Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Eye Yi Yi
As mentioned in yesterday's blog, I went for consultation to the offices of William "John Wilkes" Boothe, he of Boothe Eye Care and Laser Center. I had heard only two words to describe the process used by Dr. Boothe to prepare patients for LASIK surgery..."assembly line". As the queen of Sheba noted, "the half has not been told."
I should have known something was up when we arrived. I was expecting a medical building with perhaps two or three floors devoted to his practice. Instead, we found him to be in a strip shopping area with no parking spaces available. The reason none were available was because there must have been 50+ patients inside.
The waiting room reminded me of when I kick the top off a fire ant mound. Patients and technicians are everywhere, scrambling through doors, fighting for empty seats. We arrived at 3 PM sharp. They called my name at 3:40. For the next four hours, I was paraded from one cramped room to another, getting eyes measured and payment worked out. Often I would be escorted to a tiny room for still another measurement only to find three other techs in the same room conducting tests on other patients. I literally had to step over the legs of these patients to get to the stool where I would sit for my exam.
But most of the time was spent waiting. They would do a test and send me back to the waiting room (nee, anthill) for 25 minutes of claustrophobic amusement. In this room, I had expected to find, shall we say, "upscale" patients. Uh, just the opposite. At the risk of sounding elitist, let me just say that Boothe's patients were 50% Mexican, 25% Black, and 25% Anglo. There were two things that kept me from leaving the joint and dropping the whole idea: (1) the multitude of endorsements from famous people that line the walls of the waiting room...famous athletes, famous radio personalities, famous actresses. I figure if they were unhappy with their results, they wouldn't be allowing John Wilkes to display their glowing letters of praise. (2) I want the end result...clear vision without glasses or contacts. I made up my mind to tolerate this madhouse because the finished product was gonna be worth it.
Finally saw the man himself around 7:00. In all my years, I have never heard any human speak in such a monotone. It was as though he were an actor trying for a part that represented a dull, simple man who couldn't put inflection in his speech pattern. I thought for a second he must be putting us on, that any moment he would exclaim, "Just kidding!" in a jovial voice. He never raised his voice level until he started flirting with Carole, who was sitting attractively in the corner. He noticed she was toting around the South Beach Diet book and this led them to five minutes or so of diet talk. I wouldn't call his conversation animated, but it at least proved to me that he wasn't a robot.
He does his first LASIK procedure starting at six in the morning. He goes until nine at night. Six days a week. Many of the technicians there match his hours. I asked one guy why he did it. He said he got paid by the hour so the money was great.
I have to be there at 5:30 next Monday morning. The surgery is slated for 6:30. Please say a prayer for me. And him. I've got tickets to a show at Ford's Theatre that night and I don't want to miss it.
Posted by Tim Perkins at 12/14/2005 08:59:00 AM