Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Assault on battery

Who knows what the sales associate at Planet Beauty thought when I staggered into her store on Monday and stepped up to her counter?

My expression was one of desperation. If I had stepped into Planet Beauty to get prettified, this young lady, whose badge read Jackie, would not know where to begin.

Jackie probably had had a long day matching her female customers with moisturizers, foundations and spray-on sun tans. She may not have been up to waiting on a man with no voice and a swollen tongue who looked like he was wearing one of the wigs that Phil Spector left behind before he went into the pokey.

I slapped a piece of paper on the counter and wrote, "Please show me all of your tweezers."

Jackie disappeared to check her stock, and I contemplated what had brought me to Planet Beauty.

A tiny battery was jammed inside my left hearing aid –again.

A few months ago, I had a mishap when the battery carriage broke on my right hearing aid, leaving the battery stuck inside, and I worsened the situation by stepping on the plastic that holds the battery inside the aid. Since then my hearing has been at half-strength, at best.

With the other aid now useless, too, I had the congeniality of a two-by-four.

But I had a shot at fixing the aid and getting half of my hearing back if only I could find the right pair of tweezers to remove the battery.

A pair of tweezers I had at the office didn't do the trick, so I decided to try again with a second set of tweezers I had at home. For more than an hour, I had been trying to capture the battery with the tweezers when I decided that maybe I just needed a more precise set of tweezers.

Jackie returned to her station with two fists full of tweezers and spread them on the counter.

The points on the $6 pair she showed me were too thick. Then she showed me a $22 pair, which looked fine enough to get the job done, but did I really want to spend $22 plus tax just to pry a battery out of my hearing aid? Do people actually lay out that kind of dough to pluck eyebrows and nose hairs?

Jackie handed me a third pair, and I studied it closely. These tweezers not only looked like they would be up for the task; they were marked at $14.

I gave Jackie a thumbs up and handed over my debit card.

As she rang up my purchase, I opened the package and tried in vain to clasp the tweezers on the battery and lift it out of the aid.

"Here, let me try," Jackie said, taking the tweezers and the hearing aid out of my hands.

She leaned into the challenge with the precision and confidence of dentist working on an abscessed tooth. Sweat beads formed on my brow, but Jackie's was dry.

After a few minutes, she successfully clasped the tweezers around its prey and expertly lifted it out of the hearing aid.

I whooped and hollered as loudly as my speechlessness permits. I gave Jackie a thumb's up and all but genuflected in appreciation before waving goodbye and leaving Planet Beauty.

I wonder if Jackie does cancer tumors, too?

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