Oozing Sympathy
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I don't know if it's like this where you work, but we're such kind-hearted people such that when someone is having a baby, or a wedding, or an unfortunate situation befalls them, someone usually takes up a collection. One of the most recent was a co-worker who is being ordained as a minister, so we took up a collection for flowers and everybody brought food in, some of us brought gifts, and we had a little party to celebrate our friend's hard work. Another co- worker had a brain aneurysm. She was a graduate student with no health insurance, so we took up a collection to help her out with her expenses while she was recuperating. Most recently another co-worker was out because she had shoulder surgery, so a collection was taken up for a gift and the welcome back card was passed around for everyone to sign.

I, too, experienced a recent event of my own. See, I work nights, and I get home late, and sometimes I'm just not with it in the morning. One morning in particular, I woke up and my eye was itchy. I made a mental note to put some Visine in it when I had a chance. I got the kids ready for school and sent them out to the bus. Yawning, I shuffled into the kitchen in my white pajamas with the green pine trees on them, rubbing my head, and then I remembered the eye drops. I stuck my hand in my pocketbook and fished around for the bottle. I tipped my head back and put a little pressure on the bottle. Sometimes I end up with the drops all over my face, but this time my aim was perfect. And in the millisecond before the stream hit my eye I realized that eye drops don't come out in a stream of liquid and the bottle in my hand was not Visine. It was fungicide for a nail infection. I immediately closed my eyes, but not before the fungicide hit me in the dead center of my eyeball.

I cannot begin to describe the pain. Childbirth didn't hurt this much. My eye burned so badly I was sure my eyeball was going to be marbleized, with the colors of the iris and pupil melding with the white. That is, if I could ever get my eyes open again. The reflex that makes the eye close in trauma was so strong that the other eye shut and I couldn't get that one open either. So there I was, in my pajamas with the green pine trees on them, stumbling around the kitchen feeling for the faucet, making noises like, "Ah! Ah! Arck!" and uttering sundry other choice words as I fell over my dogs. I pointed the dish sprayer on the sink right at my eye and tried to flush it, but it was no use because I couldn't get my eye open to get the water in. I pried open the good eye, found the phone and dialed my sister, who works at a preeminent eye hospital in Boston, and told her what I did. She told me to keep flushing, and if it didn't feel better in a couple of hours, to call her back. So I took to the bed with a wet facecloth, hoping I could fall asleep for a couple of hours and my eye would be better when I woke up. But it was not to be. After an hour, I couldn't stand the pain anymore. I called a friend for a ride, and she picked me up and took me, sniveling and clutching my facecloth, to the preeminent eye hospital where neon-green liquid was flushed from my eye. After a thorough examination, I was sent home with a pouch full of eye drops and a prescription for Percocet because the doctor said my eye would be "very, very painful."

It was a week before I could see clearly again, and thus I was out of work.

But there was no collection. There was no get well card.

While signing the latest card making the rounds around the office, I asked my boss why, after being out of work for a week when I hurt my eye, nobody gave me a get-well card. She told me it was because they were all too embarrassed for me, and they were laughing and talking about me.

The bottom line is this: If you are blessed with a new baby or a wedding or other happy event, or if you are befallen by an injury or disease, you get a card and a collection. But if you are stupid enough to squirt a caustic chemical in your eye, you don't get a card. You don't get anything. Nada.

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