, Honduras, during 2000-2002. Leslie now lives and works in the Dominican Republic where you can find her at Back in One Piece. After reading her first guest post, I asked if she had ordered the contacts lenses for the postal worker as she requested. This is her reply:

Order contacts? No way! It came about thusly: I wear gas permeable (hard) contact lenses and one of them tore in half during my service, so I had my parents send me a new pair. The Post Office Ladies opened the package (of course) and asked me what it was. I told them and they immediately got excited. One Lady asked what I was going to do with my old pair. I said I would keep them in case I lost one of the new ones. She said, "Well, why don't you give them to me, so I can wear them?"

I explained that contact lenses were like glasses and tailored to the individual who wears them. Blank look... "But I've always wanted blue eyes," was her response. Again, I explained that my contact lenses were for vision only − my extremely poor vision, in fact − and that they would not change the color of her eyes at all. I told her that they would actually be very uncomfortable and cause her a lot of pain. She let it go. For about a week.

The next week she said that she heard you could order contact lenses on line for very cheap and would I please order her some. Now, like a lot of expats living overseas, I feel very uncomfortable when I am asked to do something like this. I hate buying something overseas knowing that I can get it for 10 times cheaper in the US, and I'm a nice person (so I think) and like to help out. However, I had been burned before with these types of favors, so I laid out my ground rules for helping people out.

I said that if she did all the work − told me EXACTLY what type she wanted, paid me in full in advance and excused me from all liability in the case of loss or dissatisfaction, then I would order them for her. She made a face and said, "Well, I don't want to pay in full." So I shook my head and said, "Sorry, can't do it then."

She tracked me down a day later and said she would pay in advance. Suddenly a thought occurred to me. "Do you even wear glasses?" I asked. "No." "Do you have a prescription? Have you visited an eye doctor?" "No." I then had to go through and explain the concept of contact lenses and how it was like going to a doctor an getting a prescription for medicine when you are sick − you have to know the right type to get for your eyes.

She wasn't happy with that and said, "Well, just order me what you have and that will be fine." I tried to explain that the US was very strict about medicine and prescriptions and you couldn't just walk into a pharmacy and get whatever you needed, like in Honduras. I again reiterated that I would not order anything without her herself doing the work to get it, certainly not without a prescription. This back-and-forth went for for several weeks until she realized I was serious and wouldn't do it on her conditions.

Thank you again, Leslie, for sending the blog article!

If you would like to submit a guest blog article, it will be greatly appreciated by me and my two bum fingers
. Send it to me at my email address in the "About me" section at the top of the page. Photos are welcomed, too. Don't worry about formatting or spelling. You can send it as a text file or just include the text in your email.
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