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I Can See Clearly Now… Soon.



(Digital Design: Steamboat Willy’s Capitalism Club)


I think I’ve officially reached a threshold.


And while I’m not entirely certain, I’m pretty sure I’ve not only reached it, but possibly crossed it.


I’m also hesitant though, after last time, to go confirm my suspicions:


I think I need to be wearing glasses all the time now.


Starting when I was in sixth grade and needing my first pair of glasses, I started seeing an optometrist annually . He’d ask me a series of questions, the answer was always 1 or 2 and then I’d go into his “showroom” and pick out a single pair of glasses. Once I chose my frames I’d be done, we could leave, and within two weeks we’d get a call that my new glasses were in and I could pick them up: easy peasy, lemon squeeze-y.


As an adult I found, the process was way less easy peasy, lemon squeeze-y and way more soul suck.


A few years ago when reading words became too freaking blurry to ignore, I knew I had to go get checked out. Zero “vision insurance” though meant that a fancy optometrist was out of the question and so I called around looking for a big box store.


I found one that was running a special. To be honest they were all running “specials,” except that this “special” was the best “special” of all the “specials” out there… (they were the least expensive), so I scheduled my most “specialist” appointment with them.


On the day of, I headed over to the big box vision store and walked in. Immediately I started feeling anxious. I felt like I was some sort of odd fish in an aquarium: the entire “showroom” was windows, I felt oddly ‘on display’ and it made me feel on edge.


After checking in I asked the man at the front desk about their “special.” Basically they were running this promo that you could get a free eye exam and “buy one get one free” frames, when you paid for one pair of glasses.


Never hurts to ask, and I most definitely did NOT want two pairs of frames, so I ask if I were to get just one pair of frames and opt out of the free pair, if I could get a discount. I wasn’t expecting a discount, but I ALSO DIDN’T NEED OR WANT a second pair of frames so, I figured I’d ask.


The guy at the front desk tells me he’s pretty sure I could indeed get a discount.


Winning.


When it’s my turn for my exam, I go to some little back office room (thrilled to be out of the aquarium) and I do my obligatory 1s and 2s… the optometrist confirms that “yes, I do indeed need glasses” (no surprise there - I couldn’t read the print on the paperwork they had handed me earlier), and for me to head back to the fish bowl (my words, not theirs), to pick out my frames.


A woman called me over to a desk in the middle of the huge glass showroom and asked me to sit down. Next she explained to me that I had to pick out my frames. I asked her about just picking out one pair… I didn’t want two pairs… I had never had two pairs of glasses… what a waste for someone like me… why even get them? Could I just get the discount like the guy at the front desk and I had talked about?


She looked at me like I had two heads (for the two pairs of glasses I was going to get, like it or not): NO.


Two people… one question. Two different answers. I sighed to myself, “ok, fine, no worries… doesn’t hurt to ask,” I smile.


Her look tells me that “yes indeed, it does hurt when you ask stupid questions.”


Which fine… that’s fair.


What was not fair though, was what came after I picked out my “free frames.”


I once read that the average person has to make roughly 6,000 decisions per day.


You read that correctly.


Which I have to assume, since I had at the time, three very young kids whom I was making nearly every decision for, I was probably topping out at over 20,000 decisions per day on any given day. I was and to some degree still am: severely decision fatigued.


At this point I just wanted to pick out my frames (which I did… both of them), answer my 1s and 2s, pay, and then be on my merry little way. Except that this is NOT how things work at the big box vision store and I was going to be upping my decisions per day quota, to roughly 30,000 that day.


Immediately the questions started. I had assumed I was coming back to the desk to get fitted for the frames I had just picked out (both of them)… but that was NOT what was going to happen.


Now I was a bit on edge being in the “aquarium”. I was slightly more sweaty and anxious after picking out the frames. Picking out one pair was stressful enough… let alone two and then throw in their weird “tier” system for pricing the frames (there wasn’t one set price like at my childhood optometrist’s office) where only some of the frames were included in their “special.” I was just mentally exhausted by the time I had finished.


