It takes a slow morning, a culturally diverse city like Vancouver and some artistic talent to pull this one off. Don’t try it if you have great talent; you’ll miss the ball and make a fool of yourself.
“Want anything from Starbucks? I’m going out to get some breakfast” Nika says, as she grabs her purse from her bag.
“A bottle of water, thanks.” I’m never big on breakfast. Matthew thinks I didn’t exactly understand Nika’s question and nominates himself as official interpreter on this occasion. Get lost.
Nika does better. She stares at me for a moment as if to make certain I’m not separated from my senses and then; “Since you’re out of ideas I’ll get you a muffin.”
Matthew stops Nika as she turns to the door. “I’m very offended Nika, how come you didn’t ask me what I want?”
“Dude, because you’ve already got your coffee.” Why do they insist on poisoning themselves with all the stuff they drink instead of water? Nika meets a young lady at the door. She holds the door open for Alice to enter and heads off to Starbucks, just round the corner. Wilma greets our prospect warmly, introduces herself and concludes with the inevitable, “How may I help you today?”
It turns out Alice is a patient of ours. She’s dealt with the Surrey outlet in the past, but happens to be in town and wonders if she can have a pair of contacts, since she’s run out of supplies. Wilma explains that she’ll have to call the Surrey outlet for the prescription and proceeds to do that. She returns to Alice after the phone call and asks, “Which brand of contacts do you want?”
Wilma explains, perhaps without enough flourish, that Alice has already had 2 free trials and will have to pay the full price of $40 plus tax, for the pair we issue. With that, she unwittingly provokes a display of pure drama; live, indoor, in the intimate space of our clinic, and with no special effects. Just drama in its pure form.
“You’re going to make me pay for them?” Alice asks with surprise.
“Oh yes; do you think they are free?”
“But I don’t have any money right now, and I thought you give out free trials?”
“Yes we do; 2 free trials and then you have to make up your mind. Surrey told me you already had 2 free trials, so you have to pay for this pair.” Oh great help, Wilma.
“But I don’t have any money,” Alice repeats, as she begins to cry. “You don’t understand; I’m a struggling artist. I don’t have any money. I don’t even have money to do my hair, look at this mess!” She raises both hands to her hair. Now this may require a Security Council resolution. Where’s Rafik?
“I’m sorry I can’t help you. Its company policy.” That’s Wilma for you anyday, not just on a slow, rainy morning. Rafik. And why is it taking Nika so long to get the breakfast from Starbucks?
“I’m a struggling artist; I’ve no money and I can’t see, because I lost one of my contacts.” Wilma looks away and tells Alice she should have been more careful. I go to Alice with a box of tissues in a bid to calm her down. She takes 2 tissues alright, but continues pounding at us with sobs, “Struggling artist” and “No money”. I’ve half a mind to demand that she replace the tissues, but how do you collect in such cases?
After a barrage of sobs, “Struggling artist” and “No money”, came a seemingly innocuous “All my money is online. I’ll pay by Paypal, if you want. That’s all I have. I just need to be able to see!” Yeah, thanks. Wilma takes refuge in the Staff-only toilet, as the bombardment continues.
“I’m sorry Alice, you can’t use Paypal for this purchase,” I explain as courteously as I can. She’s unrelenting … and the roof continues to hold; let something give! Rafik joins us from the back-end of this room that serves as our all-in-one clinic. He has a pair of contacts with him, which he offers to Alice. They’re a courtesy pair, he says. They are free, but not a courtesy pair. They aren’t Harmony brand. We’ve had so many customer complaints on the brand he’s offering Alice, that we’ve stopped issuing them altogether. Security Council resolutions are … well, Security Council stuff.
Alice is happy to leave with the “courtesy pair” and promises to bring us one of her paintings. I picture a van Gogh on our wall, facing the entrance; the first thing you’ll notice when you enter our clinic. And then I begin to wonder. How would we have responded if Alice had that stature when she walked in this morning?
Nika returns with our breakfast. “Where’ve you been, Nika?” Matthew asks, “We just had a classic patient!” No; where have you been, Matthew? Vincentia van Gogh just walked out of here.