We can control the stickiest of phoropters. We can control chronic blepharitis. We can even control what type of toilet paper we use in the office. (Hint: Let your staff pick it out.) However, this year has taught us that we cannot control the weather.

Recently, I thought about the weather when my neighbor came in for new glasses. His old ones blew off during a storm at Sleepy Hollow Golf Club, where I was a member until this year. (I did the math and figured out that I played so little that each round came to about $700. It would be cheaper to play Pebble Beach every year.)

Anyway, he was playing Sleepy when a storm suddenly blew up. The wind gusted so powerfully that it blew the glasses right off his face! This occurred at 2:34 on a Thursday afternoon.

Interestingly, at 2:32 that same day, I said Amen, as I finished praying to be able to pay my bills that week. (With results like that, I should teach practice management.) Believe it or not, my neighbor found his windblown glasses days later under a tree at the club. Now he has two pairs, and all is well.

Nice Day for Pigeon Exudates
When we see patients, we deal with many issuesfrom insurance to insertion of punctal plugs. Yet day after day, year in and year out, the number one topic by far in any optometric office is the weather. Every patient says one of the following:

What a nice day!

We sure could use the rain!

Its too (cold, hot, wet, dry, foggy, clear ... just choose one)!

Hey, pal, can you spare some plywood? (Used only in Florida.)

I spend more time chatting about the weather than chatting about the patients eyeballs. This has become such a problem that I feel we should be able to charge the patient for the weather consult. After all, no insurance company I ever heard of will pay for a weather consult. That means we can charge whatever we want.

In my office, weather takes on its own life. For one thing, half of my patients have a garden. No, not a sissy flower garden. Im talking corn, beans, tomatoes and the occasional illegal substance/glaucoma med. This is Wild, Wonderful West Virginia. People garden until they are dead. They love to bring stuff to me. Im talking corn, beans, tomatoes and the occasional glaucoma medicationthe latter of which I politely refuse, as my IOPs are 12mm Hg.

The biggest reason I always consider the weather in my office has to do with the fact that whenever it rains, my office floods. No, we are not near the water. However, there is a shared airshaft between our old building and the next old building, which fills up with water like a bathtub every time it rains more than a quarter inch. Then, the water and associated pigeon exudates run under my back door. Lovely. Now, I do not own the building. The owner is in New York City, where pigeon exudates are more widely accepted.
As you may know, there is a direct relationship between weather and no-shows. Perhaps because we Mountaineers are a hardy bunch, the relationship is a little odd. The more snow and rain, the more people show up. If its pretty outside, nobody can make it. I wonder what theyre doing out there.

Conversely, if you want to know where I am at any given moment, look at the weather:

If the weather is beautiful, I am working from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If its raining, I have the day off.

If its snowing a foot or two, one of my patients is standing hip deep outside my office because a screw came out of his glasses two weeks earlier.

Have a nice day.

Vol. No: 141:12Issue: 12/15/04