Except I wasn’t finished.


Nope, I was just getting started…


Because this was not a well insured experience I was having, no this was an un-insured capitalistic healthcare hellscape and my journey was just getting started. I was Dante’ and I was about to embark on a fucking trip.


The lady at the desk fits me for my frames, we start filling out some paperwork while I wait on my lenses and the barrage of questions began. She grabbed my first pair of frames and puts them on the desk in front of me… the other pair she scoots off to the side.


Did I “want anti-scratch technology for my these new frames?”


I was intrigued… My childhood optometrist had never asked me that.


So I asked her what that was all about, she looked at me (I’m assuming because I didn’t have either pairs of my new glasses yet and couldn’t see all that well) like I’m a moron… and not just A MORON… but the kind of moron that doesn’t understand anti-scratch technology… but she humors me nonetheless and explains what that is (it’s exactly what it sounds like incase you were uninformed like myself) and when I ask, also informs me that “YES, it will indeed cost extra.”


I was not paying anymore than the “special” price - and I already knew this, because this was one of the 20,000 decisions I had made before walking into this fishbowl. I politely tell her, “no thank you.”


She checks off a little “no” box on her computer screen and asks me if I’d like to add the, “smudge proof option” to my frames.


Smudge proof? I couldn’t remember having that difficult of a time keeping smudges at bay when I used to wear glasses. I double check… I already know but I ask her if this is also going to cost extra…


“Yes.”


“No thanks.” I say.


Audibly annoyed… THIS I have no trouble picking up on, she checks off another “NO” box on her computer screen before she begins to ask me about every single option known to man for this pair of fucking frames…


“Do I want elephant protection?”


I ask what that is.

She tells me.

I ask how much.

She tells me. I say, “No thanks.”


What about, “Protection from space debris? Did that sound like something I’d be interested in?”


Same dance… different song… “I do NOT want it.” She is less than amused.


“SCUBA dive gone awry protection? Did that sound like something I wanted?”


I didn’t SCUBA dive… I didn’t even wear my glasses in the water… did people wear their glasses in the water? I didn’t even want to ask.


“No thanks,” I say.


She checked off her box.


We continued on with the ridiculous add ons for what felt like forever.


About halfway through, feeling really sweaty, very overwhelmed, I just tell her, I don’t want anything extra, but she tells me that she, “still has to ask.” Which is weird to me, but I’m still politely playing this a la carte game of “healthcare” despite just wanting to run for the door. I’m feeling warmer and warmer.


She continues on… “Do I want microwave radiation protection?”


“No.”


“UVA, UVB, UV, MSNBC, HI-C, protections?”


“Nope.”


“Big cat insurance to protect your eye-wear from run ins on African safaris, booked exclusively through ‘Big Cat Tours Of Africa Incorporated LLC’?”


Oddly specific and also still a “No”.


“What about hot air balloon air ride tour drop protection?”


Fuck I just want to go home… but I smile nicely and tell her, “No thank you.”


We’re roughly 2,342 questions in to this, and I’ve had enough when she tells me “we’re almost done”, which is fantastic because I am straight up stress sweating and needing to leave when she asks me If I want the, “Anti glare technology?”


But before I can answer, “NO” she starts telling me about this option. I assume at this point that she gets paid on some sort of commission (which is fine except that this is healthcare and I’m not amused by the choose your own healthcare adventure, like I’m choosing damn taco toppings at the local taqueria) situation that I’m currently in but again… I’m politely listening and she I believe, assumes that THIS is going to be THE option that I HAVE to have.


“The anti-glare technology is really important… well I think so at least,” she smiles genuinely for the first time in a while.


