Excited, he opened the package of theatrical lenses. Pulled out the contacts. The petite folded instructions and warning fell like a discarded dirty napkin on the counter. "So I can just use water to put these in?"
I stared at the fine print trying hard not to be noticed on the counter.
Thirty years of wearing prescription lenses kicked in.
First. You wash your hands. He opened his mouth. My eyebrows went up. The edge of a razor sharp scowl threatened. He scooted. "With soap." He nodded.
He came back and presented hands. His mother never saw hands that clean.
Second. Never water. Saline is not water. Verbally reviewed the fine print. His eyes glazed. Paraphrased. Showed him the bottle of solution I carry and shared because lenses are daily for me.
Taught him how to put them in. Let him know about eye irritation and when you had best take them out. From experience.
Thought about the encounter.
How frequently people offer us the fine print we need to move forward but we glaze or hear the tone instead of the message or a defense mechanism dismisses it.
Fine print should be block capital large print, neon flashing red. Not quiet and tucked on the back page where the lawyer or the car dealer or the loan officer winked as they showed it to you dismissively. That's there for someone else or you know, legal purposes, har har wink wink.
Sadly, those little words could save us a lot of hurt. They could, prevent injury, frustration, misunderstanding. They are there as a shield and a ladder- but go ahead and recklessly race into and up the side of that precarious brick wall without checking to see if the mortar is good. Perhaps the seventh or eighth time look for someone to blame.
The little words in fine print softly say "I tried to tell you." Sadly say, "Will you listen now?" How many nudges and repeated suggestions do you need from good friends and well meaning strangers? Out of curiosity, have you ever read the fine print on household chemicals?
The next time you step into a mire or an unfamiliar situation check: do you look for fine print or a knowledgeable source or do you wing it- or worse yet turn to the person next to you who also has no experience or clue?