I make a lot of mistakes during the course of a day. I don’t know why this particular gaffe sent me over the edge.
I placed an online order to refill my contact lenses. The company asked me to upload a picture of my optometrist’s prescription so they could process my order faster. Sounded simple enough. I found my prescription (no small feat, I must admit) took a picture, and sent it off.
I then received an exceedingly polite notification that I had sent my doctor’s note for glasses, not contacts.
In a world chockfull of epic fails, this really wasn’t that big of a mistake. But something about the gentle tone of the email coupled with the fact that I made the error while attempting to use technology made me feel like a befuddled geezer. I was gutted.
I’m feeling old and a step behind. It sucks.
I find it depressing that I occasionally need multiple attempts to align my car into a perfectly ample parking space. It’s concerning that instead of trying to read anything on my phone, I wait until I’m home in front of a proper 16-inch screen that supports a giant font. And I’m still not over the fact that I didn’t recognize any of the songs played at a wedding I recently attended until the DJ decided to ‘throw it way back’ and spin Rump Shaker.
Instead of chalking up the contacts conundrum to a benign mistake made while rushing along to the next task, I let it morph into a crushing example of my quickly approaching senility. I muttered something suitably old timey, like “dagnabbit,” and then sent the right prescription to customer service with this note:
Whoops, that was embarrassing! Here’s the correct prescription.
I then proceeded to dwell on my impending elderlyness, researching things I might enjoy in the very near future: custom BINGO markers, coupons for Werther’s Original Hard Candies, prune recipes. An electronic ding alerting me to a new email pulled me out of my tailspin:
Thanks for sending us your prescription. NO need to be embarrassed, it happens way more often than not! Everything looks great!
Of course it was a common mistake. Of course it happens to customers of all ages. Of course I was overreacting. It just took a cheerful customer service rep to pull me back to reality.
I’m hard on myself. The people I care about are hard on themselves. We might show it in different ways, but I have a sneaking suspicion that underneath the surface most of us are cringing, hand-wringing and feeling less than adequate. (Right? RIGHT? Please tell me I’m not the only one)
I was surprised how a simple, breezy response to my mistake could make me feel so much better. I decided to try and offer the people in my life this same grace by reacting with a vibe of “oh well” instead of “WTF. We’re doomed.”
This attitude is especially difficult to conjure up when dealing with independence-seeking teenagers as their mistakes are myriad and the consequences weighty. There’s a big difference between a two-year-old wanting to put shoes on all by herself and a 15 ½ -year-old wanting to get behind the wheel of the family car.
Although I can’t go through life in a constant state of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I can pick my battles. And every once in a while I can offer a shrug instead of a wince, cutting loved ones some slack, my ancient self included.
A box filled with contact lenses arrived a few days later, offering improved vision as well as a new way of looking at things.