She proceeds to tell me that one time she ran into a patient who was wearing glasses without the “anti-glare technology” and that she couldn’t see their eyes…. And that when you don’t have the “anti-glare technology,” that the glasses will get a bad glare, and that anyone looking at you will have “difficulty seeing your eyes.” Pausing, as if to add to the importance of this option she adds that this makes you look, her words, not mine: unapproachable and scary.


She pauses. She looks pleased with herself. Women don’t want to look “unapproachable and scary.” She’s going to get me with this one.


I’m over it all.


“Does not having the anti-glare technology impede MY ability to see out of these frames in any way?”


“Oh no she tells me, not one bit, it’s just that NOT having it may make you look a little ‘unsettling to others.” I see her hand on the mouse, the cursor hovers over the “Yes” box on the screen, above it are 2,342 boxes checked “NO”.


“So I will have ZERO problem seeing clearly? I might just look ‘scary’ to other people?”


“Yes ma’am,” she smiles.


“Well then that sounds like a THEM problem and not a ME problem. I don’t want it.”


Her jaw drops… “You’re sure?”


I was very sure.


“Ok,” she breaths heavily, this woman was doing her best to hide her annoyance, and for that I had to commend her, “well last question then: would you like to add an insurance protection plan to your new frames? If these are lost, broken or stolen, we would replace them for free.”


So I ask her if this option is free.


Exasperated she tells me “No, that it’s $35.” And for good measure that “NONE of these options is free.”


I sigh… “So then you wouldn’t replace my lost, broken or stolen glasses for free… it’s $35 paid upfront?”


“Well yes… I guess… (she’s pissed - this is apparent now) but you could lose multiple pairs and still be covered so it’s more than one pair…”


I proceed to tell her that prior to this, I wore glasses and or contacts for the better part of a decade and never once, lost, broke or had a pair of them stolen and so like EVERYTHING else, “I didn’t want it.” I’m doing my best to smile.


“Are you sure???? What if your kids broke your glasses THIS time?”


Now I’m just pouring sweat. It feels like it’s 3000 degrees in this specific layer of hell. I feel like I’m almost done… I feel mentally exhausted… I have crossed my 20,000 decisions for the day goal post and it’s only 2pm… I just want to be home with my new glasses, I don’t need same day frames… I need frames with no options, I need fucking simplicity and minimal questions.


I, now absolutely exasperated by the ‘option game’, pick up the pair of extra glasses that I didn’t want in the first place, the pair she had scooted off to the side of the desk when we started on this never ending question journey, the stupid pair I had struggled to pick out because I didn’t want them in the first place...


I have them in my hand and I say calmly and with a great big smile, “If my kids break my glasses THIS time… I’ve already got this ‘free’ pair… the ones I didn’t want. No thank you, I don’t want the extra option.”


The way she looked at me then, I felt like NO ONE had ever made this point with her before… about the free glasses being the protection plan. None of this was making sense to me. I’m feeling less than amused. I remain polite. I want out.


She sounds exasperated. “Fine,” she manages, faking an annoyed smile.


I go to get up and she says, “Ooop… not done yet… (NOW SHE’S REALLY GRINNING) We still have to go through the option list for,” she picks up the second pair of frames from the desk…. “These guys here.” She grins, eating my visual displeasure up.


I sit back down. Here we go again….


Masterful gambit ma’am… masterful fucking gambit.


Check mate.


**********


Last night I rode my bike home from a friend’s house. It was dark and I was struggling to see. I know that since my last visit to the big box vision store, that I have crossed the “sometimes needed” to “these glasses should be worn at all times” prescription threshold. This has become even more apparent when I sit down to paint and struggle to clearly see the board in front of me…


At some point yes, I’ll go back (because despite my body being insured, somehow my eyes and teeth are not) and I’ll do the 2,342 question thing in the big fish bowl, and I’ll get the stupid pair of extra glasses I don’t want and then I’ll toss them into the drawer right next to my side of the bed… where they’ll find themselves right next to my other pair of “Free Frames” I threw into that drawer (and never used) 5 years ago.


But for now… I’ll just squint a little harder.


























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