To Whom It May Concern

Dear Manufacturer of Rid Yourself of the Red eye drops,

Your product packaging seems designed to make Rid Yourself of the Red a deceptive doppelganger of the named brand product. Same cardboard box. Same red, white, and blue color scheme. Same tamper-resistant seal. But your product contains a different active ingredient.

As if I could read that teeny tiny text without my reading glasses.

My granddaughter Sara tells me the glasses look fine on me, but what can I say, I’m a vane old woman. I only had about fifteen minutes to make my purchases and join the others for the ride back to the assisted living facility. Not enough time to consult with the pharmacist on the merits of one brand of eye drops over another.

As if I wanted to discuss my off-label use with a potential witness.

When I made some gentle inquiries at our true crime book club meeting, Geraldine swore eye drops would solve my dilemma. Since she used to be a librarian, I trusted her recommendation. An itty-bitty bottle I could buy for under a ten spot was much more practical than the bulkier, more expensive, and messier alternatives.

As my eightieth birthday drew closer, I appreciated such a simple solution.

I should have bought the name brand eye drops and avoided all the trouble, but I’d been trying to save my pennies so I can leave something for my dear granddaughter when I go to my reward.

Damn the stupid fine print that stated my insurance policy wouldn’t pay out if I died after age eighty.

Unfortunately, ingesting your eye drops made me sick but not dead.

Geraldine squinted at the label of Rid Yourself of the Red and declared that I needed the kind that contained tetrahydrozoline. I assume you are aware that the active ingredient in Rid Yourself of the Red is naphazoline hydrochloride.

With my eightieth birthday looming, I had to wait a whole TWO WEEKS before the next scheduled pharmacy outing. This time, I decided to splurge a bit. In addition to the tetrahydrozoline eye drops, I bought homeopathic eye drops for treating pink eye, a couple cans of iced coffee, a pack of Pall Malls for Geraldine—she’s on oxygen but she likes to live dangerously and I am not one to deprive a friend of a guilty pleasure—and a cute kitty stuffy—a tiny toy to remind Sara of her doting grandmother.

Did I mention that one of the nurses at my assisted living facility bragged that her son is a big wig at your company? When she isn’t satisfying her coffee addiction, she goes on and on about his fancy house, fine car, and fabulous children. She sure smiled like she’d hit the Mega Millions when I brought her a refreshing treat at the end of her shift. Wasn’t I a thoughtful dear, she said, for filling up her travel mug with iced coffee? With all that sugar and caffeine, I doubted she’d taste the tetrahydrozoline.

Had your product not deceived me into thinking it was comparable to the name brand eye drops and made me worry about missing my oh so important deadline, I never would have thought to test the effectiveness on some poor soul. It brings me comfort though to remember how rude she was to my sweet granddaughter, bereding Sara for supplying our club with true crime books. I get that reading about serial killers didn’t spark the nurse’s joy, but it’s down right cruel to treat us elderly folk like children.

By the time you read this letter, I’ll have made myself my own tetrahydrozoline cocktail, but with iced tea, as these days coffee gives me the runs. Stupid geriatric gut.

Even though a certain coffee-loving nurse hasn’t shown up for her last two shifts, I added a dash of those homeopathic eye drops to my drink. Sara and Geraldine would have been proud of me, peering through my reading glasses at the pharmacy to examine the active ingredient list of every label—and discovering that the drops for treating pink eye contained belladonna—good old deadly nightshade. Better safe than sorry.

Sincerely, A Former Customer