Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunscreen Blues

Dear MSD Consumer Care people,

I hope I'm addressing the right entity. To be quite frank, I cannot read the small letters at the bottom of the bottle of Coppertone Ultra Guard sunscreen because some of that sunscreen managed to make it into my left eye, and said eye has been watering for hours. So while I hope you are the right people, perhaps I should have addressed this letter directly to Coppertone Ultra Guard. No matter. I've mentioned you both here, so if you aren't the right people, do a girl who can't see a favor and send it along to the right people, will you?

Use at your own risk.
You might be wondering why I'm bothering to write this letter. Well, let me tell you a little story. Way back in 1998 (I know, right?), on a trip out to California, a friend of mine was eating a Big Mac in the back of  minivan we'd rented for the trip. We were driving along peacefully until he burst out that he'd gotten special sauce in his eye.
Use this at your own risk, too.
I have to tell you, when special sauce gets in one's eye, the sauce is no longer deemed special. My friend, who shall remain nameless, whined, and yelled, and carried on for so long, I always considered him a sissy. The other four of us laughed and shook in our seats while trying to be as sympathetic as possible. The friend didn't buy into our sympathy, and I don't blame him. Because we (I include myself in the group) actually held no sympathy for our friend with the stinging, watery eye. Until now, that is. Now, I have so much sympathy for what happened, I almost feel like I should track the friend down and apologize to him. Seventeen years later.

You see, it only took a little bit of special sauce to make my friend go mad with frustration, just like it only took a little bit of sunscreen in my left eye to make me do the same. No, I can't tell you how much sunscreen got in my eye. It's not like I held up the container and poured it directly into my eye. No, I put the sunscreen on my body, washed my hands, and then apparently, touched a part of my skin that had the lotion on it again. Because when I put my finger to my eye (I'm not even sure why I did this), in a few moments, the eye began to protest.

Being a very common sense sort of person, I thought to myself, Hey, I'll let my eye water it out, but I should go wash it, too. Also having a large amount of common sense, I then thought to myself, Hey, I'll check the container for instructions. Well, MSD Consumer Care People, this is what I found: When using this product, keep out of eyes. Rinse with water to remove.

I skeptically looked at those instructions. This was waterproof sunscreen in my eye, and water could potentially remove it? Even washing hands with soap doesn't take off all the sunscreen. Yet, I asked my friend to watch the kids for a moment and trekked off toward the restrooms. While there, I flushed my eye with as much water as I could. Cold water. Warm water. I even contemplated soapy water, thinking that maybe the sting from the soap would take away the sting from the sunscreen, but in the end, I didn't add soap (again, common sense won out). Instead, I blinked away as many tears as I could and I returned to my friend and the kids.

As I sat back down at our towels, my friend said, "Wow. You're eye is really red." Now my friend has great powers of observation (he's an excellent professor after all) but even in the bright light of the strong summer sun, it was clear that my poor eye had seen better days. I'm sure the other folks at the pool had questions about my eye. Several people looked at me, slightly alarmed, as I had passed them on the way back from the restroom. One nice lady in the restroom had even asked about my eye.

At that point, when my friend pointed out the severity of the redness, I told the kids I thought we should leave the pool. I needed to get the eye to a water station or something. Yes, I know what you're thinking. You're at a pool. Why didn't you just go dunk your head into the large pool of water that was in front of you. I didn't for two reasons: 1. The fresh tap water hadn't helped, and 2. I didn't think that subjecting an irritated eye to chlorine was the best option. (Goddamn that common sense. Where the hell does it get me? Oops...sorry. No warning about being less than family friendly.)

But I'm a mom and the kids weren't ready to leave. So I covered my eye with a tissue, letting the tears flow into the paper and wiping them up as quickly as they came. I suffered for the remainder of our time there and then drove home, carefully. But I have to say that I thought with the amount of watering my eye was doing, I'd have cleared the eye of all irritants. I mean, the bottle says to rinse with water. I'd done that and then some...fresh and salt water. What else could I do?

A shower. On the way home, I decided that I'd take a shower as soon as I made it home. And I did. I stood there, under the warmth of the shower head and tilted my head back. I let that water rain over my eyes for at least five minutes. I splashed the water into my eye. I dripped the water over my eye. I willed the water into my eye.

And after that shower, my eye still hurt. In fact, by that time, my vision was blurry and I contemplated calling poison control. (I'm not kidding). But again, I'm a mom and I had better things to do, like make sure that dinner gets started. So I closed my irritated eye, covered it with a kleenex so that I wouldn't be compelled to open it, and began to chop vegetables with a vengeance. After dinner, when the watering of the eye had slowed to a mere trickle, I sat down to write this.

I know this a long and drawn out story, but I had to write. You see, I have this habit of writing letters to people or companies who displease me. It's my way of venting a little. You'll probably never read this, and if you do, so be it. I'm but one customer in a sea of many. But honest to God. Before I go, I have to ask: What the hell do you put in that sunscreen to make it hurt so much? Do you know how many folks have told their kids to shake it off or suck it up when the kids are complaining about sunscreen in the eye? Do you? I've done it myself sometimes, thinking that my child was overreacting. I mean, how much can a little sunscreen do to a person? Well, apparently a whole hell of a lot.

So do me a favor. Before you bottle up any more of that offensive lotion, put a dab on your finger and stick it in your eye. If you don't find yourself with an eye up in arms, then go ahead and market the lotion. I'm betting you're too afraid to try that one, aren't you?

Thank you for your time.


T said...

Ask me about a rough run in with a jalapeƱo pepper, nevermind. I'll call you. Again.

Christina said...

Me thinks you should write that one up.

Tanstaafl said...

Heh. T. Been there, done that. The difference may be, I am stupid enough to have done it multiple times. And probably will do so again. I believe they call that male pattern buttheadedness.